Thursday, April 4, 2013

NANPA High School Scholarship Program

From left to right: Lione Clare, Tim Harding, David Moynahan, Sophie Harrison, Mark Kreider, Larkin Keys, Missy McDonough, Ray Pfortner, Avery Locklear, Carolyn Derrington-Tate, Victoria Cruz, Jenaya Launstein, Mac Stone
The North American Nature Photography Association annual summit was a success this year in Jacksonville, Florida. As always, it was an incredible experience and great to see old friends and a fresh batch of high school scholarship students. This year I was lucky enough to be chair of the scholarship program which is really great considering that 11 years ago it was me who was one of the students attending the summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What a full circle!

NANPA High School students around a fire on Cumberland Island
As chair of the program, I wanted to mix things up a bit and try something new. In years past, we would stay at the summit hotel then make day trips out to various locations to shoot. Since I was so familiar with the area already, I knew there was a great opportunity to actually spend a few nights out in the field, camping with the kids and really focusing on making images from dawn to dusk and well into the night. First, though, was assembling a team of instructors: Ray Pfortner, David Moynahan, and Carolyn Derrington-Tate. Along with a solid team, we had great sponsorships this year from Canon, Wimberley, Manfrotto/Bogen, Delkin, and Hunts Photo and Video.

Victoria Cruz runs through a tidal pond on Cumberland Island while photographing wild marsh tackies
While camping, we had our fair share of obstacles. The weather was not cooperating and it poured for the first day and a half. Still, the kids kept their positivity and thrived in the less than optimal conditions.  We ate delicious meals around a blazing campfire, chased wild horses around the tidal marshes, and braved the winds and sands of Cumberland Island's coastline. The images the students made were absolutely stunning and they all have a bright future ahead of them.

Victoria Cruz, Lione Clare, and Sophie Harrison photograph wild horses on Cumberland Island
After the full week of photography, workshops, and keynotes, the students had a chance to showcase their images to more than 400 photographers on the last evening just before Art Wolfe gave his lifetime achievement speech. The students had 15 minutes to present their work and here is the video of that speech. I can't tell you how proud I am to have spent a week with this brilliant individuals.