Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers
BY RAY BULSON
Readers of this magazine are familiar with images of vast landscapes, scenic wonders, and iconic wildlife that is the state of Alaska. But did you know there is a group of local enthusiasts dedicated to capturing this beauty photographically? Indeed, many of their photographs have appeared in Alaska. The Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers (ASONP), founded in 1985, is an educational, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote public education, self-improvement, and ethics in outdoor and nature photography. Current membership exceeds 130 individuals and 15 local photographic businesses. Skill levels across the board from beginners to professionals are represented.
Meetings, free and open to the public, are held the second Tuesday of the month at the Anchorage Museum at the Rasmuson Center in Anchorage from October through May. Each month’s meeting centers around a presentation that may range from travel locations and outdoor adventures, to lectures on the mechanics of photography, equipment, and post-processing software to marketing and the business of photography. Many presenters are members, while others prominent in photography and travel/outdoor activities come from outside the society. At the end of each meeting members have the opportunity to share some of their current work in a “member’s slide show,” a throwback term to when photographs were made on slide film and presented through a slide projector. Members talk about their photos, often soliciting feedback and constructive criticism.
ASONP publishes a monthly newsletter, The Viewfinder, that includes personal experiences at photo locations around Alaska, equipment reviews, photography techniques, a technical advice column, information on upcoming workshops offered by business members, and as space allows, another opportunity for members to show off their work. Throughout the year, but mainly during the summer months, ASONP offers multi-day photography workshops led by local as well as nationally renowned professional photographers. Subjects and locations vary from photographing flowers in Girdwood to brown bears in Lake Clark National Park or sled dogs in the Alaska Range. These workshops are subsidized by membership dues and can be a significant bargain for members compared to the non-member price. Last year ASONP sponsored the first photography conference in Anchorage called PhotoFest. Prominent, nationally known, keynote speakers and many breakout sessions covering a variety of subjects were well received.
ASONP organizes an annual juried photo exhibition called alaskaWILD,
Alaska’s only exhibition solely dedicated to celebrating the unique beauty and wildness of Alaska and to promote local amateur and professional photographers. Images are submitted for judging in five categories: fauna, landscape, flora, black & white, and creative. A panel of three judges then selects the final images for the show with additional selections made for best of show, best of category, and several images worthy of honorable mention. Best of show and best of category winners receive cash awards, typically between $250 and $500. Unlike many juried shows, prints of images in this exhibit are available for purchase. In past years the show has traveled to venues across the state. A book of all the images in the exhibition is also made available for sale to the public. While entry is available to any Alaskan, ASONP members enjoy a reduced entry fee.
Earlier this year ASONP’s board of directors met with a business consultant
to expand the society’s efforts to reach out to the photographic community by using social media and branding. With the consultant’s help the board created a mantra to clearly and plainly represent ASONP’s vision for the future of the society. A circular logo was designed that includes these four words: Learn-CreateShare-Inspire. ASONP is dedicated to helping the photography community learn more about outdoor and nature photography so that through learning, individuals can make creative photographic imagery and share it through outlets like society meetings, publications, and exhibits to inspire others.
Anyone interested in a schedule of upcoming events, workshops, or exhibits
or in becoming a member of the Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers can get more information by visiting the society’s website, asonp.org.
Ray Bulson is a nature photographer (raybulson.com) based in Eagle River and is president of the Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers.