Funny Photos and My Winning Shots in the Comedy Wildlife Awards

A series of four photos of an elephant rolling around in and getting up from a bath in the mud. “Joy of a Mudbath,” Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe. 2021 Comedy Wildlife – Portfolio Award, © Vicki Jauron
“Joy of a Mudbath,” Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe. 2021 Comedy Wildlife – Portfolio Award, © Vicki Jauron

By Vicki Jauron

Back in 2019 a friend sent me a link to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.  “You have some pretty funny stuff,” she said, “You should really enter this contest.”  At that point I had only started submitting images in a few competitions with no success, and was still trying to get over my intrinsic fear of the whole process.   What I liked about the Comedy Wildlife Photography competition is that it seemed a little less daunting and scary, and it was also a little more obvious what they wanted – an image that makes you laugh, right? 

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Cherry Kearton: Hunting Wildlife with a Camera

Screenshot of the Guardian article showing Kearton carrying the hollow, taxidermied ox.
Screenshot of the Guardian article showing Kearton carrying the hollow, taxidermied ox.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

When we think of early nature photographers, we might think of images made in the 19th century by Carleton Watkins, whose photos of Yosemite sparked interest in western landscapes, or William Henry Jackson, whose photos of Yellowstone were instrumental in establishing the first national park. Or maybe you think of George Shiras III, who took the first wildlife photos published by National Geographic magazine back in 1906. You probably don’t think of Cherry Kearton (1871 – 1940), but you should. He was the David Attenborough of his time. In fact, he inspired Attenborough when David was all of eight years old. This week, the Royal Geographical Society in London is hosting an exhibit, With Nature and a Camera, showing 37 photos of lions, rhinos and other wildlife recently found in a desk by Kearton’s great-granddaughter.

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Eight Reasons to Go on a NANPA Regional Event

A young black bear eating berries © Dana Foley
A young black bear eating berries © Dana Foley

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

A NANPA Regional Field Event is a three or four-day nature photography workshop, held in a highly photogenic location and led by experienced photographers who are intimately familiar with the area. OK, great. But what sets a Regional Event apart from a sea of other workshops? And what do I need to know to take full advantage of all the opportunities at a Regional Event? We asked the leaders and attendees of the recent Grand Teton Regional Event. They came up with eight reasons to go on a Regional Event and a few tips to prepare.

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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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