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Trailblazer Award

Presented in honor of one’s accomplishments, stature, or length of service to nature photography

Nominations for the 2025 award are closed.
This award is given to a NANPA member in recognition of the excellence of  his/her nature photography—which is artistically creative and/or innovative in the use of cutting edge technology. The recipient’s body of work should encourage and inspire others in all aspects of nature photography (including workshop leaders, educators, speakers/presenters, and nature photography book authors). Additionally, within the nature photography industry, the recipient of this award should be breaking out—ahead of the pack—because of his/her trendsetting nature photography.



  1. NANPA member
  2. Photographer
  3. Considered to be breaking out, ahead of the pack, because of trend setting nature photography.
  4. Outstanding work which encourages and inspires other nature photographers

Selection criteria definitions

Personal vision

The nominee consistently:

  • Conducts him/herself in a professional and ethical manner; and
  • Demonstrates a commitment to achieving a positive impact upon nature photography, plus the education of the general public about nature

Quality of Work

The nominee’s photographic imagery is of exceedingly high quality and demonstrates the nominee’s mastery of the artistic and craftsmanship aspects of nature photography.

Impact of Work

The nominee’s photographic imagery encourages and inspires others, in the nature photography industry, to take positive, proactive steps to improve and advance their own nature photography.

Photo of Chris Linder holding a camera while wearing a parka, gloves, sunglasses and a hat, kneeling on snow.

Chris Linder received the 2023 Trailblazer Award. Photo credit: Mike Carlowicz

Past recipients

2023: Chris Linder
2021: Gabby Salazar (when known as the Emerging Photographer Award)
2019: Sebastian Kennerknecht (when known as the Emerging Photographer Award)
2017: Melissa Groo (when known as the Vision Award)
2015: Krista Schlyer (when known as the Vision Award)
2013: Sandesh Kadur (when known as the Vision Award)
2011: Jenny Ross (when known as the Vision Award)
2010: Ian McAllister (when known as the Vision Award)
2009: Christian Ziegler (when known as the Vision Award)
2008: Florian Schulz (when known as the Vision Award)

The NANPA Trailblazer Award has been presented biennially in odd-numbered years since 2011 to coincide with NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit.