Ten Years of Photo Fest

by Kari Post | May 1, 2012

© Kari PostFlorida’s Birding and Photo Fest just wrapped up its tenth year. The festival, held annually in St. Augustine, Florida at the end of April, has grown widely popular over the years, and it is a wonderful event for photographers to meet one another, take classes from top pros, and learn from the best while shooting in some of Florida’s beautiful locations for nature and wildlife photography.

This year, the festival added some new locations and workshops, including field workshops based out of the Jacksonville Zoo and a sunrise shoot with horses on the beach. Missing from previous years were the captive raptor workshops and visits to the popular St. Augustine Alligator Farm, but a variety of new workshops filled in the spaces and allowed participants to expand their skill set and try new things.

Bridge and boat © Greg Downing

Speakers and workshop leaders included a number of NSN regulars, including publisher Greg Downing, birds forum moderator Maxis Gamez, and forum and article contributors Chas Glatzer, Tim Grey, Deb Sandidge, and Mike Moats. The keynote was delivered by Canon Explorer of Light George Lepp. Additional speakers and workshop leaders included regular Kevin Karlson and newcomers Vinny Colluci and Melissa Southern.

NatureScapes booth at Florida's Birding and Photo Fest © Kari Post

A wide number of exhibitors were on hand to enhance the visitor experience. NatureScapes.net had a large booth in the registration area and for the first time, Tara Woodfin, who manages our online store and is the queen of customer service, was on hand to meet customers and answer questions in person. Canon, Sigma, and Tamron were all on hand to demo and loan lenses and gear, and a couple of the speakers even got their hands on the new Canon 1DX to test for a day.

Pier © Kari Post

As an exhibitor and workshop leader, the days at the festival for me are long, but I always look forward to being here, and as Sunday rolled around and we packed up our unsold products to ship back, I felt a little bit sad. This year marked my fourth at the festival, and over the years, many of the speakers and attendees have become my friends. It is not uncommon for people to return to this wonderful event year after year, and it is often the only time of year I get to see their familiar faces. Every festival, I also meet for the first time people that I’ve chatted with for years, but never seen face to face, and wonderful people that I have never met before and probably would not have the opportunity to meet if it were not for Photo Fest.

Sunrise © Kari Post

For me, the festival has become more than just an exciting opportunity to learn from and mingle with the best photographers, create good images, and play with exciting new gear. It is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and build connections to new ones, to see and enjoy the company of the people I work with at NSN and to chat about ideas to make NatureScapes even better, and to get excited about my own photography and the work that others are doing. Photo Fest has become a chance for me to work hard while having fun, and afterwards go home with new skills and new ideas that will fuel me for the rest of the year until I come back again.

With the tenth Florida’s Birding and Photo Fest behind them, the event’s organizers have already begun to plan 2013, and it will no doubt be a great festival. I’m already looking forward to coming back, to seeing my old friends and making new ones. Maybe, hopefully, next year, you will be one of the people I see there.

About the Author

Kari is a self-described adventurer, photographer, outdoor enthusiast, conservationist, and nature lover. She loves being outside in nature, exploring the world around her, and doing just about anything that keeps her on the move. Kari picked up photography as a young girl and developed a serious passion for the still picture in high school. In college, she combined her photography hobby and love of nature and began photographing wildlife and outdoor subjects, which now make up the bulk of her work. Kari views photography as a way to share the beauty she sees in the natural world with others. She hopes her images can be used help educate and inspire others to appreciate, preserve, and protect wild places and creatures, and aspires to one day work as a photojournalist for National Geographic documenting conservation issues. Visit Kari's website at: www.karipost.com and her blog at: www.karipost.com/blog.

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