NANPA was officially incorporated in 1994, following a meeting of over 100 nature photographers at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. Roger Tory Peterson—the famous ornithologist, artist, and nature photographer—brought the group together to discuss the future of nature photography. At that meeting, two important tenants were established that have remained key tenets of the organization: that the new association would be for nature photography—not restricted to photographers—and that it would represent all of North America—not just the United States.
Since its founding, NANPA has been North America’s preeminent nature photography organization. NANPA is a critical advocate for the rights of nature photographers on a wide range of issues, from intellectual property to public land access for nature photographers. Its focus on environmental issues and nature photographer rights separates it from photo clubs.
NANPA has a diverse membership base, from amateur photographers to industry professionals to the world’s top professional nature photographers. NANPA brings together its diverse membership to learn from each other, network professionally, and share their photography and inspiration with multi-day Nature Photography Summits, Regional Events, and local Meetups. And it celebrates nature photography and its member talent through various written and electronic publications and photo contests.
More than 100 devotees of nature photography, including many of the leading figures in the business, are invited by famed ornithologist, artist and nature photographer Roger Tory Peterson to gather at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) and the Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York, for panel discussions, presentations and networking. Ten high school students are also selected to attend and learn. Called “Nature Photography: A Focus on the Issues,” this is the first such gathering in the United States.
There’s a consensus by the end of the meeting that the field needs an organization to represent its interests and promote communication and education. A core of attendees eager to form an association meets informally in a nearby library room to set up plans.
Two important tenets are established: (1) that the new association will be for nature photography, not restricted to photographers; and (2) that it will represent all of North America, not just the United States. RTPI offers to handle donations to assist in the formation of the association.
January—With funding from Kodak, a smaller group of 16 people holds a conference call, setting in motion formal organizing efforts. The name North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) is chosen. It is agreed that NANPA needs professional assistance to handle its efforts. Mark Lukes, owner of Fine Print in Ft. Collins, Colorado, volunteers to search for an association management and consulting firm.
February–March—Two more conference calls are held and, following discussion of the firms Mark Lukes has found, the group selects the Resource Center for Associations in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. NANPA’s new management, led by Executive Directors Jerry Bowman and Francine Butler, helps NANPA incorporate as a nonprofit, 501(c)6 corporation in New York and Colorado.
April 22–23—A group of 15, NANPA’s founding Board of Directors, meets for the first time in Wheat Ridge to make critical decisions about the directions the fledging association must take.
The founding Board adopts a mission statement; approves bylaws; selects a logo; decides to hold a national conference in January 1995 to follow up on issues raised at the Jamestown meeting; sets up the Education, Environment, Ethics, Membership and Communications Committees with various Board members as chairs; initiates a membership brochure; establishes member categories and fees; and takes other actions.
Mark Lukes is elected by the Board to be NANPA’s first president.
July—The first issue of Currents, NANPA’s newsletter, is published and distributed to the growing membership.
News releases are sent to the media announcing the formation of NANPA and plans for NANPA’s first Nature Photography Forum to be held the following January in Ft. Myers, Florida.
October—NANPA’s membership grows to 860, twice the number that the Board had estimated.
January 12–15—More than 500 photographers, editors, photo agents and others involved in the field of nature photography attend NANPA’s first Nature Photography Forum in Ft. Myers, Florida. The conference, called the most significant gathering ever of nature photographers, features Dewitt Jones, Frans Lanting, George Lepp, Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe and other notable presenters and panelists.
Taking a cue from the Jamestown gathering, NANPA’s Education Committee arranges for several high school youths from around the country to attend the Forum, meet Roger Tory Peterson and other top nature photography specialists, and gain hands-on photo tips.
Following discussion about the need for a 501(c)3 organization to receive funding for youth programs, the Board votes to establish a foundation, and selected Board members and the executive directors begin to set up what would become the NANPA Infinity Foundation..
February—Analysis of an ethics survey, conducted by NANPA’s Ethics Committee during the January Forum, shows wide agreement on a variety of questions dealing with the ethics of nature photography in the field.
March—NANPA issues an Action Alert to the membership advising of a proposed U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule that could potentially result in fees being charged to individual photographers for access to BLM lands. Scores of NANPA members write letters to the BLM stating their objection to the fees. BLM begins a dialog with NANPA on the proposed regulations.
May—The NANPA membership votes for the first elected Board of Directors.
June—NANPA concludes its first year with more than 1,400 members.
November–December—NANPA conducts an environmental survey to determine member views on some issues involving photography and the environment.
December 2—The Rocky Mountain Nature Photography Summit is held in Denver, the first regional conference with NANPA sponsorship. Attended by more than 100 photographers, the highly successful forum is designed in part to test the concept of regional meetings.
January—NANPA’s newsletter Currents changes from quarterly to bimonthly publication.
February 1–4—NANPA’s second Nature Photography Forum, titled “Photographing the Americas,” draws more than 700 to San Diego, California. The Forum features a gallery of selected images from members, a much-enlarged Trade Show, portfolio reviews and several other new events. A National Park Service (NPS) official releases a document explaining the agency’s view of low-impact nature photography in national park areas.
May—NANPA formally creates the NANPA Infinity Foundation, a fund-raising nonprofit 501(c)3 organization to advance awareness and appreciation of the environment through photography and education.
May 17—NANPA representatives attend a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., organized by the U.S. Department of Interior, on ways to improve the operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System. NANPA is the only photography organization invited to the conference.
May 18—The second Rocky Mountain Nature Photography Summit, a regional conference sponsored by NANPA, draws more than 130 nature photographers to Denver’s Natural History Museum.
June—NANPA continues to grow, concluding its second year with more than 1,700 members.
July—The association issues an Action Alert on proposed new rules on the permit system governing nature photography in Denali National Park. Many NANPA members respond with letters to the NPS.
NANPA joins the fledging Internet with a site containing membership, Forum and other information. Soon after, it establishes a presence in the online communities of CompuServe and America Online.
July 28—Roger Tory Peterson, regarded as the father of NANPA, dies in his sleep at his home in Connecticut.
November—NANPA’s newsletter Currents explores the controversial issue of image labeling—the labeling of images as wild or captive, images made in controlled conditions, and images altered by computer or in the darkroom. The Ethics Committee reviews numerous letters voicing various viewpoints.
January 16–19—NANPA’s third Nature Photography Forum, called “Partnerships,” draws more than 600 attendees to Corpus Christi, Texas. New events include the Pros’ Meeting, the NANPA Infinity Foundation Silent Auction, and a greatly expanded NANPA Bookstore.
Representatives of the NPS invite NANPA to meet with them in discussions toward a partnership.
NANPA conducts a professional photographers survey to better gauge what pro members feel about important issues.
February—The NANPA Bookstore is expanded to a year-round program.
March—NANPA institutes a fax-on-demand system through which members and others may request a variety of printed materials to be sent to them via automated fax ordering.
April—The NANPA Board adopts legislative advocacy guidelines and forms an Exhibitors’ Council to provide guidance on Trade Shows. Sponsorship and partnering guidelines for developing activities with other organizations and associations are approved.
April 12—The first Florida Nature Photography Summit, a regional conference sponsored by NANPA, attracts more than 90 attendees to Naples, Florida.
May—The Environment Committee issues three pamphlets on photography and the environment.
July—NANPA forms an Advisory Council to assist in making prudent plans and decisions. Members of the Council are Howard Baker, former U.S. Senator and nature photographer; James Berry, educator and director of the RTPI; Frans Lanting, freelance wildlife and nature photographer and a NANPA founder; and David Lyman, photography educator and founder and director of the Maine Photographic Workshops.
October 8—NANPA signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, its first with any organization or agency, at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. NANPA president Jane Kinne discusses a photo blind project with Jamie Rappaport Clark, director of the USFWS. Through the NANPA Infinity Foundation, USFWS agrees to fund part of the cost of construction for each blind.
January 14–18—NANPA’s fourth Nature Photography Forum, called “Photography to the Extreme,” draws more than 600 attendees to Haines City, Florida.
A NANPA adhoc committee develops carry-on luggage travel tips in light of proposed new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
January 20—NANPA conducts its first oral history: National Geographic photographer Robert Sisson. More than 20 oral histories are conducted in following years, including Erwin Bauer, Jim Brandenburg, Ann Guilfoyle, Philip Hyde, Jane and Russ Kinne, Les Line, David Muench, Leonard Lee Rue III, and Art Wolfe.
February 20—NANPA’s carry-on luggage policy is sent to the FAA with support from four national and international photo and communications associations in response to proposed carry-on luggage regulations.
March—NANPA comments to the NPS on its proposed revised photo policy. NANPA reviews and, working with the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), responds to three bills in Congress (S.1614, H.2993 and S.1693) to improve the NPS overall. The bills include regulations for permits and fees for commercial filming. NANPA begins exploring programs of mutual interest with officials of the NPS and a possible statement of cooperation.
July 18—Two photo seminars are held in Denver as pilots for proposed Masters Classes. Presenters are photographer and educator Joe McDonald and National Geographic photographer Robert Sisson.
October–December—Many NANPA members are featured in a 13-part television series, “Nature’s Best Photography,” on the Outdoor Life Network. The series is sponsored by Nikon and the National Wildlife Federation.
November—NANPA’s website is redesigned with additional pages of information, including tips from professional photographers.
January—The Environment Committee creates an activist’s toolkit for use by members wanting guidance on environmental lobbying.
NANPA issues a Statement of Public Land Access. This details NANPA’s belief that public lands should be open to all photographers without need of any special permits or fees beyond those required of the average visitor, with the exception of photography involving models or products for advertising.
February 3–7—“Creativity 2000,” the fifth NANPA conference, now called a Nature Photography Summit, attracts more than 700 to San Diego, California. New events include Exhibitor Demonstration Sessions, a Members’ Slide Show, and pre- and post-Summit workshops. Ethical Field Practices signs are made available to members for installation on non-Federal lands.
February—NANPA’s members assist Friends of McNeil River in defeating plans to limit access to McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Alaska.
April 10—The second Florida Nature Photography Forum (formerly Summit) in Naples brings together more than 70 attendees. With the regional event concept shown to be successful, NANPA establishes a Regional Events Committee and holds many other events in coming years.
September—NANPA supports sending a NANPA Board representative to serve on the NPS’s Public Advisory Committee.
January 12–16—More than 700 attend NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit, titled “Biodiversity 2000,” in Austin, Texas. New this year is a live auction to benefit the NANPA Foundation.
After two years of study, the Board decides that conducting Masters Classes is too large a task for NANPA at this time.
May 26—President Bill Clinton signs Public Law 106-206, which establishes a commercial filming fee structure for photographing on Federal public lands. The law guarantees still nature photographers the right to photograph on Federal public lands at no additional fees above those of other visitors. NANPA joins with ASMP in heralding this long-sought policy that they had collaborated on for more than two years to help pass.
June—Membership reaches an all-time high of nearly 2,200 members, including 49 corporate members.
July, August and October—NANPA joins ASMP and other photo organizations as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) in three briefs involving protection of copyright for photographers.
November—NANPA is included as Amicus Curiae in the Tasini v. New York Times case, presented to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. The case concerns payments to freelance writers for use of their work online and has broader implications for images; the Court decides for freelancers in 2005.
December—The NPS seeks input from NANPA on setting up procedures for implementing Public Law 106-206 regarding commercial photography fees.
January 17–21—Nearly 700 members attend “Odyssey 2001,” NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Environment Committee issues a newsletter on issues which members could become involved, using their photography.
June—Individual and corporate membership grows to more than 2,400.
July—NANPA introduces a magazine discount subscription program, by which members can subscribe to nature photography magazines at a discounted rate.
The Board approves producing a business manual, consisting of articles on photography business practices.
Art Wolfe accepts an invitation to join the NANPA Advisory Council.
September—NANPA unveils an expanded website redesigned by webmaster John Lock with more links, photographs and information.
January—NANPA continues to expand its website, adding an online survey, advertising, an FAQ page, a reference handbook and a members’ photo library.
January 16–20— More than 600 attendees attend NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show, “Alternatives 2002,” in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Board adopts an environmental statement and a white paper on conduct in the field.
NANPA agrees to a one-year pilot project with NancyScans to provide members with an online portal to market their images.
April—NANPA signs a petition to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It also partners with Discover Life in America to encourage members to participate in the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
July—NANPA launches a speakers’ bureau on its website.
February 19–23—NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show, called “Legacy 2003,” attracts nearly 700 to Albuquerque, New Mexico. For the first time, a group of selected college students are invited to attend with funding from the NANPA Infinity Foundation.
April—NANPA approves online voting by its members for all elections.
June—NANPA initiates a Members Only section on its website and online registration for NANPA Summits and Regional Events.
January 21–25—NANPA’s 10th Anniversary Summit and Trade Show attracts more than 700 attendees to Portland, Oregon. A 10th anniversary dinner celebrates NANPA’s previous decade.
Executive Director Jerry Bowman retires and receives gratitude from NANPA for his efforts through the years. Francine Butler is the sole Executive Director.
July—NANPA and the NANPA Foundation (formerly the Infinity Foundation) sign a Memorandum of Understanding to solidify and strengthen their relationship.
NANPA creates a Nature Photography Day, a formally recognized occasion to be held each year on June 15 and promoted nationally.
NANPA endorses the Pro Tour being undertaken by the Images for Conservation Fund.
The NANPA Foundation agrees to transfer management and operation of the College Student Scholarship Program and the Refuge Photo Blind Program to NANPA while continuing to fund them.
As a result of inactivity, the NANPA Board ends the online portal program with NancyScans.
NANPA membership passes 2,500.
January 19–23—More than 600 attend “Traditions,” NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. A new event is a special reception for new members and first-time attendees.
July—The NANPA Board votes to support the creation and goals of the new International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
NANPA creates of a series of multiprogram events called Road Shows to be held in a number of cities annually.
September—The number of photo blinds being built on national wildlife refuges through NANPA’s Photo Blind Program, with funding from the NANPA Foundation, reaches 30 with completion of a blind at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge in California.
October—NANPA participates in the 8th World Wilderness Congress, initiated and managed by the WILD Foundation, held in Anchorage, Alaska.
February 8–12—“Frontiers,” NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show, is held in Denver, Colorado. A new Community Outreach event at the Summit, sponsored by the Environment Committee, collects funds for the NANPA Foundation’s Philip Hyde Award. A collection of members’ photography is opened at a fine art gallery in Golden, Colorado.
To keep the member directory current and to save funds, NANPA moves the directory from its annual print version to its website.
NANPA publishes its first color journal displaying winning images from a member photo competition, called Members’ Showcase. Titled Impressions 2006, the journal’s images are also made available for viewing on NANPA’s website for one year. The journal’s name is later changed to Expressions.
The Board accepts the business manual authors’ suggestion that NANPA allow the authors to seek another publisher.
April—NANPA informs members of the pending Orphan Works legislation in Congress and its effects on the photo industry.
June 15—The first Nature Photography Day is celebrated.
January 17–21—NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show is held in Palm Springs, California.
NANPA adds a tagline to its name: “Connecting the Nature Photography Community.”
NANPA’s newsletter Currents is changed to a quarterly publication in the format of a magazine, with NANPA news to be published on its website and sent to members via email.
March—NANPA membership reaches a high of more than 3,000.
July—NANPA sets up a health and business insurance program to complement its equipment insurance.
January— The first issue of NANPA’s new quarterly magazine Currents is published, along with the first issue of Ripples, NANPA’s new online newsletter.
February 27–March 2—Destin, Florida, hosts NANPA’s Annual Summit and Trade Show. New this year is the Fun Shoot, where members gather in state parks for photographing and informal instruction by pros, and the Digital Boot Camp.
NANPA adopts a new logo: a leaf within a sketched circle.
February 18–22—NANPA’s 15th Annual Summit and Trade Show is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A new event is the Members’ Print Show.
NANPA returns operation of the Refuge Photo Blind Program to the Foundation.
March—NANPA’s website is redesigned by webmaster John Lock to make navigation and viewing easier. The first of NANPA’s oral histories, Erwin Bauer, goes on its website in both audio and transcription formats.
September—NANPA joins ASMP, Graphic Artists Guild, Picture Archive Council of America (PACA), and individual photographers in objecting to the proposed settlement of the class action suit filed by the Authors Guild and others against Google. The suit concerns the Google Library Project’s unauthorized scanning of visual materials.
January—Executive Director Francine Butler retires and is praised by NANPA for her work for the association since its inception. Annette Rogers is named Executive Director.
February 16–21—Reno, Nevada, hosts NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit.
Responding to complaints within and outside the membership about certain game farms where animals are kept solely for photography and not treated well, NANPA decides not to accept advertising or rent its list to any mammal game farms, since it cannot make standards and judge which facilities are acceptable.
NANPA adds this phrase to its mission statement: “…and encourages responsible photography in the wild.”
NANPA approves the concept of the Teach the Teachers program to be implemented in conjunction with the Road Shows once the remodeling of the Road Show concept is viable.
January—NANPA moves from a July-June membership year structure to one of an anniversary date renewal.
March 9–12—NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show is held in McAllen, Texas. New this year is an evening event at the nearby Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center.
After much discussion, the NANPA Board approves the idea of having Nature Photography Summits every other year, stemming from financial concerns, starting with the 2012 Summit which will be moved to 2013.
April—The NANPA Board approves production of an ebook of approximately 25 pages tentatively titled 5 Tips From 5 NANPA Pros, to be given to all new and renewed members.
May—Because of financial and other concerns, NANPA terminates the contract with Resource Center for Associations and takes immediate steps to assume the work of the staff. Past President Susan Day steps down from the NANPA Board and is named executive director, replacing Annette Rogers, who is thanked by NANPA for her efforts over the years.
June—NANPA and the Resource Center for Associations sign a transition agreement to ease the exchange of NANPA files and other property. A new NANPA office is established in Alma, Illinois.
July—Ripples is discontinued, to be replaced by an enewsletter with links to articles on NANPA’s website.
August—NANPA participates as an exhibitor at the PDN Outdoor Photo Expo.
March—NANPA forms a Presidents’ Advisory Council, made up of all past NANPA presidents, which would act in an advisory capacity to the Board, committees and staff when needed.
July—NANPA agrees to participate in a University of Virginia School of Law project that examines the effect of different intellectual property systems on creativity and innovation. This particular study examines how photographers value their own work.
February 28–March 3—NANPA celebrates the start of its 20th anniversary year at its Nature Photography Summit in Jacksonville, Florida. A unique event is the live concert by the Jacksonville Symphony celebrating nature photography and featuring images by Robert Glenn Ketchum and NANPA Showcase winners.
NANPA approves the use of its name as a potential supporter of and potential participant in the Copyright Clearance Center’s image licensing model.
NANPA initiates MeetUp Groups, a means for members and non-members to get together regionally to photograph and share ideas about nature and photography.
September—The first issue of the new NANPA newsletter, called eNews, is published.
October—Ten images from the 2013 NANPA High School Scholarship Program are included in the Grand Opening exhibit of the International Photography Hall of Fame in St Louis, Missouri.
NANPA’s color magazine, Currents, is suspended while discussions are underway on the editorial direction of the publication.