NANPA Summit 2023 Was Inspiring! Don’t Miss 2025

Posted May. 13th, 2023 by Daniel J. Cox

NANPA Summit 2023 was inspiring! Don’t miss NANPA Summit 2025

Many people might think that wildlife and nature photographers are a lonely group. And I often believe that is the case. One could argue that sitting in a blind for days or weeks wouldn’t qualify as a social event.

But thankfully, every two years, natural history photographers have a wonderful opportunity to come together. A chance to get out of the blind and talk shop, visit camera and other vendors, and get inspired by fellow photographers. That event is the North American Nature Photography Association, also known as the NANPA Summit.

The Westin La Paloma Resort, Tucson, Arizona

This year’s Summit was held in Tucson, Arizona, at the Westin La Paloma Resort. The Westin was remarkable for its wildlife on the property, literally outside our room door. We were told the Westin worked with the Nature Conservancy when they originally built the resort, and it shows. 

Costa's hummingbird female nesting in the gardens of the The Westin La Paloma Resort, Tuscon, Arizona
Costa’s hummingbird, female nesting in the gardens of the Westin La Paloma Resort, Tucson, Arizona

There were so many birds in nesting situations, including a Great Horned Owl, Vermilion flycatchers, and Costa’s hummingbird. I missed more than one program I wanted to see because I could not pull myself away from a nesting hummingbird that had no issues with people being very close but staying on the sidewalk.

A male Vermilion flycatcher, In the branches of a pine tree just outside my hotel room. Tuscon, Arizona

Photography Field Trips 

Like years past, there were many interesting field trips with accomplished photographers, including National Parks at Night co-founder Gabriel Biderman and B&H National Park Maven Michael Hollender, for a hands-on night photography experience at Saguaro National Park.

Natural Exposures Explorers Jim Heywood, Gary Woods, and Dave Easton working on getting just the right image of the local giant saguaro cactus.

The Sweetwaters Wetland for waterbirds is in Arizona of all places. Hummingbird Photography Stations, Birds at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, and many more exciting hands-on experiences.

A great horned owl perched in a tree just outside the hotel’s gift shop. The Westin La Paloma Resort, Tucson, Arizona.

Inspirational Keynote Presentations

Along with the many field trips, there were numerous inspiring keynote presentations. I especially liked Dave Showalter’s Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado. Equally inspiring was Gabby Salazar’s Finding Creativity in Collaboration, and the amazing work of Adam Schallau, who presented From Rim to River: A Photographic Exploration of the Grand Canyon.

Presentation on landscape photography at the 2023 NANPA Summit in Tucson, Arizona.

 Portfolio Reviews

There were also portfolio reviews where a professional photographer or agent would critique your work. You could choose the professional who best fit your personal and professional photography goals.

Tom Kennedy and Thomas of ASMP Kennedy’s work with National Geographic

One of those professionals was Thomas Kennedy, former Director of Photography at National Geographic. Along with his portfolio reviews, Mr. Kennedy spent a couple of hours in a question-and-answer session discussing the projects he worked on at National Geographic.

What really matters is camaraderie and friendship.

NANPA is a great place to learn, but it’s even better for making long-lasting friendships with like-minded people. Tanya and I were fortunate to have a small group of Natural Exposures Explorers that came from all over the US and one from Germany. Meeting at NANPA was a great opportunity to get together and celebrate seeing long-time Explorer Freddy Kurtz, who’s traveled with us at least 25 times. Thank you Gary Woods, for lighting the fire to make this all happen.

Fred Kurtz outside our hotel room photographing birds. Arizona

Explorers Jim and Mimi Heywood, local residents of Tucson, invited all over to their new home for an exceptional cookout and a chance for a group photo. Lots of memories with these people in the past and adding this special event was icing on the cake.

The whole crew at Jim and Mimi’s house outside of Tucson. Joel Kleiner, on the far right side, has 30 trips with Natural Exposures. Freddy Kurtz has 25. Everybody in this photo has over 10 trips each.

The guy who ignited the spark to come see Freddy

Celebrating Gary’s birthday at Jim and Mimi’s house in Tucson, Arizona.

Finally, we end the fun with a birthday celebration for Gary Woods. Gary’s been on a lot of trips with us and a couple were more exciting than any of us want to remember. He was the one that inspired the idea for this reunion of sorts in Tucson. It was certainly a trip to remember. Thanks, everybody!

Add Your Voice!
There is 1 comment on this post…
  1. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn May. 13th, 2023

    Wow Dan – I just saw this blog and what a nice surprise to see it. I am still stunned that everyone came. It was such a great time with my NE family. I love you all to pieces.

    Thanks Gary for the idea and for Tanya executing the logistics. I cannot thank you enough.

    P.S., Jim mad Mimi’s house is spectacular.

Add your voice to this conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In an effort to combat spam, your comment may be held for a brief moderation period.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.