Each year NANPA recruits a panel of outstanding judges to evaluate Showcase entries. If you’ve entered before, or read a copy of Expressions, you’ve seen the exceptional caliber of the judges. So, it should come as no surprise that this year we have another stellar group. Some are familiar names to NANPA members, others may not be. Regardless, they constitute a highly-qualified collection of experts in nature photography, as you’ll see from their bios.
Ellen Anon is an internationally acclaimed photographer, writer, and speaker who specializes in expressive photography. She’s coauthored nine books along with many articles and video training materials. Her sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract images are based on nature but hope to engage viewers and make them pause to appreciate the beauty that exists all over our planet. Photographers are unlikely to know (but can certainly understand) that once, while staying at a bed and breakfast in Tuscany, she woke up and saw a wonderful sunrise and ran outside in her nightgown to photograph it. Thankfully not many people were awake yet. Another hidden talent is, as she says, “the goldfish in our pond respond to me singing them a jingle and gather round (thinking I will feed them) and will come right up to my hand when I’m trying to clean the filter in the pond.”
What can you say about George Lepp? If you’ve been around nature photography for more than five minutes, you’ve heard his name. Among his many honors he received NANPA’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Las Vegas Nature Photography Summit. He’s most proud of his legacy of teaching photography to thousands of individuals, in classes, workshops and through his writing. “I’ve been Field Editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine for 34 years, with Canon Explorers of Light about the same amount of time, and a pro nature/wildlife photographer for more than 50 years,” he says. “That means I’m either old or very experienced. Loved every minute of it!”
Kevin Schafer is a professional natural history photographer, whose work has appeared in all of the most respected science and nature magazines around the world. He spent several years documenting threatened eco-regions around the world for the World Wildlife Fund and is a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. In 2007 he received NANPA’s Outstanding Nature Photographer of the Year Award, which shares shelf space with his many other awards. Kevin is also “obsessed with growing heirloom tomatoes — and with studying wild bumblebees of the Pacific Northwest.”
A second set of distinguished judges will be evaluating the conservation category of Showcase entries.
Helen Gilks is the owner and manager of Nature Picture Library, a specialist nature photo agency based in the United Kingdom. Earlier, Helen was manager of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition organized by BBC Wildlife magazine and the Natural History Museum, London. In addition, she says, “I have a Jack Russell dog called Trotsky, who can dance – for appropriate rewards. He sometimes goes to gigs with us and has even been photographed on the dance floor by Martin Parr,” a well-known British photojournalist and documentary photographer. Helen is an affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Douglas Gimesy is a conservation, wildlife and animal welfare photojournalist, with a focus on Australian issues. He is an Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and contributing photographer to National Geographic. Doug trained as a zoologist and later completed a Masters of Environment and then a Masters of Bioethics, the thesis for which was “Suspended Animation: ethical issues from the twilight zone.” Gimsey represented Australia in the Alpine downhill junior ski team and lived in Aspen, Colorado in 1979/80.
Michele Westmorland is passionate about conservation and proud to be a Senior Fellow of International League of Conservation Photographers, from which she received the 2016 Fellow of the Year Award. Her underwater and cultural photography has gained international recognition. “I spent the first half of my career life,” she says, “in real estate! Who would have thought, right? I was hired by Burger King for a corporate position and moved from Northern California to Miami. Had to give up my snow skiing but took up scuba diving. I’d always had an interest in photography, even before moving. I had my own little darkroom and enjoyed it so much that I decided to get an underwater camera after I was certified. I knew the ocean and photography were my calling but it took several years to develop my business plan so I didn’t have to read 100-page lease documents the rest of my life. That was almost 30 years ago!”