2022 NANPA Showcase

Winning a photo contest can elevate a nature photographer’s credibility and visibility. But winning isn’t everything. 

Entering photo contests puts your images in front of audiences. Images can influence and affect people, change opinions, or make a difference. It isn’t unusual for participating photographers to be contacted about licensing their images for publication. 

Contests also allow you to see how your work measures up to others. They are an opportunity to learn what makes one image unique in a field of thousands, what moves viewers or resonates with them, and—perhaps frustratingly—that no two judges are completely alike. Contests are, in short, one way to publish your work. 

Participating in NANPA’s Showcase is also a way to use your images to support NANPA and help the organization attract and engage new nature photography enthusiasts. 

The entry period opens August 1, 2021, and closes at 11 pm EDT on September 20, 2021.

Showcase Competition Categories

NANPA’s Showcase recognizes images in six distinct categories:

  • Altered Reality: Includes images obviously displaying a change in natural color, form, shape, or any combination of these. Image must be enhanced or transformed beyond the way the subject appears in nature.
  • Birds: Includes all birds.
  • Conservation: Includes images that illustrate a conservation issue, either positive or negative, and the value of conserving a species, a place, an ecosystem, etc., for the benefit of wild and/or human communities.
  • Macro/Micro/All Other Wildlife: Includes images of non-bird, non-mammal wildlife as well as close-ups of any subject. Close-ups are intimate views, tightly framed, or close examinations of subjects in nature.
  • Mammals: Includes both land and sea mammals.
  • Scapes: Includes landscape, plantscape, seascape, atmosphere, weather, etc.

The conservation category is slightly different than other categories in the Showcase competition. Learn more >

Showcase Prize Packages

While it’s not all about winning, winning is admittedly one of the most exciting things we can imagine as photographers!

All images are judged, and $6,000 in prize money will be awarded along with recognition and publicity opportunities at three levels of achievement: Top 24, Top 100, and Top 250. 

TOP 24 WINNERS

The Top 24 is comprised of a Best in Show winner for each of the six categories, a First Runner-Up for each category, and two Judges’ Choice winners in each category. 

  • Best in Show for each category wins $350.
  • Runner-Up for each category wins $250.
  • Two Judges’ Choice winners for each category win $200.

Additional prizes for images in the Top 24 include:

  • Image shown during live announcement of Top 24 Showcase winners (date TBA in early November)
  • Image published with photographer credit and award ranking on new NANPA website
  • Photographer name and winning image included in public announcement of Top 24 winning images and referenced in additional announcements of Top 100 and Top 250 winning images to NANPA mailing list by the end of 2021 calendar year
  • Photographer name, hometown, and winning image included in a press release sent to major photography-related media and organizations
  • Image and photographer credit included in new, interactive digital version of Expressions
  • Photographer may be invited to provide video about his/her winning image for possible inclusion in new, interactive digital version of Expressions (specs, tips, and suggested speaking points will be provided by NANPA)
  • Image and photographer credit featured on Top 24 winners page of new NANPA website with bio and optional image portfolio
  • How-I-Got-the-Shot story and photographer featured on NANPA blog during the 2022 calendar year
  • Photographer invited to host a week-long takeover of NANPA Instagram account
  • Image published on one or more NANPA social media channels during the 2022 calendar year
  • Image with photographer credit shared during NANPA Summit
  • Image may potentially be included in NANPA promotional materials with photographer credit
  • Photographer encouraged to participate in online session on how to maximize recognition as a Showcase winner

TOP 100 WINNERS

Images designated as “Top 100” winners placed in the Top 100 photographs in competition but did not receive a Top 24 award. 

Prizes for images ranking in Top 100 include:

  • Image published with photographer credit on NANPA blog page announcing the Top 100 winners by end of 2021 calendar year
  • Image and photographer name included in public announcement of Top 100 winning images and referenced in additional announcement of Top 250 winning images to NANPA mailing list by the end of 2021 calendar year
  • Image and photographer credit included in new, interactive digital version of Expressions
  • Image with photographer credit published on one or more NANPA social media channels during the 2022 calendar year
  • Image with photographer credit shared during NANPA Summit
  • Image with photographer credit may be included in NANPA promotional materials with photographer credit
  • Photographer encouraged to participate in online session on how to maximize recognition as a Showcase winner

Top 250 Winners

Images designated as “Top 250” winners placed in the Top 250 photographs in competition but did not receive a Top 24 or Top 100 award. 

Prizes for images ranking in Top 250 include:

  • Image published with photographer credit on NANPA blog page announcing the Top 250 winners by end of 2021 calendar year
  • Image and photographer name included in public announcement of Top 250 winning images to NANPA mailing list by the end of 2021 calendar year
  • Image and photographer credit included in new, interactive digital version of Expressions
  • Image with photographer credit may be published on one or more NANPA social media channels during the 2022 calendar year
  • Image with photographer credit may be included in NANPA promotional materials with photographer credit
  • Photographer encouraged to participate in online session on how to maximize recognition as a Showcase winner

*Photographers with images ranking in the Top 24, Top 100, or Top 250 may opt-out of giving NANPA permission to use their winning image in future NANPA promotional materials by checking the appropriate box on the Showcase entry form.

Showcase Jury Panel

Darrell Gulin, Morgan Heim and Charles Needle will judge entries in the traditional five (5) Showcase categories (mammals, birds, scapes, altered reality, and macro/micro/all other wildlife). A separate panel of three judges with expertise in conservation photography will judge the conservation category entries: Clay Bolt, Alison M. Jones and Dave Showalter.

Darrell Gulin

Darrell has been photographing and marketing his work for over 33 years, 28 of those as a full-time nature/travel photographer. He markets his work through stock agencies (GettyImages, Danita Delimont), editorial/paper product markets, along with photography workshops, tours, seminars, and speaking engagements.

Darrell is one of Canon’s Explorers of Light and also a past president of NANPA. His work has been published in Outdoor Photographer, Newsweek, Audubon, National Wildlife, Popular Photography, Our Daily Bread, most top nature wildlife calendars, and Nature’s Best—to name a few.

An accomplished speaker and teacher, Darrell leads workshops for Joe Van Os and has been featured on the TV program Canon Photo Safaris. He has traveled the world capturing special moments to share with others.


Morgan (Mo) Heim

Mo raises a camera for one purpose—to capture moments in an animal’s life that will make us consider what that life means. Inevitably, those stories involve people as much as wildlife. How we treat them. Why we need them. What we love or hate about them.

Mo used to work as a wildlife ecologist for NOAA on things like killer whale surveys and the Elwha Dam Removal project. She later earned a Master’s in environmental journalism and is a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). She has covered endangered fishing cats and shrimp farm development, and the environmental impacts of marijuana grows in our nation’s forests. In 2016, she became a National Geographic grantee for her collaboration on urban coyotes. Her work has appeared in outlets such as World Wildlife Fund, Smithsonian, Discover, NationalGeographic.com, Nature Conservancy Magazine, and bioGraphic.com. Her films have premiered at Banff Mountain Film, Telluride Mountain Film, Adventure Film, DC Environmental Film Fest, the International Wildlife Film Festival, and COP 23.

She is always looking to build relationships between viewers and the natural world and loves to foster new generations (regardless of age) who wish to do the same.


Charles Needle

Charles is an award-winning, Colorado-based fine art photographer, author, speaker, and workshop leader with a unique eye for design and artistic interpretation. His popular “Art of Nature” creative macro workshops have attracted students nationwide.

In 2018 and 2021, Charles earned honorable mentions in the Macro and Visual FX categories of the prestigious Annual International Mobile Photography Awards Contest. He was also a semi-finalist in the 2014 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards photo contest. In 2011, Charles was selected as a finalist, among 15,000 entries worldwide, in the International Garden Photographer of the Year photography contest, sponsored by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London, England). This exhibition traveled throughout the United Kingdom.

A popular conference and camera club speaker for more than two decades, Charles has authored three cutting-edge instructional books: Tiny Worlds: Creative Macro Photography Skills (Amherst Media, January 2015), Impressionistic Photography: A Field Guide to Using Your Camera as a Paintbrush (March 2014), and Creative Macro Photography: Professional Tips & Techniques (2011).

An accomplished speaker, photography juror and teacher with international workshops in Monet’s Garden (Giverny, France for 20 years in a row, with exclusive private access), Keukenhof Gardens (Holland) and The Butchart Gardens (Canada), Charles is a FujiFilm USA Talent Team member and NANPA Showcase Award winner for 14 years.

Charles’ photographs have been selected for publication in Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer, Nature Photographer, Inner Reflections Engagement Calendar, The Chicago Tribune, and SELF and are in private and public collections both nationwide and abroad.


Photo by Neil Losin

Clay Bolt

Clay is a natural history and conservation photographer specializing in the world’s smaller creatures who regularly partners with organizations such as the National Geographic Society and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Clay’s current major focus is on North American bumble bees. He was a leading voice in the fight to protect the rusty-patched bumble bee under the Endangered Species Act, which became North America’s first federally protected native bee in 2017. In 2019, Bolt became the first photographer to document a living Wallace’s Giant Bee—the world’s largest bee—as a part of a four person exploration team to rediscover the species in the Indonesian islands of North Maluku. After the rediscovery he worked closely with Indonesian authorities and TRAFFIC to prohibit online sales of the insect across all major online sales and social media sites, as well as measures to prohibit non-scientific collection of the species across Indonesia.

In his current role as Communications Lead for World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains Program, he develops communications strategies to fight grasslands biodiversity loss. Clay is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, Associate Fellow in the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), a past president of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and a member of the Livingston, Montana Parks and Trails Committee. 


Alison M. Jones

A conservation photographer since 1985, Alison has documented indigenous cultures, wildlife, ecosystems, and development projects in Africa, North and South America, and India.  In 2000 she helped establish Kenya’s Mara Conservancy, a model for 120 new African conservancies. In 2006 she studied watershed science at Columbia University and wrote a Management Plan for Ethiopia’s Nech Sar National Park. 

In 2007, after flying over 2,000 miles of African waterways, Alison founded No Water No Life.® For this global nonprofit that merges photography and science to highlight freshwater threats and solutions, Alison has led 70 documentary expeditions to Africa, North America, and India and has interviewed over 450 watershed scientists and stewards.


Photo by Marla Ofstad

Dave Showalter

Conservation photographer and author Dave Showalter is based in Colorado and focused on the American West. Dave has published two books—Sage Spirit: The American West at A Crossroads (Braided River, 2015) and Prairie Thunder (Skyline Press, 2007). Dave’s photographs and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Audubon, Conservation Biology, Outside, Outdoor Photographer, High Country News, Wilderness, Colorado Life and elsewhere. In partnership with Braided River, Dave’s exhibit “Colorado: Sage Spirit and Roaring Rivers” was displayed at Denver International Airport 2018-2019 and viewed by over 2 million people. Dave is a faculty member with the Summit Series of Photo Workshops, a Senior Fellow in the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), and works in partnership with numerous conservation groups, including Audubon Rockies, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Sierra Club of Wyoming.


Showcase Resources

For further information about Showcase, contact the Showcase Coordinator at showcase@nanpa.org.

Contest Secrets

Get more tips and contest insights—that apply to NANPA’s Showcase as well as other photo competitions—in our free handbook, Contest Secrets: What to know before you enter a photo.

Prize-winning photo by Karen Schuenemann plus a selection of pages from free handbook titled CONTEST SECRETS: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ENTER A PHOTO