Top 26

Learn more about the 2023 Top 26 prize-winning photographers of the Showcase competition and their work. 
Each photographer’s winning photo is featured here with their website for more information. Their work will also be featured in the NANPA blog with “How I Got the Shot” stories.
See all of the Top 100 images
Photo of a bear clamming on the mudflats, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska © Belinda Bridwell

Belinda Bridwell

2023 Top 26 Showcase winner

2023 Top 26 Showcase competition winners

The Top 26 is comprised of a Best in Show winner for each of the six categories, a First Runner-Up for each category, and two Judges’ Choice winners in each category except Macro/Micro/All Other which has four.  Click each winning image or portfolios to view as a larger size.

Birds

Best in category

Scott Wolff

Bio

Headshot of Scott Wolff Photo credit: Beth Hall

I was fortunate to have had a father and uncle who got me outdoors at a very young age and fostered my appreciation for the natural world through canoeing, camping, hunting, and backpacking experiences. I am a recently retired M.D. (a biologist gone bad). High on my list of passions are conservation and wilderness experiences. I’ve been doing photography since I was a teen, jumping into the digital pool about 15 years ago.

First runner-up

Angela McCain

Bio

Angela McCain headshot. Photo credit: Larry Pullen

I am a rheumatologist and avian photographer who finds nature to be the perfect antidote for the challenges of medicine. The intense concentration required by photography blocks (almost) every rival thought. Originally, I was drawn to birds because they were a readily available subject when my time was limited. But their beauty and diversity captivated me and I came to respect the evolutionary solutions to their own unique challenges.

Judges’ choice

Kevin Lohman

Bio

Kevin Lohman headshot

Kevin Lohman is a nature photographer living in Santa Cruz, California. He makes wildlife and landscape images with Nikon and Sony mirrorless cameras, and edits them on a Mac computer using Adobe Lightroom. His educational background in marine science heavily influences his photography, and his career at a technology company has made him comfortable managing digital images. Lohman is a member of NANPA, and has had images recognized in various photo contests including previous NANPA Showcase competitions, Audubon Photography Awards, and he is currently a finalist in the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

Judges’ choice

David M. Young

Bio

Headshot of David M. Young

David M. Young is a New England-based photographer who thrives on finding and capturing the beauty of nature. Through his own personal journey, he has found how nature can nourish the spirit and renew a sense of connection to the world. By patiently observing and being fully present in the outdoors, one can discover unseen treasures and serendipitously encounter magical moments that can enrich and transform the soul. Young hopes that his photography can provide a glimpse of that beauty, and become an inspiration to seek out, appreciate, and protect the natural world.

Mammals

Best in category

Craig A. Elson

Bio

Craig A. Elson is an award-winning American photographer based in Los Angeles, California, who has traveled to more than 60 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean over the past 30 years. He is focused primarily on wildlife, landscape, and aerial photography and is happiest when shooting in golden light anywhere in Africa.

“I love photography because, for me, it is the perfect marriage of art and science, the creative and the technical – it forces me to use both sides of my brain while in the world’s most interesting, beautiful, and wild places to capture both fleeting and timeless moments. What could be more fun and more challenging at the same time for someone with a serious case of wanderlust?!”

First runner-up

Vicki Jauron

Bio

Vicki Jauron

Vicki is an award-winning wildlife and nature photographer currently living in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Her goal is to ignite a passion in others for enjoying and preserving our natural world and animal friends. Her images have won awards in leading international and national competitions and can be found in magazines, educational materials, advertisements and books. She is most proud to have images support major conservation efforts such as Remembering Wildlife, Prints for Wildlife and The New Big Five. She has also authored two children’s books to engage young readers in the need to protect shore birds.

Judges’ choice

Belinda Bridwell

Bio

Headshot of Belinda Bridwell

I have lived all of my life in East Tennessee. After retiring from a career in information technology, I took up photography. I tried many types of photography, but after a trip to Big Bend National Park in 2016, I discovered that photographing nature, especially birds, was my passion. My goal is to capture amazing experiences in nature and to share those experiences with others. By sharing this work, I hope others will connect with nature.

Judges’ choice

Corey Raffel

Bio

Corey Raffel headshot, photo credit: Kathy Raffel

I am an amateur wildlife photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. My favorite subjects for photographs are parrots in the wild. My interest in wildlife photography began in 2016 when I went on a trip is see parrots in the wild. One of the great things about looking for wild parrots is that you see lots of other animal subjects while looking for the birds, and I am quite content to photograph any animal that I see. Thus, I also spend lots of time looking for and taking photos of almost any wildlife. I am a neurosurgeon by profession. This means that I am very demanding of precision and am quite intolerant of sloppiness and errors. Thus, I really strive to take images that I call “scalpel sharp”, rather than “tack sharp”! Taking pictures of animal displaying typical behavior is a goal for much of my photography.

Scapes

Best in category

Ian S. Frazier

Bio

Headshot of Ian S. Frazier

Growing up on the East Coast I dreamed of the iconic landscapes of the West. This led me to move to California after college and explore immense photographic opportunities. Currently, I live in San Diego and am still passionate about documenting the beauty of the natural world.

First runner-up

Gero Heine

Bio

Gero Heine headshot, photo credit Natalie Wollmann

Originally from Germany, Gero Heine’s early experiences roaming the Black Forest and exploring the Alps and Dolomites sparked a lifelong passion for wilderness and wildlife. Upon moving to Santa Cruz as a high school student, Gero became an avid surfer, further connecting him to nature through frequent encounters with the abundant marine life of Monterey Bay. In the decades since, Gero has photographed all over the world. He is engaged in conservation efforts and has participated in a lion research project. For the past 16 years, his work is exhibited in art shows, festivals, and galleries across the Western U.S. Gero’s work has won numerous awards, including the Wildlife category of Nature’s Best Magazine’s prestigious Windland Smith Rice International Awards and a North American Nature Photography Association Top 10 Award (2011).

Judges’ choice

Don Larkin

Bio

Headshot of Don Larkin

I am a self-employed architect during the week and a nature photographer on the weekends. My wife and I live in the Seattle area where we enjoy hiking and photography in the Pacific Northwest. I first fell in love with nature photography as a student in architecture school where it made a creative escape from my studies. In the years since, experiencing the outdoors and photographing nature has remained an important part of my life. I strive to find art in all types of nature, from the elegant form of a bird in flight to the sculptural display of a wave. 

Judges’ choice

Ron Santini

Bio

Ron Santini Headshot

Ron has over 20 years of experience capturing the natural world of stunning landscapes, enchanted waterfalls, and wildlife in their natural environments. His training is a combination of both formal and informal classroom instruction, and in-the-field workshops where he has refined his photographic skills. This training has resulted in numerous local, regional, and national photographic awards.

Altered reality

Best in category

Thomas Yackley

Bio

Thomas Yackley Headshot

Award-winning photographer Thomas Yackley’s lifelong fascination with the printed image began when he joined his high school newspaper staff in 1973. He’s been shooting digital and developing with Photoshop since 1999. He is a member of Georgia Nature Photographers Association, Southeastern Photographic Society, and North American Nature Photographers Association. He has over thirty years high school music teaching experience and five years teaching photography. Digital photo painting, compositing, and photo encaustic are among his favorite techniques. The natural world is a major theme in his images. Besides shooting landscapes and wildlife, Yackley enjoys leading photo workshops and teaching photo classes through his website. Along with his wife, Robin, he is Co-Artistic Director of the Alpharetta Community Chorus and leads the Park Place Social Singers.

First runner-up

Lois Hild, DVM

Bio

Lois Hild Headshot

From the age of five when I started taking blurry pictures of wildlife (mostly squirrels and chipmunks with the occasional moose or bear) and as through the years our family traveled to most of the national parks in the western US, wildlife was always my favorite subject. My dad and I would process our film in the darkroom he had fashioned in our bathroom.

Undergraduate, veterinary school, and starting a family filled most of the time for a number of years. Then in 2011 I went on safari in Kenya and my passion was rekindled. I now travel to Kenya as often as possible where I have a small safari company. I really enjoy sharing my passion with my guests whether they are point and shoot novices or highly skilled photographers. I love wildlife photography for the places it takes me in nature, its role in conservation, and for its ability to engage both sides of my brain. 

Judges’ choice

Wendy Kaveney

Bio

Wendy Kaveney headshot. Photo credit: Michael Kaveney

I have always enjoyed photography and have been a professional photographer since 2002. I enjoy traveling, seeing new places with fresh eyes, and I am constantly seeking new perspectives through my camera lens. I am particularly drawn to wildlife and the natural world, enjoying the challenge and the photographic process to make the most unique images I can.

I currently live in Carmel, Indiana, and have been a member of NANPA since 2004. My images are represented in the Jaynes Gallery at The Danita Delimont Stock Photography Agency and have been published nationally and internationally.

Judges’ choice

Charles Needle

Bio

Charles Needle headshot

Charles Needle is an award-winning, Colorado-based, fine art nature photographer, author, speaker and workshop leader with a unique eye for design and artistic interpretation. He specializes in creative macro and Impressionistic photography and has more than 20 years of full-time teaching experience in the U.S. and abroad.

A popular conference and camera club speaker for more than two decades, Charles has authored three cutting-edge instructional books. In 2018 and 2021, Charles earned honorable mentions in the Macro and Visual FX categories of the prestigious Annual International Mobile Photography Awards Contest. He was also a semifinalist in the 2014 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards photo contest. A charter NANPA member, Charles has also been a Showcase Competition award winner for 15 years.

Conservation

Best in category

Elizabeth Yicheng Shen

Bio

Elizabeth Yicheng Shen (illustration)

I’ve always had a soft spot for all kinds of animals. Before getting into photography, I used to ask myself, for a super introvert like me, what else I could do for the animals? If animals and Mother Nature could talk, what would they say to us? What would they want us to know? The answer to my own quest came in 2019. I want to be the voice of the voiceless. Be their voice and tell their stories through my photography. Wildlife photography has been my passion since then. I’m an amateur wildlife photographer and a finance professional. I was born in Taiwan and live in California with my 5 rescued bunnies.

First runner-up

Jann Ledbetter

Bio

Jann Ledbetter Headshot

I am a passionate nature and wildlife photographer … with the emphasis on passionate! I love photography and have my camera in hand every day. Wildlife photography requires me to slow down, pay attention and be present, while being out in nature is always restorative. If I come home from an outing with a good photo, that’s a bonus. Whether exploring near my home on Whidbey Island in Washington, or traveling elsewhere, I am always on the lookout for “the presence of wonder.”

Retirement has given me the freedom to unleash my curiosity and delve into learning more about nature and conservation. I volunteer with several local organizations aligned with these interests and values.

I feel moved to share my nature and wildlife photos with the hope that they will inspire others to notice and appreciate the beauty around us and, in turn, to take good care of the Earth.

Judges’ choice

Brennon Hensley

Bio

Brennon Hensley Headshot

Brennon Hensley works as a wildlife photographer based in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He travels fulltime to reach remote areas of the outdoors in order to capture images of wildlife. He uses his background and expertise in wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary nursing to ethically capture photos of wildlife in their natural habitat. His focus in the field is to minimize his presence while monitoring the facial and body mannerisms of his subjects in order to capture their full essence and emotion. He hopes to bring awareness to the animals he photographs in a way that drives others to help conserve and protect not only the animals, but also the ecosystems which they call home.

Judges’ choice

Nicollet Overby

Bio

Nicollet Overby Headshot

I believe a picture can speak a thousand words, and I strive to use my camera as a voice for nature. The addition of a small zoom lens to my equipment in 2014 completely changed my life and expanded my world. Now, by focusing on my knowledge of ecology and animal behavior, I continue to capture unforgettable moments through a long lens, while allowing nature to continue undisturbed. My goal in photography has always been to inspire others to become more connected to nature and conserve our planet’s amazing biodiversity, by offering unique perspectives into the lives of all creatures.

Macro/micro/all other wildlife

Best in category

Mark Drawbridge

Bio

Mark Drawbridge Headshot. Photo credit: Jamie Drawbridge

I am a marine biologist who has worked for a non-profit research organization in San Diego for more than 30 years. My love of nature started early growing up in New England and spending time outdoors fishing and hiking. For me, the joy in nature photography is as much about the experience and the physical and mental benefits of being out in nature. I enjoy the challenge of capturing images that are unique and dramatic even if the subject matter is common. While images that fill the frame with the subject can be great, I often find myself photographing environmental portraits. Becoming truly proficient in photography and the digital darkroom will likely be an endless pursuit for me, especially as digital technology continues to evolve. This challenge, coupled with the endless creative opportunities that photography offers as an art form, makes it a wonderful and rewarding pursuit!

First runner-up

Jennifer Idol

Bio

Jennifer Idol in scuba gear. Photo credit: Aaron Bates

Jennifer Idol, an expert in diving, design, and photography, connects people to the natural world. She showcased local waters in her book, An American Immersion, a quest in which she became the first woman to dive 50 states. She’s published in DIVER, SCUBA Diving, and Alert Diver. She is also recognized as a PADI® Ambassadiver (2017 and 2018) and is an Explorer’s Club Fellow. Jennifer helps others experience wildlife encounters as an expedition leader for trips with Big Fish Expeditions that include whale sharks, sperm whales, humpback whales, and tiger sharks.

She’s also a core team member and experimental diver for Avelo and created the photography, videography, and all communications for this new dive system. The Avelo System is a revolutionary approach to scuba diving that consists of a Hydrotank and a Jetpack.

Judges’ choice

Alexandre Andes Gascon

Bio

Alexandre Andes Gascon Headshot

Alex is a macro photographer currently based in Miami, Florida. He has a multidisciplinary background in anthropology and entomology. As a photographer, his goal is to document invertebrate diversity and present insects in a charismatic way.

Judges’ choice

Karen Campbell

Bio

Karen Campbell Headshot. Photo credit: Gary Campbell

Karen Campbell combines her passions as a naturalist and macro photographer to capture nature interactions in her yard and protected habitats. She got serious about macro photography in 2009 with a goal of documenting bees that had discovered their 4-acre native plant restoration. With new discoveries through her lens, she expanded her goal to include pollinators and their relationships with plants. And then to all arthropods, plants, and fungi. She participates in community science projects, and her image catalog now includes several thousand species of plants and arthropods.

More recently, Karen transformed her photographic style to be more creative, providing better eye appeal to share our tiny wildlife and their environment for others to discover. She uses photojournalism to share the stories of her subjects in articles, blogs, and social media posts. Through this work, Karen hopes to encourage people to create and protect native habitat in their own yards and communities.

Judges’ choice

Dee Langevin

Bio

Dee Langevin Headshot

I am a retired analytical chemist with a passion for nature and wildlife photography. I became serious about photography when I retired in 2006 and have enjoyed traveling the world, capturing the beauty I find. I love being outside in nature, photographing anything from macro subjects to expansive landscapes. I am a PSA member with a GMPSA distinction and compete and judge in local and international competitions. I have exhibited in a number of museums and venues in the mid-Atlantic region and enjoy sharing my joy of photography through photo presentations around the US.

Judges’ choice

Luke Roman

Bio

Luke Roman Headshot

Luke Roman is a wildlife and conservation photographer based in Toronto, Ontario, with a passion for macro photography. Trained as a biologist, he is captivated by the ability to create larger than life images of the world’s smallest flora and fauna. His photographs seek to reveal the tangled web of interactions these species participate in and the human driven threats to their biodiversity. Current projects include working with native pollinators to demonstrate their integral roles in both ecology and agriculture.

Past winners

Learn more about past winners