Story and Photography By Carolyn Bowers

Whether they came to be inspired, educated or entertained, the 420 photographers who attended the three-day Carolinas Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) annual meeting in Myrtle Beach in February got what they came for.

Internationally known photography instructor and bestselling author Bryan Peterson challenged his audience to see the artistic possibilities in ordinary objects to create extraordinary images.

“You don’t find images, you create them,” Peterson said. “It’s all about the message and the emotional response to the message.”

Of course, it’s also all about mastering the fundamentals of photography and understanding the principles of graphic design, color, form and texture. Peterson took his audience through all of these in three slide presentations, with the knowledge of an experienced professional and the flair of a seasoned comedian.

As the name implies, CNPA is an organization of nature photographers from North Carolina and South Carolina. Since its inception in 1992, the membership has grown to more than 1,200 members within 10 regional groups. There is no CNPA chapter in Brunswick County, so many photographers from Wilmington to Calabash have joined the Myrtle Beach group, which was the host club for this year’s annual meeting, held at the Embassy Suites in Kingston Plantation, S.C.

The Members Gallery, featuring the winning images of the “Members Choice” award, was evidence of the degree of talent within the CNPA organization. The “Best of Show” award went to Paulette Thomas, who captured an alligator at the millisecond that it caught a blue crab in the air. The shot was taken at Huntington Beach, S.C., where Thomas said several alligators were scooping crabs up off the ocean floor, throwing them in the air and then catching, crunching and eating them. In addition to being a great photo, it gave the Myrtle Beach chapter the chance to show off one of the many attractions of living on the coast.

Other activities at the meeting included two additional presentations: Joe Brady on calibrating a monitor and printer, and Brenda Tharp on maximizing travel photo ops. There was also a tradeshow with big-name vendors selling their products at greatly reduced prices, and a swap table where members could buy and sell used equipment.

For more information about the CNPA organization, its meetings and field trips, you can visit their website at .
Or for details about the Myrtle Beach regional chapter, go to .