Earlier this year, I wrote about the benefits of attending portfolio reviews at the North American Nature Photography Association's (NANPA) annual Nature Photography Summit (http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/community/blogs/in-the-zone/getting-feedback.html). Portfolio reviews are a great way to get instant feedback from picture professionals, and I still highly recommend the experience for anyone interested in improving their photography or making connections with picture buyers. The 2011 Summit is scheduled for March 9-12 in McAllen, Texas, and it is shaping up to be the usual great mix of inspiration, learning opportunities, and non-stop networking. The McAllen Summit features photo field trips, outdoor and indoor workshops, and breakout sessions that touch on a variety of topics pertinent to outdoor photographers interested in creative learning, photo business skills, and cutting-edge software techniques. Speakers and instructors include Jack Dykinga, Daniel Beltra, Michelle Westmoreland, and Photoshop guru Julianne Kost. If you're not familiar with McAllen, it's located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, the heart of one of the best birding locations in the U.S. that offers plenty of opportunities for shooting "big sky" landscapes as well.
I have been attending these summits since 1997. At that time, my main hope in attending a summit was the hope of selling some photos to magazine and calendar editors. While that certainly has happened, picture sales are really only one small benefit I've realized from taking part in this event. More lasting for me has been the inspiration and ideas I get from watching the keynote presentations and meeting others who are successful in the field. Slide shows given by photographers like Daivd Meunch, Nick Nichols, Dewitt Jones, and Jim Brandenburg still resonate with me years later. I can also trace the fact that I've focused my career on conservation to several conversations I've had with Gary Braasch and Robert Glenn Ketchum. Without attending past summits, I never would have met these great conservationist photographers or heard their advice. The same goes for the numerous editors I now know personally from magazines like Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife, and Ranger Rick. And the idea for at least two of my books came from conversations I've had at past summits.
Not surprisingly, I heartily recommend attending the McAllen Summit. To learn more, visit: www.nanpasummit.com.