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From the Archives: Why Do Photographers Enter NANPA’s Showcase Competition?

By September 4, 2020No Comments
Male Lion Attack on Giraffe, 2017 Showcase Judge’s Choice, Mammals © Michael Cohen

There are as many reasons to enter NANPA’s Showcase photo competition as there are photographers.  For some, winning Best in Show or Judge’s Choice serves as an endorsement of their skill, and can be added to their bio and marketing materials.  To others, recognition by the judges is a validation of their devotion to nature photography, a payoff for the years of effort they put into improving their skills.  And, for still others, selection of their photo is both a personal triumph as well as a challenge; applause for how far they’ve come and a challenge to continue getting better.

Long-time NANPA member Michael Cohen’s photos have been in the top 250 Showcase entries for several years and his “Male Lion Attack on Giraffe” was a Judge’s Choice selection in Mammals in 2017.

From the Editor: This article was originally published in 2018 but contains a little inspiration for getting up and going out to get that prize-winning photo. Be like Mike! You could be the winner of one of this year’s top prizes.

Cohen took photography as an elective in college and was hooked.  A busy career as a practicing attorney who was also a pilot included extensive travel and his photography time, though limited, was pretty diverse and wide ranging.

Now that he’s retired, he calls himself a “full-time hobbyist” nature and wildlife photographer and shoots or processes almost every day.  Living in south Florida, he photographs a lot of birds, but also has a van kitted out for travel photography.  Recently, he traveled to photograph wild horses and meteor showers.

Great Blue with Snake, Green Cay, Palm Beach County, Florida © Michael Cohen

He doesn’t monetize his photography or make a business of selling prints or teaching workshops.  However, he does, along with a colleague, teach a “Birds in Flight” workshop once a year, with all the proceeds going to a local wildlife refuge.  That’s been so successful that the two photographers are now the refuge’s biggest fundraisers!

Cohen was first attracted to NANPA for the insurance it offers, but also liked how its support for ethical nature photography and perseveration aligned with his own passions.  In addition, he found some of NANPA’s webinars valuable.

But he’s really enthusiastic about Showcase!  “I was super excited to get published in Expressions,” he told me.  “It meant a lot to have my skill recognized.”  It was where he was first published.  He’s since had photos published in other places, including in a NANPA ad in a photo magazine!  And his 2017 Judge’s Choice Award-winning photo was a finalist in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition of the Natural History Museum in London, England.

Now Cohen tries to “keep the ball rolling” and have something recognized in Expressions every year.  He looks at the Showcase competition as a way to keep his game up, providing motivation to continue learning and progressing as a photographer.  And seeing his images selected, he admits, does stroke the ego a bit.

When we talked to him, he was going through his recent photos, getting ready to submit them to Showcase.  Although the rules don’t limit you to only submitting current work, Cohen likes to keep his focus firmly on his recent work, so he can really compare where he is now, as a photographer, to the best in the business.

Those are some of the reasons why Michael Cohen enters Showcase every year.  What are your motivations?

Time’s getting short.  The entry window for NANPA’s 2021 Showcase photo competition closes on Monday, September 21st, at 11 PM, Eastern Time.  Best get moving on selecting your photos for the competition.  And Good Luck!  Maybe we’ll see your work in Expressions 2021 and profiled in NANPA’s blog next year.