Exciting Changes Coming to NPN!

Hello everyone,

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:

Complete

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. :wave: 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.
  4. 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.

Coming Soon

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Sincerely,
David Kingham

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Hi David,

I have been following most of the discussions as closely as I could, and contributing where I felt it was appropriate. I tried to be careful to not duplicate other suggestions.

It all looks great!

I would like to help as a mentor when the opportunity arises, meanwhile I will continue providing feedback, critique and encouragement where I can.

I just want to say thanks for all of your hard work on the improvements so we can become “The” place to go for learning, and sharing our passion for capturing nature as we see it.

Well done and thanks again! :slight_smile:

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@David_Kingham , NICE work! And I know it was/is a lot of work too. It is very exciting to me, a relatively new user (less than a year) to see the site revitalized and to see the amazing input you have gotten from users in the process. Thank you!

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David, I have one minor suggestion. Rather than a “Beginners” category, what about calling it “Want help” or “Looking for advice” or something like that. If NPN starts attracting beginners, then maybe they’ll be willing to self identify, but I can also see regulars trying new directions wanting advice and feeling like they don’t belong as beginners. This idea may overlap a fair amount with your “process my photo” area.

You’ve got some excellent ideas.

Mark

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This sounds like a solid plan to me; it consolidates the mission of the forum.

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David, these are some pretty significant and cool changes!

That’s a nice thing to do: oh, periodically review your website.

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Thank you David, Jennifer and NPN team for all the work you have put in making NPN a better place for the nature photographer.

I really like the direction you’re headed and here to support when and where I can . In fact, put my name in the hat for volunteering as a mentor! A lot great potential with such a program.

Thank you!

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Thanks David. Wow this sounds really good. I plan to be more active this year although it will be gradually. I might sign up for one of your mentors too!

Michel

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I believe that these changes will strengthen provide more benefits to the users of NPN. I can help with macro and flora photography if you need assistance…Jim

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Seems like a really great list of updates! Looking forward to seeing where things go, and there are all things that will likely mean I visit the site more often.

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As someone who has followed this site for a few years, I love the new additions of the online magazine and especially the beginners section. I have been hesitant to participate too much because my photos are not as good as others posting here, hesitate to ask a “dumb” question or a question that has probably already been addressed a dozen times or more, don’t feel I have enough knowledge to critique, don’t want to post to a wrong area, etc., so for a beginners section I feel it is kind of a “safe area” for me to dip my toe in. Thank you for improving this great site even more.

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I’m glad that you feel positive about a beginner’s space, but it makes me sad that you haven’t participated for the other reasons you state. I, for one, try to couch my replies and comments in constructive, friendly and sometimes cheeky ways. NPN is the most friendly and on-target photo communities I’ve ever been a part of, but I agree that the level of photography is very high and can be intimidating. Can you talk about what we could do (other than the beginner section) to help less-experienced or shyer photographers join in and participate? If you’d rather PM me about that, no problem, but I bet others would be interested as well.

I know you asked what NPN could do to entice less-experienced photographers to join in other than the beginner section, but I really feel having the beginner’s section is the answer to getting others to feel more comfortable. I am sure some of the hesitancy I have is just me and may not be the reason other beginners wait to jump in. As with most things, we become more comfortable the more we participate.

I will say, though, that several years ago I was following a member named Barbara. If I saw her last name I would remember it, but it has been a while. I believe she was from Florida and did a lot of birds. She asked a lot of questions and it seemed like her photos were improving from the instruction and direction from this site. There was always positive feedback and help along the way and I was impressed with that. I suppose that is why I have continued to follow in the background.

Possibly if there are others like me that have waited to participate more fully, they could take the first step in their journey and add what has made them hesitate to participate.

Thank you Kristen for asking.

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