The EPS Story
by Jay Paredes

In 2006, the digital SLR camera revolution was in full swing. Photographers, new and old, met at favorite locations to share their methods. One such place was the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida. Each weekend, nature photographers would gather at this unique location to photograph the local wildlife.

Three of those photographers, Chuck Hersh, Fred Kenney, and Jay Paredes came up with a simple idea: Gather the best nature photographers in South Florida, conduct monthly meetings to share ideas and techniques among ourselves, and then share those techniques with the rest of the world. Each photographer would contribute tips from his areas of expertise, including the camera itself and the post processing software. We would end up with a series of best practices that other photographers could follow.

As we explained this concept to other photographers, the idea took shape and in the late summer of 2006, the first meeting was convened at the Marsh Trail Parking Lot of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. In attendance were what would later form the core group of the Everglades Photographic Society, including Chuck, Fred, Jay, Jake Paredes, John Cornell, Joanne Williams, Jeff Schulman, and Michael Wolf.

From the beginning, the groupís success came from each memberís contributions. We quickly added new members Hugh McLaughlin and Judy Lynn Malloch to broaden our collective base of skills and techniques.

After many successful meetings, the time came to give back to the community of nature photographers that seemed to grow in number daily. Our web site and forums were launched in 2007, primarily to cover news and local happenings related to nature photography in South Florida. This was soon expanded to incorporate articles on photography techniques, post processing, and travel.

In 2009, the Everglades Photographic Society continues to grow its membership and is now ready to launch its third act, which is giving back to the community at large. We are working with conservation groups such as the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and the Friends of Loxahatchee to promote photography as a means to raise awareness for preserving and restoring the unique Everglades ecosystem.

So what is EPS all about?

Our Mission is to promote conservation, education, and restoration of wildlife and wild places by encouraging people to experience nature through photography.

Itís simple, really. The advent of the digital camera has spurred a huge revival in photography as a hobby. Many new photographers are inspired by the wonderful images that they have seen of the natural world and would like to try to create similar images. However, it takes more than just a camera to truly represent natureís beauty. You have to have a certain amount of determination and, most of all, an understanding of the environment itself, in order to capture it in a photograph. Thatís what EPS is all about. EPS strives to help and encourage the budding nature photographer to look beyond just taking images and to help preserve the environments that make taking these inspirational photographs possible.

We accomplish our mission in several ways.

First, collectively EPS members hold a large volume of nature and wildlife images that are available for use by conservation organizations and educational institutions. Many of these images are often made available at no cost to non-profit organizations whose mission is conservation or education.

Second we encourage photographers to improve their techniques through informative articles on our web site and by offering to answer questions about photography and the environment on our flickr discussion group.

Third, we build relationships with conservation organizations to assist them with their photography needs, provide photography workshops, and volunteer our time and services to benefit education and conservation.

Fourth, we work with local libraries and galleries to display photographs of the natural world in order to attract people to nature photography and inspire them to learn more about our fragile environments.

How do I join EPS as a member?

The easiest way to become a member of the EPS general community is by joining and participating in our flickr discussion group and to post your images in our flickr group pool.

If you are interested in becoming a contributing memberÖ

EPS contributing members are compromised of highly motivated individuals, willing to give their time and effort to promote nature photography and conservation. Each contributing member is assigned tasks and duties that support EPS and its mission. In order to keep EPS focused on its mission and core values, we have kept contributing membership to a small amount of people. As such, when EPS looks to expand its contributing membership, we usually do so to fill specific positions. The way to be considered for these openings is to participate in our flickr discussion pool, write guest articles for the EPS web site, and to volunteer your time and expertise. Keep eyes out on our flickr discussion boards calling for volunteer opportunities and describing open positions, along with information on how to apply for them.

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