Audubon Photography Awards

Meet the 2023 Judges

Your work will be evaluated by an expert panel of bird photographers, videographers and experts.

Judges Bios

Amateur, Professional, Youth, Grand, and Fisher Prizes:

  • Sabine Meyer, photography director, National Audubon Society
  • Preeti Desai, senior director of social media & storytelling, National Audubon Society
  • Melissa Hafting,  conservation photographer and youth nature educator
  • Morgan Heim, conservation photographer, filmmaker and adventurer
  • Noppadol Paothong, nature/conservation photographer
  • Marlene Pantin,  partnerships manager, plants for birds, National Audubon Society

Video Prize:

  • Mike Fernandez, video producer, National Audubon Society
  • Rina Miele, wildlife photographer and videographer
  • Mick Thompson, wildlife photographer and videographer

Female Bird Prize:

  • Karine Aigner, conservation photographer
  • Founders of the Galbatross Project: Brooke Bateman, Stephanie Beilke, Martha Harbison, Purbita Saha, Joanna Wu

Sabine Meyer

Sabine Meyer (she/her) is the photography director for the National Audubon Society. She has worked for a range of publications and organizations, including National Geographic Adventure, Condé Nast Traveler, New York Magazine, TIME, U.N. Population Fund, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and AARP Media. Sabine is an affiliate with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and served on the faculty at the School of the International Center of Photography, where she taught photo editing for more than a decade. She also spent seven years as the co-director and curator of Fovea Exhibitions, a Beacon, New York–based nonprofit advocating visual literacy through photojournalism and documentary photography. She mentors and reviews photo portfolios regularly and currently volunteers for the Newburgh Community Photo Project.

Preeti Desai 

Preeti Desai (she/her) has always had a passion for nature and wildlife but found her way specifically to birds after joining the National Audubon Society, where she is the senior director of social media & storytelling. In this role, she strategically employs photography and videography to inspire and motivate people to take action to protect birds and the places they need. She has been fortunate to travel to several birding hotspots for Audubon to communicate this message, including Nebraska's Rowe Sanctuary, Florida's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Preeti's love of photography developed while growing up in New Jersey, which, despite stereotypes, is full of great places to get outdoors. She is on the board of Wild Bird Research Group, a New Jersey based nonprofit that is dedicated to conducting science, building knowledge, and fostering appreciation for the conservation of wild birds. Preeti's work has been published by Audubon, Hemispheres, and Time, among others.

Melissa Hafting 

Birder and photographer Melissa Hafting (she/her) is based in wildlife-rich Vancouver, British Columbia. She is passionate about the importance of wildlife photography ethics. Melissa shares photos of all types of birds and through Instagram stories shares conservation updates and other news.  She also runs the BC Rare Bird Alert and is the founder of the BC Young Birders Program, which aims to bring together youth of all races, sexual orientations, and genders for fun excursions into the natural world. Melissa is an eBird reviewer for the province and loves to travel around the world looking at birds.

Morgan Heim

Morgan (Mo) Heim (she/her) is a conservation photographer, filmmaker, and adventurer focusing on the ways human-influenced environmental changes impact wildlife. With a background in science and journalism, her goal is to find the beauty, humor, and perseverance in stories about wildlife, and how those stories teach us about who we are and who we might become. Morgan is a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a mentor for Girls Who Click, and founder of Neon Raven Story Labs, a storytelling and strategy platform for conservation. In 2020 she co-launched Her Wild Vision Initiative aimed at raising the voices of diverse women in the craft of conservation visual storytelling. Her work appears in outlets such as Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Newsweek, and The New York Times.

Rina Miele

Rina Miele (she/her) is a photographer and videographer based in New York. She loves all aspects of making an image, though when she became fascinated with birds, things escalated quickly. All the gear. All the best ways to capture them. And when photography wasn’t enough, she started leaning hard into video, which brought a new dimension to her work. Video encourages people to see something they haven’t seen before: The bird and the situation inform how the story is told, versus simply shooting a bird in a specific visual style. Rina applied this way of thinking from her experience navigating the design world. When she’s not behind the camera, she is a creative director and designer, specializing in developing multifaceted experiences for brands, big and small.

Noppadol Paothong

Noppadol Paothong (he/him)  is an award-winning nature and conservation photographer and a staff photographer with the Missouri Department of Conservation. His focus has been rare and endangered species, primarily grassland grouse and their fragile habitat. Those efforts resulted in two large-format books, Save the Last Dance: A Story of North American Grassland Grouse and Sage Grouse: Icon of the West. An associate fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), Noppadol has been honored as Missouri Photojournalist of the Year and in contests held by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, National Wildlife, Nature’s Best, and the Audubon Photography Awards. His images regularly appear in agency publications, including Missouri Conservationist and Xplor, and in national magazines, such as Audubon, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, and Sierra. Noppadol shares his work and passion through programs and presentations across the country, and he hopes that these will help people connect, at a personal and emotional level, with nature and the conservation issues that he deeply cares about.

Marlene Pantin

The partnerships manager for Audubon’s Plants for Birds program, Marlene Pantin  (she/her) brings an interdisciplinary background to Bird Friendly Communities with broad experience in behavioral health, applied research, planning, and policy. Her work focuses on utilizing advocacy, municipal engagement, and strategic partnerships to advance native plant use in local communities and across municipalities as a means of expanding Audubon’s conservation efforts to protect birds. Marlene is the founder and executive director of Red Hook Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving parks and recreational spaces in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and is the co-founder of Brooklyn Parks and Open Space Coalition, which advocates for greater investment in parks and open spaces in the borough of Brooklyn. Marlene and the organizations she founded have been recipients of several leadership and service awards.

Mike Fernandez

Mike Fernandez (he/him) is the video producer for the National Audubon Society. He was born in Lima, Peru, and completed his studies in documentary practice and photojournalism at the International Center of Photography. Mike is committed to addressing the diversity gap—principally, a lack of people of color and young people in the environmental field and conservation movement. His work has been featured in New York Magazine, The New York Times, Aperture Gallery, Univision, De Standaard (Belgium), FronteraD (Spain), and Audubon, and he has produced video projects for David Yurman, the New York Theatre Workshop, HERE Arts Center, and others.

Mick Thompson

Mick Thompson (he/him) has been an amateur bird photographer for more than 35 years. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada creating a portfolio of over 3,000 photos and videos that are used regularly by Audubon and its affiliated chapters. He is also a contributing photographer for BirdNote and his photos have been used by ABC News, NPR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, BBC Earth, and many nonprofit organizations. As a volunteer at Eastside Audubon in the suburbs of Seattle, he served for ten years as chapter photographer, providing all their photography needs. A retired Information Technology professional, Mick splits the year between Redmond, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Karine Aigner

Karine Aigner (she/her) is a photographer whose visual stories explore the relationship between wildlife and the humans who live amongst it. Before going freelance in 2011, Karine spent just under a decade as the senior picture editor for National Geographic Kids magazine. Growing up overseas inspired a life of adventure and travel: Karine leads photo safaris all over the world and teaches workshops, connecting people to the natural environment and using the camera as a tool to teach awareness and conservation. Karine is an associate fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), a member of The Photo Society, and a mentor with Girls Who Click. She is also a contributing photographer to National Geographic, and her work has been found in Nature Conservancy magazine, WWF, and BBC Wildlife, to name a few.  Karine is the fifth woman in 58 years to win Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022.

Founders of the Galbatross Project

The founders of the Galbatross Project are a group of scientists, birders, writers, and conservationists who are connected through the National Audubon Society. They first came together as “The Galbatrosses” to count feathered females at the 2019 World Series of Birding. Because the pandemic made it impossible for the team to convene for another World Series, in May 2020 they established #FemaleBirdDay to share the love of female birds with the rest of their diverse community via social media. The Galbatrosses include Brooke Bateman (she/her), Audubon’s director of climate science; Stephanie Beilke (she/her), senior manager, conservation science for Audubon Great Lakes; Martha Harbison (they/them), senior network content editor for Audubon; Purbita Saha (she/her), a former Audubon editor and a member of Bergen County Audubon Society; and Joanna Wu (she/her), PhD student at UCLA. Through the Galbatross Project they hope to create an engaging way for everyone to get to know some of the most overlooked birds on the planet.