Photo by Eric Bowles

Getting Out Again

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

We’ve just completed a very successful Smokies Weekend field trip. Thanks to Mike Thornton, Tricia Raffensperger and all the trip leaders and competition leaders who made this weekend such a terrific experience. While things have changed due to Covid, it was great to be outside again and have a chance to photograph some familiar locations.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee was exceptionally crowded – and that has been the case for months. We’re all looking for ways to get out and make photographs in nature, but recently that has often limited our travel to locations that are within driving distance. Fortunately, the Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway match that description for most of us.

There is no doubt things have changed. Across the country, conferences are largely on hold for now as we avoid large groups and meetings. Our Smokies event certainly had to adapt, and it felt different without the camaraderie of our large group meetings and photo competition. Travel to field locations was done in our individual vehicles – possibly with one other person – in order to maintain social distance and limit contact. But it was sure great being in the park and enjoying nature and photography. A lot of memories, stories and photos were created.

We’re going to use this experience to help us decide on a plan for the annual GNPA Expo in 2021. Many similar conferences are evolving into virtual events now. One of the big attractions of Jekyll Island as a conference site is that it provides so many photo opportunities. We could create an event that takes place mainly in the field, in order to limit gatherings. We could also consider a hybrid event, with field activities and virtual programming via Zoom. We’ll be asking for your input via survey later this month.

Before I close, I’d like to recognize the members who have joined our Communications team to help with the online blogs and newsletter. We now have more than 40 articles on the GNPA Blog, which can be accessed on our website. In addition, we have created the GNPA Newsletter, which offers additional content and feature articles which then become part of that website archive. Blog posts are updated on an ongoing basis, while the newsletter is produced every-other month. Our team – consisting of Tom Wilson, Ken Dunwoody, Armetrice Cabine, Cindi Kurczewski and Jamie Anderson – are responsible for coordinating the overall effort, selecting and assigning content, editing and posting the articles, and finding great photos to support those articles. Please join me in thanking them for all of their work on the newsletter and the blog. Make sure you check out those articles on our website, or when the GNPA newsletter hits your inbox.

Thanks for your continued support of GNPA.