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15 Years of NPN
Text Copyright Jim Erhardt, 2015


It seems like only yesterday I sat in front of my PC learning HTML. From that learning experience and my interest in nature photography was born the idea of a nature photography website that would feature a cover photo and monthly articles (like a printed magazine) and interactive forums for posting photos and discussing nature photography. From this humble beginning sprang naturephotographers.net in April of 2000.

While it seems like only yesterday to me, the fact of the matter is the Internet is a much different place than it was 15 years ago. At that time, there were roughly 12 million websites online: today, there are over one billion. Some other fun facts to place this in perspective;

  • In April of 2000, Mark Zuckerberg was 15 years old

  • In November 2001, Canon released its 4.1 megapixel EOS-1D, the brand's first professional digital body

  • Facebook went online in February of 2004

  • Twitter launched in January 2006

  • The first iPhone was released in 2007

  • With $550,000.00 in venture capital for its creation, 500px.com launched in 2009. By late November 2012, the site had more than 1.5 million users.

  • In 2014, Facebook reached 890 million daily users and yearly revenues of $12.47 billion

So what was once the domain of hobbyists and nerds building websites for fun has emerged a greatly expanded cyberspace dominated by big dollars and big-business. Quite simply, to compete for traffic in cyberspace today requires the resources that only big-business or the wealthy can afford. While the “mom and pop” NPN shop has suffered a huge downturn in activity due the emergence of big-buck sites with all of the latest technology and programmers at their disposal, we have managed to hang on to a core group of users who appreciate what we bring to the table: meaningful dialog and a nurturing atmosphere that is truly helpful for those who want to learn, share and discuss the art and technique of nature photography.

It would be easy to just let it all come to a quiet end and accept the premise that in the face of what is now available to photography enthusiasts, NPN is now nothing more than a relic of what the Internet once was. But since we have made such a tremendous collective effort over the last 15 years to build NPN into a well-respected nature photography resource (we’re still at the top of the search engine results for many nature photography phrases), since so many have learned so much from their participation on NPN, it would be an unimaginable disservice to all of those who have contributed to not keep the doors open.

For those who value honest and thoughtful critique instead of meaningless “great shot” comments, for those who value the warmth of small community instead of the cold and disinterested atmosphere of social media and mega-photo sites, for those who continue to make NPN their online home for nature photography – and for those new members who have yet to find us – we will keep doing what we always have and what the big-business/high-volume sites by their nature simply cannot: to provide a true sense of community where others are genuinely interested in helping you advance your nature photography skills with thoughtful, objective and courteous dialog. As many of us already know, from a learning perspective a single thoughtful critique on NPN trumps thousands of views and dozens of trivial comments on mega-photo/social media sites, every time!

To this end, we will continue to make improvements to the NPN site to foster our sense of community, improve its ease-of-use and to enhance the display of your photography. Not bound by any board of directors or venture capitalists looking for ROI, we can continue to secure our place on the ever-expanding Internet by sticking with what has always worked: to provide a quiet place where you can kick off your shoes, pull up a chair and enjoy heartfelt discussion with never-met-in-person friends, as well as some incredible nature photography.

As the cold winds of change continue to blow, so will our relentless dedication to encouraging and engaging our members, and cultivating their nature photography skills. We hope you look forward to the next 15 years of the NPN experience as much as we do!

Jim Erhardt - NPN 1

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Jim Erhardt is the founder of the Nature Photographers Network™ and the publisher of Nature Photographers Online Magazine. To this day he remains in awe of the incredible nature photography posted on the NPN website and is humbled to be your host. Jim and his wife Donna will continue to strive to provide the best online experience possible to all nature photography enthusiasts - this is why NPN was created and will always remain it's mission!


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