With the new year, it is time to evaluate the direction of NPN. While it has been a fantastic year with many exciting changes, we want to refine the site further and make it the best community for nature photographers.
I want to start this off by sharing with you the NPN mission statement for context:
The Nature Photographers Network is dedicated to empowering and inspiring nature photographers to reach their creative and technical heights through education, artistic development, and community connection. We provide a warm and supportive environment for members to receive constructive feedback on their image’s technical, aesthetic, conceptual, and emotional aspects. At the same time, members are encouraged to give feedback on other images to promote their growth and show community support. By fostering a collaborative and welcoming environment, we strive to go beyond surface-level social media interactions to help our members reach their full potential in the art and craft of nature photography.
Below are the changes that have already happened or are coming soon:
- We have refined the critique submission form to add new fields to select from and improved the wording overall. You can now select the type of critique you want; aesthetic, conceptual, emotional, or technical, and each has descriptions. This will help you think about your image more while helping the person giving the critique understand what you are looking for.
- Tags have been removed from the critique categories, except for the editor’s pick and critique guest. It was determined that these are rarely used and only add clutter to the site.
- you may have noticed this symbol next to some members’ names. This indicates that the member is new to the site and automatically disappears as they start participating more. It’s intended to give notice to members who have been here a while to be extra supportive of these new members. This does not mean they are new to photography, just to the site.
- The Showcase category is being repurposed and moved to the chat feature. We do not take this lightly, as several members post here regularly. After creating a solid mission statement, we realized that the Showcase section did not align with the mission of learning and growth. It was too similar to what you can get on social media, and we want to be different here. NPN has always been the place to come for open, honest critiques, and we want to extend this further. The Showcase section diluted that message and caused confusion for new users on where to post an image. On top of that, it could have been more active and made the site appear stagnant. The former showcase section is moving to a new chat channel called ‘Photo Share’; everyone is a member of this new channel, and you can easily leave the channel on this page if you like. The chat is more ephemeral and less noticeable; therefore, it won’t distract from the site’s primary mission but will still allow you to share your photos. The Showcase section will be around for another week to allow you to get any information you need from there, but no new topics can be created. You can find it here or at the bottom of the Categories page.
- Mentor program - we will have a group of volunteer mentors that can help new members with one-on-one feedback, help navigating the site, and encouragement. There will be a list of mentors you can connect with and a description of what areas they excel at. Please let us know if you would like to volunteer as a mentor!
- We want to encourage more members to give feedback on images in the critique section, and part of that is making everyone more confident to give critiques. We have always had the article “The Art of Image Critique,” which all members should read to help improve giving and receiving critiques. We want to get this information out to a broader audience. Therefore, we are creating an infographic to help distill this reasonably long article into something easily digestible. We will also have webinars to teach you how to give better critiques and examples from the site. A set of emails to onboard new members will also help educate new members.
- Beginners category - This will be an area where beginners can post their images for feedback. NPN is chock full of incredible images, and it can be highly intimidating for a beginner to jump right in with such a talented group. Members will self-identify if they want to post in the group. There is also a new question we ask members who are signing up on what their skill level is in photography to help identify beginners and help them on their path. This shows up in your profile, and you can now set your skill level in your profile. A select group who want to help beginners will regularly participate in this new category and encourage them to take the next step by posting in the critique section as they grow beyond this.
- Projects! - We will finally have a place to share and get feedback on a suite of images; this will be its own category within the critiques category where you can share any type of project focused on nature photography. You will be able to share multiple images, a PDF you have created, or a link to a blog post to get feedback on how the images work together rather than feedback on each individual image.
- How would you process my photo? This will be a fun new area where you can upload one of your raw files and let other members process it to their vision. Seeing many different styles is a great way to get new ideas and learn new techniques.
- The NPN Online Magazine - It’s coming! We will announce more details soon. We will continue to have shorter and technical articles on the blog, but longer-form creative articles will be moving to the magazine. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to the magazine or the blog with articles.
We are very excited for the future of NPN and hope you are too!