Skip to main content

In Memoriam: Mark Lukes – NANPA Founder

By May 6, 2024May 10th, 2024No Comments

It is with great sadness to report that one of NANPA’s Founding Members, Mark Lukes, passed away at approximately 4:20 AM on Monday, April 15, 2024 from complications due to advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. A memorial will be held at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins (605 South Mason Street, Ft. Collins, CO 80524) on June 22nd from 2pm to 5pm. If anyone wishes to attend, please RSVP to by June 10 with an appropriate email to send an evite to.

Cards and letters of condolences for the family may be sent to:

Scott Lukes
3480 Starry Night Loop
Castle Rock, CO 80109

Memorials may be made to the NANPA Foundation in memory of Mark Lukes.

Please see below for two short remembrances of Mark from John and Shirley Nuhn.

January 14, 1995, NANPA’s first Summit (then called Forum), Ft. Myers. Frans Lanting, Mark Lukes, and Chris Eckstrom at evening banquet. Photo by Roger Archibald.

John’s Remembrance:

NANPA owes its existence primarily to Mark.  Mark and his spouse Linda Helm were the owners of Fine Print in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  Many nature photographers used Fine Print to make top-quality prints of their images.  At the conclusion of the October 1993 gathering organized by Roger Tory Peterson in Jamestown, New York, Frans Lanting inspired Mark, me and others to gather in a nearby room to discuss a nature photography association.  It was an invigorating afternoon.  During subsequent phone meetings by this founding board, Mark volunteered to explore association management firms and then recommended Resource Center for Associations (RC) in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, with Jerry Bowman and Francine Butler as executive directors.  At this board’s first in-person meeting in April 1994, much of NANPA’s structure was created and Mark was elected NANPA’s first president.

One of my fondest memories of Mark is having lunch with him after the meeting when everyone else had left for flights home.  We drove to a storefront Mexican restaurant nearby and for nearly two hours tossed around ideas and goals for this new organization.

Mark and board member Rick Zuegel assisted RC in organizing NANPA’s first summit, then called a forum, in January 1995 in Ft. Myers, Florida.  It was an exciting gathering with top photographers, agents and editors making presentations and mingling with other nature photographers and enthusiasts.

Mark was re-elected president that year and continued to nurture our new association.   He received board approval to set up a foundation to help fund NANPA’s student programs and other nature photography projects.  This became the NANPA Infinity Foundation in 1996.  Mark was elected the foundation’s first president.  He did all of this while managing Fine Print.

When he left NANPA’s board, he kept working on many other NANPA ventures.  He interviewed Philip Hyde for one of NANPA’s first oral histories.  He then set up the Philip Hyde Grant for the NANPA Foundation and supported it for many years.  With Linda, he helped in the NANPA bookstore during summits.  He offered suggestions for celebrating and promoting Nature Photography Day.  He volunteered Fine Print for the making of prints by NANPA’s Photographers of the Year and arranged for them to be displayed.  He was a powerhouse of ideas, reason and encouragement for the boards, committee chairs and NANPA members for many years.  He also extended his talents to another photography-related group, the International League of Conservation Photographers, serving as an executive director and twice on its board.

Mark was a dear friend to me and many others.  We will miss him, but his achievements and memory live on.  Many thanks, Mark, for all you did.

Shirley’s Remembrance:

We gathered during an autumn weekend in 1993 in Jamestown, New York.  This was to be a meeting of minds and talents of nature photography.  My experience in those hours was a blur of individuals, occupations, and hometowns, capped by the sense of friendships beginning.  Mark Lukes attended: someone who would influence many of us over the years.

NANPA was born within the next year, with Mark as elected leader for two terms.  Photographers, editors, and corporations joined as members.  Projects blossomed.

Just a decade later, with NANPA’s executive directors, Jerry and Francine, I worked out the possibility of a continent-wide day to observe nature photography.  The date would be June 15, and we earnestly promoted the 2006 launch.  I contemplated ways to encourage people to celebrate.

Mark was my go-to colleague for ideas—for the first year and beyond.  We brainstormed by phone and email.  He contributed some major ways that are effective even today. One that I especially appreciate is this:  “Pick something that you’ve never photographed before.  Then make plans to photograph that subject or scene every June 15.”

Yes, a pilgrimage matters.  It blends creativity, service, generosity, and stamina.

It was a joy to be connected to Mark.  I admired his energy and his speaking voice—resonant and expressive and hopeful.  He and his wife, Linda Helm, were NANPA institutions: gifted, approachable, and oh, so memorable.

February 28, 2008, Destin, Florida. Mark Lukes and Amy Gulcik in discussion at NANPA’s Destin Summit. Photo by David Small.