In January, I was pleased to attend the North American Nature Photography Association's (NANPA) 10th Anniversary Summit in Portland, Ore., for the first day of their four-day event. My experience there would set the tone for this issue of PhotoMedia, which is devoted to nature and wildlife photography.
About 700 attendees from across the continent (and some from overseas) made the pilgrimage to the summit, and it quickly became clear that everyone there had something very much in common. At first, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The atmosphere at the trade show was upbeat, although many of the photographers present expressed concerns about the state of the economy and its impact on their businesses, as well as how the recent policies of our government were compromising the environment. (Of course, the rapidly rising cost of gas and our dependence as a society on fossil fuels has since become a mainstream topic.) The many seminars scheduled also provided a forum to share ideas about industry issues, business practices and technological advances.
Following the trade show, a reception provided the setting for attendees to converse more personally. Many of the luminaries in the industry were present to share in the festivities and camaraderie, in what clearly was an intimate community ambience.
But it wasn't until the evening slide presentations by about 15 NANPA members that my impressions crystallized. All of the presenters shared a passion for their work that suggested a connection to their subjects that was ultimately spiritual and, in some cases, even religious. These were people who genuinely care about the preciousness and beauty of our world and the need to preserve it.
In this issue, we hope to provide some insight into that underlying current that connects all nature photographers: respecting and preserving our natural surroundings and the creatures who live there.
It seems fitting that our cover story presents our eighth annual PhotoMedia Photography Person of the Year award to George Lepp, one of the foremost nature photographers and educators on the scene. I first met George about 10 years ago, and he is one of the most approachable and enthusiastic individuals I've encountered in the industry and someone thoroughly generous in sharing his knowledge.
Not only is George a role model in his creative expression and business practices, but he always has put an emphasis on teaching and inspiring others through his writing of articles and books, and presentations of seminars and workshops. His commitment to education took a giant leap when he established the George Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging in Los Osos, Calif. in 2001 and has helped many make the challenging transition into the sophisticated world of digital photo technologies with methodology and confidence. As his colleagues will attest, George is one of the most respected and likeable personalities in the business and a most deserving recipient of our award.
In another story, Gary Voth guides you through the challenges of photographing digitally while in remote locations, in this case an African photo safari, where power sources are almost entirely unavailable. While his photos will inspire you, his anecdotes will entertain you and his tips will provide valuable solutions for the problems one is bound to confront in the field.
Our story on the ICF Pro-Tour in Texas rounds out our theme coverage with an introduction to one of the most ambitious nature and wildlife photo contests ever conceived.
Finally, I am proud to announce that PhotoMedia recently won a 2004 Maggie Award for publishing excellence (our third in nine nominations in five years) in the category of Best Overall Tabloid/Trade for our Spring/Summer 2003 issue. The magazine also was nominated for Best Interview or Profile/Trade for our feature on Art Wolfe in the same issue.
As always, please let our advertisers know that you saw their ads in PhotoMedia. Their support is largely responsible for our being able to bring you in-depth coverage of the world of photography for free. In this struggling economy, our advertisers need to know, more than ever, that their advertising dollars are being well spent. Also, please help us out by taking our web site survey and let us know how we're doing.Enjoy the issue!
Gary Halpern, Publisher