2016 Judges

Some of the Judges for Nature Visions 2016 are well known to our regional camera club members and some are new to judging our expo.  Here are the biographies of our judges for this year.

Ron Gaskins – Judge, Nature Exhibit

Ron Gaskins
For over forty years, Ron Gaskins has looked at the world through his camera’s viewfinder. For many years, he enjoyed photography as a hobby, shooting 35mm film. In 2008, he started his own business, West Virginia Fine Photography, and specialized in commercial photography. He has been on the 50-yard line during college football games, been to the top of a 100-foot fire truck ladder, been underwater with scuba divers, listened to folk singers preserving the songs of the past, and patrolled the river with law enforcement officers … all while preserving the moments with his camera.

Ron has been published in several magazines, including Wonderful West Virginia and Country Roads Journal. In addition to his photography, he has also authored several articles. His images have been used in advertising, feature magazine articles, websites, charity donor reports and more. His personal favorites are the ones that share the natural beauty of West Virginia. Ron carries his film experience into his digital photography, and works to capture the subject and scene in the shot when he takes it.

In 2010, Ron was selected as a “Resident Photographer” for the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and explored the trails of this beautiful area with his camera. In 2012, along with Amanda Haddox, Ron taught his first photography workshop at the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY. This led to an expanded series of workshops, and their joint workshop venture, Mountaineer Photo Excursions.

Together, they have led photo workshops in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia. In 2015, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park welcomed Ron as their “Artist in Residence”, where he photographed scenes and activities within the Park for two weeks.

In addition, Ron has a history with emergency services, having served as the official photographer for the Weirton Ambulance and Rescue Squad, and later with the Ripley Volunteer Fire Department. He has also photographed and/or taught forensic and emergency scene photography at training schools offered by the Weirton Heights Rescue School, the Sissonville Fire & Rescue School, and the Logan County Fire School.

He is a Member, past President and Secretary of the Charleston (WV) Camera Club, and has served as Conference Chairman for the past two years at the Club’s “Mountain State Photographers’ Conference.”

He is a Member and past Treasurer with the Jackson County Tripods Camera Club. Ron is also a Member of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia, the Professional Photographers of America, the Allied Artists of West Virginia, and NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association). Ron is an organizer with NANPA’s West Virginia Nature Photography Group.

Karen Messick – Judge, Nature Exhibit

Following a distinguished career as a senior manager in major retail stores, Karen Messick turned her hobby of photography into her full-time work. She quickly became recognized as both an outstanding photographer and photographic educator. In addition to her traditional photography, she has embraced the use of high dynamic range and plug-in software for creating artistic adaptations of her images. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and she has exhibited widely.

She is a frequent lecturer on composition, design, macro photography, photographic Impressionism and iPhone photography. Karen has written articles and had portfolio images published in iPhone Life magazine and Nature Photographer magazine. Currently she is a field contributor for Nature Photographer magazine and the iPhone Photography School. She has led workshops in locations across the United States and Europe and teaches in the Odyssey Program at Johns Hopkins University and at the Capital Photography Center in Washington, DC. Her iPhone stock images are available through the Aurora agency. She lives in Baltimore where, for four years, she served as president of the Baltimore Camera Club.


Gabby Salazar – Judge, Nature Exhibit

Gabby Salazar
Gabby Salazar is a nature photographer and environmental educator from North Carolina. After finishing her undergraduate studies at Brown University, Gabby received a Fulbright Scholarship to study photography in Peru. Through the Fulbright, she spent ten months photographing conservation efforts in the Amazon rainforest.

After returning from Peru, Gabby became the youngest ever President of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and a member of the Emerging League of the International League of Conservation Photographers. For the last three years, she has worked as a conservation photojournalist, documenting environmental issues in Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, and the Dominican Republic. In 2015, she spent five months on the island of Mauritius, where she produced a traveling photography exhibit about the country’s endangered species.

This fall, Gabby will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Conservation Science at Imperial College, London. Her work can be seen at www.gabbysalazar.com or on Instagram @gabbyrsalazar.

Amanda Haddox – Judge, Photo Arts

Amanda Haddox
In late 2003, when she purchased her first digital camera for a trip to England and Scotland, Amanda never imagined that it would completely change her life by igniting a passion for the art and craft of photography.

While she is originally from San Diego, California, Amanda now calls Charleston, West Virginia her home. An avid promoter of West Virginia State Parks, she wanted to showcase the beautiful state in which she lived and began submitting her photos to My Park Photos, a promotional website for State and National Parks. In 2005, one of her first submissions to the site was chosen as the Amateur Picture of the Year. The scholarship money awarded allowed Amanda to complete the New York Institute of Photography’s Course in Professional Photography.

Through her own In My Mind’s Eye photography business, Amanda has created some of the most striking landscape images from West Virginia and across the eastern United States.  In addition to her love for the scenery of the Mountain State, she enjoys photographing lighthouses along the east and west coasts, along with the Great Lakes.  Her work has appeared in magazines such as Shutterbug, Lighthouse Digest, and Pacific Standard, on West Virginia State Park brochures, and has been used in textbooks, as book covers and in local newspapers. 

Amanda is a member of the Professional Photographers of America, the Professional Photographers of West Virginia, the North American Nature Photography Association, the Allied Artists of West Virginia, and is a Member and past President and Vice President of the Charleston Camera Club. At the Club’s annual “Mountain State Photographers’ Conference,” Amanda has taught classes on black & white photography and the use of filters. She is also an instructor with Mountaineer Photo Excursions, which provides photography workshops in the eastern United States.

Amanda’s creativity not limited to the color world, but it also takes form in her love of black and white and infrared photography. “My camera is like every breath I take; it is something I cannot live without. My photography is where my dreams and my visions become a reality.”

Nikhil Bahl – Judge, Student Competition

Nikhil Bahl
Nikhil Bahl is a full time professional photographer, author, educator, workshop instructor and environmentalist residing in the Washington D.C. area. Drawing inspiration from nature, Nikhil adopts novel approaches and seeks meaningful interpretations: to create photographs that transcend the commonplace, reflect deeper insights, and convey an enchantment of the subject’s beauty.

An offshoot of Nikhil’s fine art photography and love of nature is his documentation of wildlife behaviors and habitats. As a volunteer with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, his goal is to portray environmental stories with an artistic appeal, so his photographs educate and motivate about the imperative of conservation.

Each year Nikhil leads several photography tours and instructional workshops in the United States and abroad. His teaching encourages participants to advance beyond ordinary photos and develop their own style and vision. Nikhil is a regular speaker at photography clubs, expos and industry events. He authored the acclaimed eBook, Creative Interpretations and writes articles on the creative and technical aspects of photography.

Nikhil’s work has been published in a number of print and electronic media and his fine art prints have been widely exhibited in the Washington metropolitan area, and are part of many private collections. You can view his work at www.nikhilbahl.com.