ePHOTOzine member Peter Madeley is also heavily involved with a small group of wildlife photographers. In this article he talks about the North West Nature Group and informs us how we can set up similar groups.
The North West Nature Group NWNG aims to allow keen amateur photographers to 'put something back' into local wildlife conservation, through projects and activities, whilst extending our own photographic experience through shared expertise and increase our enjoyment of photography and wildlife.
A programme of events is planned during the year but we do see involvement in the NWNG as meaning participation. There are presently 18 active members donating images to North West nature conservation bodies, which rely heavily on volunteers of all types. We are just ordinary people with a range of photographic abilities with a common aim. We hope our combined photographic expertise can be of benefit to make a difference to nature conservation bodies at the local level based in Lancashire/Merseyside. Some members live outside this area and still become involved with NWNG projects travelling from as far a field as the South Coast to Cumbria and the North East.
The NWNG is entirely volunteer based with no subscription. All we ask is a commitment from members to make a positive contribution through photography. Formed in May 2003, we have already held 5 field meetings, submitted over 650 images to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust for their use, held a digital photography workshop and are committed to 3 exhibitions this autumn for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust at the new Cuerden Valley Park Headquarters and Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve. We have a range of events planned for the Autumn/Winter season to promote nature photography amongst the members and share our wealth of experience. All the activities, events and successes are reported via the NWNG website which has news, galleries, competition and downloads pages plus a features section containing articles from our members and friends of the group.
Common goals and a love of the natural world are our driving force and we will gladly support anyone who wishes to set up something similar in their own area. Here's how we did it.
- First place is to contact your local wildlife trust to see if they need images for free - they aren't going to say no
- Next look for fellow like minded people in your area - The photo forums such as ePHOTOzine are useful for this.
- Have a few projects in mind and a website set up before any announcements are made. You can have ours as a template and just modify to suit yourself
- Field meets are great fun and really easy to organise. A ranger takes you around a reserve in the morning, with no photography being done so you aren't waiting for each other. The idea is for the ranger to show you what is there and what needs photographing. The afternoon is spent taking the shots and sharing ideas and techniques.
- Once established find a HQ where you can meet for slide/print viewing and discussion activities rather than photography to keep the impetus going during the winter months.
- Exploit all links on a favour basis. It is amazing how the contacts and links start to develop. It's all about having a shared direction to be out there doing realistic projects rather than talking about doing them and the willingness to all do your bit, rather than relying on one person.
- We keep money out of the group completely. The reward depends on the input you make.
All images made by North West Nature Group members Ian Bamber, Kris Mercer and Peter Madeley (EOSPETE)