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Ten Years of NPN
Text copyright © Jim Erhardt. All rights reserved.

It was the fall of 1999 that my dissatisfaction with Internet photography forums really began to irk me. While there was no shortage of photography-related sites and photo critique forums to chose from, there was most certainly a shortage of sites that were managed as a serious resource for those serious about their photography. Unresponsive site administrators and outdated editorial content prevailed, and rude behavior reigned supreme in many photo forums. It struck me that while the Internet represented a powerful medium for those serious about their photography, few webmasters took advantage of the opportunity. So it was under those circumstances that the vision for a better photography website began to form and the determination to bring such a site to fruition.

The Vision

First and foremost, the new site had to set a tone of respect. The flaming and verbal brawls found on other sites would not be acceptable and everyone participating on the site would be held to a higher standard. The key to success in achieving this goal would be quite simple - new members would be greeted with respect and an understanding that we all started out with a lack of photographic skills and experience. Everyone would be free to advance their skills to any level and at any pace without the fear of ridicule or being made to feel inadequate.

An important part of maintaining the tone over the long haul would be maintaining the focus of the site - the art and technique of nature photography. Limiting the scope of the site would provide maximum benefit for those who enjoy photographing the natural world and also serve as a refuge from all of the contentious issues that divide us on a daily basis. For this reason the discussion of politics, religion or any other topic that has no relevance to nature photography would not be welcome on the site.

Additionally, the new site would serve as nature photography resource with monthly articles. Just like a printed magazine, each new monthly online issue would feature a selection of articles contributed by members and professional photographers. While there were sites at the time that included photography articles, few if any were updated on a monthly basis with new material. In keeping with the online magazine theme, the new site would feature a monthly cover photo that would greet surfers when they visited the site. Ahead of its time, without the costly and wasteful infrastructure of printed magazine production and distribution, the new publication would also be "green" (long before it became popular to be so).

The final aspect of the original vision would be a site devoid of blatant commercialism. Much like public television, the site would be financially maintained by paid membership, not by paid advertising that would clutter the pages with unsightly (and highly annoying) banner ads. This would also help maintain the focus of the site and keep it an enjoyable place to visit.

The Launch

With a clear vision in mind and some rather rudimentary web page building skills, the first issue of Nature Photographers Online Magazine appeared on the Internet in April, 2000. Along with a group of local nature photography enthusiasts and a group of people I knew through my participation on other photography websites, NPN began its online journey from a small group of people who shared in the passion for nature photography to the Internet’s top-ranked nature photography resource with over 100,000 unique monthly visitors generating over 2 million monthly page views. To this day, NPN still fully embraces the original vision and serves as the model for other nature photography sites.

NPN Today

NPN members have regularly thanked me for my time and effort in maintaining this site, and it has been my pleasure! The truth of the matter is that I derive tremendous satisfaction witnessing people grow in photographic skill and freely pass their expertise on to new members. Without a doubt, this has been the greatest reward for me personally over the last 10 years.

However, the real story of NPN is not about me or the site, it is about the people who participate and share their time and expertise for the simple joy of doing so. Without the passion and dedication of those who participate, there would be no NPN story to tell. Anyone can acquire a domain name and build a website, but without quality participation it would be just another URL on the Internet. So to all NPN members - past and present - my sincere thanks for making NPN the success it has been. It has truly been an honor to provide a place for you to share your passion for the art and technique of nature photography.

Special Thanks

This story would not be complete without the mention of one very special person - my loving wife Donna. Without her support over the years, I no doubt would have buckled under the weight of managing NPN and a professional career at the same time. Today, Donna works behind the scenes every day maintaining a high level of customer service while I’m away with the "real job."

Thank you Donna, I could not do it without you!

Member Stories

Has NPN influenced your nature photography? Do you have a NPN story to share? Please feel free to post it below in the comments section! Also, be sure to visit our 10 Years of NPN Gallery.

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Comment posted by Darren Huski on 04/03/10 at 07:55 am     

Congratz on 10 great years! 


NPN is the best resource on the net for nature photography.  Glad it's here and to be a part of it.

   Darren Huski
Fort Worth, Texas

Registered on 08/17/08, 61 Posts, 340 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio Member Blog
Comment posted by Stan Rose on 04/03/10 at 2:48 pm     

Thanks, Jim! Your work is very much appreciated. I joined NPN about 5 years ago on a friend's recommendation, when I asked him for suggestions on clubs/groups where I could learn more about photography. At the time, I had only been using an SLR for about a year or so. I can say without a doubt  that my skills as a photographer have improved 1000 percent since joining this network, and I have learned more from this group than from all other sources combined. I have also made numerous friends, both online and off, through my association with this group. I consider it a distinct privlege and honor to be in my second year as a moderator, and I hope to continue my involvement with NPN so long as it's here! So here's a long distance toast to you and NPN!

   Stan Rose
Pueblo, Colorado
New! Weather Forecasting for Photographers

Registered on 09/15/05, 836 Posts, 17099 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio
Comment posted by on 04/03/10 at 7:33 pm     

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jim! although I've learned so much about photography on NPN, and most certainly bettered my skills as a result of my membership, it's the many wonderful friendships I've made via NPN that have kept me coming back for 8+ years. They're friendships that will certainly last a lifetime.  The support and encouragement I received from members when I became ill with my eye disease is something that touched my heart so very deeply in so many ways, and NPN will always hold a special place in my heart for that.  NPN is so much more than a photography forum, and my heartfelt thanks goes out to you and Dona for holding fast to your vision and for your continued efforts to keep NPN the very best photography forum on the net. Congrats on 10 years and here's to 10 more! (insert toasts here)  :)

Registered on //, Posts, Comments   
Comment posted by Bill Chambers on 04/06/10 at 09:31 am     

A big THANK YOU to both Jim & Donna for creating, building, and maintaining NPN for the past 10 years.  I've only been a member for 5 of those years, but I've derived so much knowledge, satisfaction, and friendships from being a member of this great resource.  Thanks you once again!!

   Bill Chambers
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Please visit Enchanted Light Photography
Landscape & Man and Nature Co-Moderator

“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” - Ansel Adams

Registered on 04/10/05, 753 Posts, 21216 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio NPN Member
Comment posted by Wayne Jones on 04/06/10 at 9:50 pm     


Your vision in creating NPN, and the hard work and determination of you, Donna, and the staff in making it grow for the past decade has meant a lot to me, and not just photographically.  NPN has been a big factor in my growth as a photographer (even after 50 years as a fairly serious photographer).  That is mainly due to the fine examples of photography I see here, and especially due to the willingness of NPN members to share their knowledge and talents.  On a more personal level, you and the members of  NPN  were just as generous with friendship, support and encouragement when I was stricken with cancer in 2008.  The NPN family, as well as my immediate family and friends were and still are vitally important in getting me through some very difficult times.  My words of thanks can’t begin to express what a positive and wonderful difference you all have made in my life. 

It is something of a paradox that concentrating exclusively on nature photography in a positive way has resulted in creating a broader positive force.  I know that there are other NPN members who derive inspiration from NPN that affects their lives in ways that extend far beyond the realm of photography.  THANK YOU!

   Wayne Jones
Upstate New York
The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again. William Beebe, 1906

Registered on 04/18/07, 953 Posts, 6435 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio NPN Member
Comment posted by Basil Greber on 04/07/10 at 01:56 am     

Fantastic Job, Jim & Donna!

   Basil Greber

Registered on 11/08/05, 219 Posts, 1340 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio NPN Member
Comment posted by Miro Susta on 04/08/10 at 04:32 am     

Hello Jim & Donna,

You have created a great natural photgraphy related site. I joined NPN nearly 4 years ago, and I believe that my photographing skill has improved since.

Before joining NPN I was participating in another photo forum group based in Europe. But I was very much disapointed with the quality (images & commnets) so I started browsing internet and tried few other similar sites but no one could be compared with NPN quality. 

This is thanks to your great work and also to very good participation of NPN Members and excellent Moderators.

I congratulate you to 10th NPN Aniverasry and wish you and all Memebrs and Moderators much success and many excellent photographs in the future.

Thank you Jim & Donna for your good work and thank you all Members and Moderators for sharing your knowledge and skill with us.

Capturing Moments

Registered on 08/18/06, 719 Posts, 3736 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio Member Blog
Comment posted by Jim Greenwood on 04/09/10 at 11:49 pm     

Congratulations Jim and Donna on this milestone! And congratulations as well to everyone else who has contributed to this great community over the past ten years, making NPN the unparalleled resource that it is today.

I am proud to have been a founding contributor to NPN, at Jim's invitation. When I look back at my ... average ... photograph in that modest article in the April 2000 edition, I am instantly reminded of just how much my photography has improved since then, due in no small part to all that I have learned here at NPN.

Here's to a decade of great success!

Jim Greenwood

Registered on 11/09/03, 229 Posts, 1523 Comments   Personal Website    NPN Member
Comment posted by Zachary Lake on 04/10/10 at 01:17 am     

Congratulations... and thank you very much for everything that NPN offers!

Registered on 07/01/08, 24 Posts, 120 Comments    Online Portfolio
Comment posted by S Govindarajan on 04/13/10 at 3:16 pm     

Congrats on the milestone, Jim! This is a tremendous resource - perhaps the best and certainly the most well-behaved, on the internet for nature photographers. Thanks for setting this up for all of us.

"And the moral of that is -`Be what you seem to be' - or if you'd like it put more simply - `Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.' " -The Duchess in Alice In Wonderland.

Registered on 04/19/08, 115 Posts, 1921 Comments   Personal Website    Member Blog NPN Member
Comment posted by Brian Schrayer on 04/24/10 at 11:52 am     

I have been enjoying the great work here on NPN since 2004. I am thankful to all who have been willing to share their wealth of knowledge and experience. I am just an amateur photographer and I don't post images frequently because I don't have as much time as I would like to photograph. Even so, I have learned a lot from those who have been willing to share their expertise so freely. Thanks to all who have made NPN possible!!

Brian Schrayer

Registered on 05/28/04, 114 Posts, 2890 Comments    NPN Member
Comment posted by Toni Lankerd on 05/04/10 at 12:42 pm     

NPN is more than *just* another photography site. It is a community of photographers with common goals in mind: to better our photography skills, help others by sharing information, and try to make the world a better place by sharing nature images that few of us would ever get a chance to see in person. 

Thank you, Donna and Jim, for this great site and all you have done!

Toni Lankerd
MWNP Moderator
Muskegon, Michigan

Wherever we go in the mountains, or indeed in any of God's wild fields, we find more than we seek. ~John Muir~

Registered on 01/03/05, 360 Posts, 4004 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio NPN Member
Comment posted by Jack Graham on 05/05/10 at 02:06 am     

Jim & Donna,


First of all, thanks for all work work and efforts in making NPN THE premier site on the Internet. These days I am probably gone more than here, and when here recharging batteries to continue m work. When I get the chance I sign in a read and admire the tremendous work of the participants in this site. Suffice it to say, the images are incomparable to anywhere else. . I truly believe this is due to the information flow , forums and camaraderie of the members here on NPN. This is a reflection of the 'culture" that exists here, and frankly has from the beginning.

Kudos to all my fellow members and I know in 2020, we'll be saying the same about the 1st 20 years... no matter how and what mechanisms we'll be using to make images with!


Best regards, and thanks




   Jack Graham NPN 0469
Puyallup, Washington

"A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy".
............Galen Rowell

Registered on 11/26/03, 158 Posts, 574 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio Member Blog
Comment posted by Jim Erhardt on 05/05/10 at 05:44 am     

Thanks to all for taking the time to comment, and most of all, for being a part of NPN!

   Jim Erhardt
Bedford, NH

Registered on 11/01/03, 245 Posts, 2421 Comments   Personal Website    NPN Member
Comment posted by Mark Turner on 06/14/11 at 3:43 pm     

Thank you Jim, Donna and the staff of NPN that helps make this all happen.

I first joined NPN in 2005 after just getting started in nature photography with my first Digital SLR. It took me awhile to get up the nerve to post my first image, but during that time, I learned a great deal by looking at other postings and the C&Cs associated with each. It helped me develop a better eye for the images I was producing. It's also been a great resource of information with the articles and forums as well as getting great answers to direct questions that I've posted myself. There's a great sense of community on the site and I log in practically every day if for nothing else, to just see what's going on and see what I can learn from any of the great new images posted.

Thanks again for a great site.

   Mark Turner
Madison, WI

Registered on 12/03/05, 39 Posts, 109 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio
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