NANPA Summit 2010

A look at the annual meeting of the North American Nature Photography Association

Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. This photograph was taken by Rob Sheppard as he was traveling to this year’s NANPA Summit, which was held in Reno, Nevada.

It was off to Reno, Nev., for the 2010 North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Summit. The summit was filled with lots of inspiration, information and great opportunities to meet and connect with all sorts of nature photographers, including some of the top names in the field. I always enjoy getting together with nature-photography-loving friends from across the country whom I wouldn’t see otherwise, and I always learn something new from the conference.

Jim Clark and his son, Carson, were the co-emcees for the event. Jim always is entertaining, but 10-year-old Carson was a big hit and inspiration with his short talk about his “life in photography.”

The keynote speeches tend to be consistently inspirational and well attended by the crowd. Phil Borges gave some interesting perspectives on working with people throughout the world with his distinctive photography. He talked about his projects and how he gets them done. George Lepp had a wonderful discussion and overview of the cool things one now can do with digital photography. Staffan Widstrand gave a fascinating look at a European photographic project called “Wild Wonders of Europe.” The 66 photographers involved in the project gave an inside look at what’s positive about nature in Europe, as well as a call to action to address threats to the environment. Joel Sartore offered a personal look at where his photography is at now, both from the point of view of a National Geographic photographer and from someone facing midlife challenges.

Breakouts are an important part of the summit, with a great range of topics. They run concurrently, so you have to pick and choose. This year featured a terrific variety, including a session on selling your work (especially in galleries) by Aletta de Wal, a panel discussion on strategies for successful stock shooting, an inspirational talk about successful photography by Darrell Gulin, a look at optimizing image files in the computer by Lewis Kemper, a session on video for photographers with Ian Shive and myself, a discussion of landscape photography and Chinese influences with George DeWolfe, and a lively talk about using photography to heal the environment by Molly Steinwald and Kevin FitzPatrick.

Portfolio reviews are a popular part of NANPA, and I enjoy doing them, too. This is an opportunity for photographers to visit with some of the top photographers and editors, and show their work to gain feedback. There were 126 reviews with 48 participants and 21 reviewers.

Also important at NANPA are the high-school and college programs. These programs gather two groups of young people together for an intense time at the summit, including photography field trips and meetings with many of the top pros in nature photography.

For me, the summit highlight was Piotr Naskrecki’s presentation at the special conservation photography event. Garth Lenz, who also was scheduled, unfortunately couldn’t attend, and much of the evening was taken up by worthwhile talks about environmental photography awards and groups. After a break, a much smaller group came back for Piotr’s slideshow, which was a shame, because he’s a delightful speaker with astonishing photography. He specializes in insect photography, but this is unlike most insect photography you’ve ever seen. You always can tell that photos make an impression when the whole audience makes audible expressions of joy and surprise during the presentation.

Next year’s summit will be held March 9-13 in McAllen, Texas. It’s an inspirational event well worth attending if you’re serious about nature photography. You don’t need to be a pro or even want to be a pro. It’s about the celebration of nature photography at all levels. Check out NANPA’s website,, for details in the coming months.

Rob Sheppard is Editor At Large for Outdoor Photographer and a NANPA Fellow. Visit his website at