Joe & Mary Ann McDonald present Wendy Shattil with NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo Credit: Jake Campos
Oh, the things you missed if you didn’t go to Tucson
By Frank Gallagher, Interim Marketing & Communications Coordinator
If you missed NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit in Tucson earlier this month, you missed a lot! Between the keynote speakers, breakout sessions, field trips, portfolio reviews, trade show and the grounds of the Westin La Paloma there was a lot to see and do. On top of that, there were the networking opportunities and in-person connections we haven’t been able to experience in a long time. And the weather? Near perfect!
Photographers and the great horned owl just outside the conference center. Photo credits: Frank Gallagher (left), Jake Campos (right).
On the grounds
One doesn’t normally rave about conference hotels. Mostly, they’re functional and often found in the middle of cities. La Paloma, however, was situated in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains and was spread over acres of beautifully landscaped grounds full of native plants and wildlife. As I was going to my room one night, I passed a family group of javalinas (or collared peccary—they resemble wild boars). Just outside the main resort building stood a tree in which great horned owls were regularly seen. There were cacti in bloom, vermillion flycatcher fledglings, baby hummingbirds in a nest, lizards and a bunch of other photo ops to be found just walking around the grounds.
Dave Showalter’s keynote on the Colorado River. Photo credit: Jake Campo
On the stage
Indoors, the main stage featured compelling presentations by Michael Frye (recipient of NANPA’s Fine Art in Nature Photography Award) on his photography in Yosemite and California, Daniel J. Cox (recipient of NANPA’s Environmental Impact Award) on his work on the Arctic Documentary Project and with Polar Bears International, Gabby Salazar’s thoughts on collaboration, Wendy Shattil’s reflections on her career, including being the first woman to win overall prize in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, starting NANPA’s Showcase photo competition and receiving NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Because we were in Arizona, the presentations by Dave Showalter on the Colorado River (based on his book, Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado, and from Adam Schallau on photographing the Grand Canyon. Our final keynote was an exhilarating ride with tornado hunter Greg Johnson.
Also on the main stage, Jennifer Leigh Warner received NANPA’s Mission Award for her leadership and work on ethical nature photography. Jeff Vanuga became a NANPA Fellow and Jerry Ginsberg received the President’s Award for, among other things, writing more than 100 articles for NANPA’s blog. Not present, but also receiving awards were Ted Moreno who was given NANPA’s Outstanding Service Award; Francine Butler, who received a President’s Award for her long service to NANPA; and John Lock, who provided technical support, designed and constantly updated many of NANPA’s online assets, including the entire system that manages the Showcase competition.
Tom Kennedy, former Director of Photography at National Geographic Magazine, interviewed in one of the popular breakout sessions. Photo credit: Jake Campos
Outstanding Young Nature Photographer Award winner Isabelle (Izzy) Edwards gave fascinating breakout sessions on her quest to find and photograph all North American owl species. Other breakout sessions covered topics as diverse as intimate landscapes, grant opportunities, and night, bird, abstract and conservation photography, not to mention a memorable conversation between Tom Kennedy, former Director of Photography at National Geographic Magazine and ASMP’s Tom Maddrey. There was something for everyone!
Summit College Photography Scholarship Program Participants. Photo Credit: Jake Campos
Summit College Photography Scholarship Program
Let’s hear it for the young photographers! These dozen college students were hard at work all week in Tucson, with assistance from Michele Westmoreland, Ryan Trenkamp, JP Lawrence, Alyce Bender, and Jennifer Leigh Warner. Their final video, created for Tucson Audubon , wowed the crowd when it debuted during the final general session. Kudos to Alice Robertson for first proposing the program, funded by NANPA Foundation. And, if you were interested in the next generations of nature photographers, there was a meet and greet event with the Udall Foundation and their work with youth through programs like Parks in Focus.
On one of the Summit field trips, Steve Vaughn set up stations to photograph hummingbirds. Photo credit: Jake Campos
In the field
One of the new highlights of Summit was the variety of field trips to nearby scenic locations. From botanical gardens to trails through the desert and from bird hot spots to wetlands (yes, wetlands in the desert) Summit attendees had many options for making some memorable photos of iconic saguaro cactus, cactus blossoms, cactus wrens … even snakes and lizards brought over by the Tucson Herpetological Society.
The exhibit hall was hopping with NANPA members checking out the latest and greatest offerings from a wide variety of vendors. Photo credit: Jake Campos
In addition to learning during the supersessions, breakout sessions and keynote presentations, attendees received perceptive portfolio reviews from a variety of top photographers, editors, and agency representatives. And a couple of dozen exhibitors educated us on their new products, services and tours. A special thank you to the vendors for their support.
Frank Gallagher is a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He serves as NANPA’s Interim Marketing and Communications Coordinator and manages NANPA’s blog. He can be found online at frankgallagherphotography.com or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.