Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a white pelican floating on water with an empty can of Miller High Life beer in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremey Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Editor’s note: Profiles of Showcase Top 24 photographers, along with their how-I-got-the-shot stories, are typically published on this blog between January and June of each year. But 2021 continues to be anything but typical, and Jeremy Burnham’s 2021 Showcase Judges’ Choice winning image was unexpectedly delayed. We’re thrilled to share his story with you today and will seize the occasion to remind readers that a profile like this on NANPA’s blog is one of the publicity benefits offered to Showcase Top 24 winners. It’s one of many reasons you might want to enter the 2022 Showcase competition. Entries are accepted through 11 p.m. on September 20, 2021. Learn all about it on the Showcase page.

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

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Least Tern Courtship: How I Got the Shot

Photo of two birds on a beach. One is standing on the back of the other and offering a fish to the one on the bottom. Least Tern Courtship © Rajan Desai
Least Tern Courtship © Rajan Desai

By Rajan Desai

Editor’s note: Massachusetts-based photographer Rajan Desai is a frequent contributor to the NANPA Facebook Group but it’s not often he gets the kind of reaction he saw after posting “Least Tern Courtship.” That photo reached more than 3,500 people, generated 563 engagements, and inspired 44 comments, including “Beautiful photo. It’s like an image of ballet. I can hear the music in my head.” and “Fabulous capture!! I like your explanation of the courtship rituals also. So well done!” His detailed caption explained the birds’ behavior, but what else made the photo so compelling? We asked Desai to tell us about how he got the shot.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a pelican floating in the water with a beer can in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Savannah Rose Burgess

Artist’s statement

“Cougar Country,” Photo of a mountain lion leaping down a snow-covered cliff chasing magpies off her kill, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Savannah Rose Wildlife
“Cougar Country,” A mountain lion leaps down a cliff chasing magpies off her kill, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Savannah Rose Wildlife

This experience was one of the most incredible spectacles of nature I have ever witnessed, in some ways fulfilling dreams I have had since I was a child. I have always been fascinated by the mystique of big cats—the more elusive the better. Some of my earliest artistic memories are drawing big cats out of the well-worn photography books I adored, which gave me my initial interest in pursuing wildlife photography. After what had been a slow winter for wildlife sightings, this mountain lion was such a gift to me as she spent about a week of her life in Jackson Hole, feeding on a mule deer she killed during the night. It was of crucial importance to me when I arrived on scene to capture an action shot of this sleek creature as it was a situation I had dreamed of my entire life.

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The Web of Life

Closeup photo of a grizzly bear enjoying a salmon in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska. The bear has the salmon it its mouth and is in the river. © Jerry Ginsberg
Grizzly bear enjoying a salmon in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska. © Jerry Ginsberg

By Jerry Ginsberg

We humans take ourselves far too seriously. Out of habit, we allow the minutiae of our daily lives to block our ability to see the big picture. That picture is one in which our species is but one of a multitude of creatures eking out a living on the crust of this still molten rock hurtling through space. Like it or not; choose to admit it or not, we are all interrelated to some degree. As for how these ruminations connect me to my role as a nature photographer? Hang in there. I’ll get to that.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Lea Lee-Inoue

Photo of ground squirrel family. "You're All Grounded!", Apache Junction, Arizona, 2021 Showcase, First Runner-Up, Mammals © Lea Lee-Inoue
“You’re All Grounded!” Apache Junction, Arizona, 2021 Showcase, First Runner-Up, Mammals © Lea Lee-Inoue

Artist’s statement

As a photographer, there is a feeling you get in your gut, when you know you’ve got something special. I felt it with this shot.

This image was taken on Mother’s Day, an emerging round-tailed ground squirrel mom and her babies.  She exemplifies a great mom, ever watchful to their needs and alerting them of dangers. I have seen her run around nursing them, and at other times warning them of a snake, “whistling” loudly and furiously stomping her hind legs. It’s pretty incredible seeing her face a snake. She’s a tough lady. Yet she often has a smile on her face. Really!

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Alex Rose

"Startled California Sea Lion," Los Islotes, Baja California Sur, Mexico, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Mammals © Alex Rose
“Startled California Sea Lion,” Los Islotes, Baja California Sur, Mexico, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Mammals © Alex Rose

Artist’s statement

I enjoy creating animal portraits that exist within a whole ecosystem context. Unlike land photography where we have the luxury of spending hours patiently waiting with our telephoto lenses to capture tight shots of animals hundreds of feet away, photographing mammals underwater is a different beast. It’s close up, it’s unpredictable, it’s fast paced, and you’re shooting in what amounts to a hostile human environment that requires a life support system just to keep breathing. While challenging, these conditions also make it endlessly exciting and rewarding. The California sea lion colony of Los Islotes in the Sea of Cortez is an intensely fun place to make photos, and I was ecstatic to capture this moment in the life of one of the most charismatic marine mammals on our blue planet.

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Now Is the Time: Nature Photographers and Environmental Threats

Photo of a line of white pelicans working together as a feeding group in the artificial—but ecologically productive—channel of the San Diego River. © Budd Titlow
A line of white pelicans working together as a feeding group in the artificial—but ecologically productive—channel of the San Diego River. © Budd Titlow

Story and photos by Budd Titlow

In the entire history of human life on Earth, we have never faced two more broad-based and existential environmental threats than those posed by climate change and biodiversity loss. Right now—every day—the world is adding more atmospheric pollution, more destruction of habitat, and more threats to species, creating a metaphorical (and sometimes literal) enveloping shroud that may eventually doom our own species. On a geologic time scale, we are accelerating these processes at warp speed. A 2014 study in Science magazine reported that species were dying off at a rate 1,000 times faster than normal because of human activities. So, what’s the solution? I have some ideas but first it’s necessary to acknowledge and understand the problems, their urgency, and why nature photographers should care.

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Alaska’s Chilkat River Bald Eagle Preserve

Our National Symbol © Debbie McCulliss

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir

By Debbie McCulliss

The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is a world-famous, 48,000-acre area in which one of the world’s largest gatherings of bald eagles feast every fall on spawned-out chum salmon. As winter moves in, the eagles migrate into this open water reservoir in which the water temperature remains somewhat warmer than the surrounding waters. It is a place full of photographic opportunities and offers countless chances to make lifelong memories.

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Cute Raccoons Lead to Facebook Engagement

Photo of two baby raccoon faces in a tree.  © Keith Freeburn
Looks like the local raccoons had a recent litter of two little rascals. I love looking up at this nest and seeing curious little faces looking back at me. © Keith Freeburn

Interview with Keith Freeburn

Certain photos get tons of engagement on social media—likes, shares, comments. Others don’t. Why? What is it about these photographs that grabs viewers’ attention enough to comment or share? What can we learn from them? NANPA’s Facebook group has more than 20,000 members and dozens of posts each day. It’s an active community of nature photographers and people who enjoy great nature photography. This article is the first in a series in which we take a closer look at the most engaging photos from the group and see if we can tease out why they had such an impact.

Keith Freeburn posted his photo of two raccoons on September 13th and it was an immediate hit. To date, it’s garnered more than 1,300 likes, 109 comments and 191 shares. We asked Keith to tell us a little about himself and reflect on why this photo just took off.

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