Get the Picture at the Nature Visions Photo Expo

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By Delia Engstrom

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s a lot to be said about the annual Nature Visions Photo Expo (NVPE).

Every November, attendees are able to focus on all things photography related during this popular three-day educational seminar. Held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, the concept for NVPE began almost 15 years ago when local camera clubs joined together to share their passion for photography with one another. Their mission centered on increasing exposure of their work, encouraging participation in photography among varying skill levels and hopefully growing community appreciation of all types of photography.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center will again host this year’s expo.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center will again host this year’s expo.

Now sponsored by seven area clubs (the Manassas-Warrenton Photo Club, Northern Virginia Photographic Society, McLean Photo Club, NIH Camera Club, Reston Photographic Society, Vienna Photographic Society, and the North Bethesda Camera Club), Nature Visions has continued to grow year after year. NVPE President Tom Shevock estimates that nearly 2,000 people visited NVPE last year, and they anticipate even more in 2016. Registration to attend the expo, held Nov. 18-20, is free, but required.

Registration grants attendees access to several free beginner classes as well as to the vendor hall with the latest and greatest in gear and to the centerpiece of the expo, the juried photo exhibits. There is a charge for workshops which also grants the attendee access to the vendor hall. Nearly 500 photographs taken by participating club members are on display, and with most images for sale. It’s a fantastic opportunity to support a local photographer, purchase gifts for birthdays or the holidays and add some art to your home or office.

Widely known as the “Best Value in Photography Education,” NVPE 2016 will offer 35 affordable educational opportunities for beginner to advanced photographers. This year’s expo will kick off Friday morning with a full-day seminar entitled “Mastering Travel Photography.” Award-winning freelance photographer Bob Krist will share the wealth of knowledge he has gained as his work brought him to more than 140 countries on all seven continents. Krist is currently a contributing photographer and editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine and will discuss topics such as “5 Common Problems in Travel Photography” and “Making the Most of Your OnCamera Flash.”

Photographers looking to get up-close and personal with nature at NVPE have several opportunities. Seminars on bird photography are offered, featuring owls from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, as well as a first time chance at “frog-tog-graphy.” Instructors at both of these hands-on workshops offer tools, tips and tricks to aid participants in capturing their very own award-winning avian or amphibian images.

Last year Bill Millhouser, a member of Northern Virginia Photographic Society, won the juried exhibit’s Best in Show award for his image of a shorebird entitled “Teeter Totter.” Millhouser joined NVPS in 2012 and recently remarked that although he has been a photographer for over 40 years, he has “learned even more from the extremely knowledgeable and helpful members of this club of over 200 photographers.” He became more interested and involved in photography with the coming of the digital age in the early 2000s.

When Nature Visions Photo Expo originally formed in the early 2000s, film cameras were still widely used, and digital cameras were just becoming available for non-professionals. The last 15 years have seen a huge increase in the availability and affordability of cameras, giving everyone a proverbial shot at photography. Continuing to adapt to the technological advances and the interests of the public through the years, NVPE will now offer classes on using your smartphone to capture stunning images (and they don’t mean selfies!) as well as on dronography, the art of using unmanned vehicles to produce beautiful aerial photos that were previously unobtainable.

Hoping to continue their mission of encouraging participation, NVPE welcomes high schoolers across the region to share their images by entering the Nature Visions Student Photography Contest sponsored by Road Runner Photography Tours.

Finalists have their work on display at the expo, including Jaebin Cha, a recent high school graduate who now attends VCU School of the Arts and hopes to major in photography. Along with the other 10 finalists, Jaebin will be present for the awards ceremony where one lucky winner will receive $300 and an expense-paid photography trip for two with Road Runner.

After the student winner is announced Saturday afternoon, noted landscape photographer Tom Till will take the stage to deliver the expo’s keynote address “Photographing the American Southwest.” Possessing one of the largest collection of images of that region of our country, Till has received awards from Arizona Highways magazine and The Nature Conservancy and will share his expertise during this two-hour presentation.

NVPE comes to a close for 2016 with Julieanne Kost delivering the last of her three scheduled lectures on photo processing. Kost is the principal digital imaging evangelist with Adobe Systems Inc. and will guide photographers through using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to make the most of their images.

No matter your experience level or amount of lenses in your camera bag, Nature Visions Photo Expo is a great place to grow as a photographer. See what develops at the Hylton Performing Arts Center located at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas VA 20110. For a complete expo schedule, visit Be sure to register online before tickets are gone in a flash. Also, get NVPE 2016 updates on Facebook at and @NatureVisionsPE on Twitter.

Delia Engstrom (, a writer and photographer, enjoys boring her husband and two kids with slide shows from her childhood when not documenting their lives with her digital camera.


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