Speaker Biographies:

Keynote Speaker, Charles Needle

Charles Needle is an award-winning, Colorado-based fine art photographer, author, speaker and workshop leader with a unique eye for design and artistic interpretation.  His popular “Art of Nature” creative macro workshops have attracted students nationwide.

A popular conference and camera club speaker for more than two decades, Charles has authored three cutting-edge instructional books: Tiny Worlds: Creative Macro Photography Skills, Impressionistic Photography: A Field Guide to Using Your Camera as a Paintbrush and Creative Macro Photography: Professional Tips & Techniques.

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 semi-finalist in the 2014 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards photo contest.  In 2011, Charles was selected as a finalist, among 15,000 entries worldwide, in the International Garden Photographer of the Year photography contest, sponsored by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London, England).

Charles is also an accomplished speaker, photography juror and teacher with international workshops in Monet’s Garden (Giverny, France for 20 years in a row, with exclusive private access).

Vinny Colucci

Presenter and award – winning photographer Vinny Colucci has been an active photographer since 1979 and a shooting professional since 1995. He has photographed North Carolina to the west coast and north to the Canadian Rockies. Along with his wife Annette, Vinny conducts nature and wildlife photography workshops throughout the year.

Vinny is an active outdoorsman and a member of Nikon’s Professional Services and Wimberley Professional Services and Singh-Ray Filter Ambassador & Technical Advisor. Vinny is represented by Picture Stock. His images have appeared in multiple publications, including Nature Photographer Magazine, New Bern Travel Magazine, Microwave Journal, and various other publications. He has also authored and co-authored multiple books.

His speaking engagements have included Popular Photography Magazine, as well as presented at Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), St. Augustine Photo & Birding Festival, Orlando Wetlands Festival, Crane Festival and multiple universities around the country.

Liron Gertsman, Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo & Video

You may have seen him on CBC’s “The National”, heard his voice on the radio, or seen his work in publications such Canadian Geographic magazine, The Guardian, GEO magazine, and others. Liron Gertsman has been photographing continuously since he first got his hands on a borrowed camera at the age of five. His work has been experienced by millions in some of the largest museums across the world, including the Natural History Museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Liron uses his photos to educate on the importance of preserving and protecting the natural world for the continued health and existence of all who live on our planet. As a naturalist and photographer, he feels it is his duty to show people the essence of Earth, by thinking outside the box to create eye-catching images that connect people with the environment. Liron’s work has been widely recognized and awarded, sweeping the youth category of the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards and earning a highly commended designation in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Liron currently studies biology at the University of British Columbia as he continues to build upon his passion and commitment to the environment.

John Gregor, Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo & Video

John Gregor has a Masters of Education through St. Scholastica College with an emphasis in photographic literacy. He earned his BA from the University of Minnesota with a degree through the University Without Walls program, his degree was entitled “Documentary Expression of American Culture Through Photography” a combined degree of Social Sciences and Fine Art Photography.

During his career Gregor has worked on some interesting projects and photographed for some great publications, they include: 2 years as the Official Track Photographer at Canterbury Downs Racetrack, a month-long photographic project in Africa documenting the first attempted kayak descent of the Blue Nile from Lake Victoria to Lake Albert, an on-going photography project on horse-mounted military musical bands remaining worldwide and has compiled the largest private collection of conservation photographs in Minnesota working for The Nature Conservancy and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Gregor currently spends his free time in Two Harbors Minnesota, Temple Maine, Bluff Utah, and touring throughout Mexico. He owns and operates ColdSnap Photography (www.coldsnapphotography.com) which offers photographic workshops and tours in Canada, United States, and Mexico.

Ray Hennessy, Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo & Video

Starting in 2007 my fascination with nature photography began. In the years since wildlife photography with a focus on birds has gone from a very passionate hobby of mine to become my career. I spend much of my free time in natural areas searching for birds and any other wildlife that comes along. I concentrate on using creative natural lighting and interesting compositions to capture unique images of common and rare wildlife. My favorite style is a more scenic photo that includes some of the habitat wildlife lives in. I also enjoy passing along the knowledge and experience that I have gathered over the years to other photographers who are eager to learn.

Jim Koepnick

Joe Koepnick is a Sigma Ambassador and independent digital journalist specializing in aviation, sports and travel photography. His current freelance clients include Sigma lenses, Plane and Pilot Magazine, Our Wisconsin Magazine, Ripon College, Old Glory Honor Flight and the Oshkosh Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Previously, Joe was Chief Photographer at the Experimental Aviation Association for 28 years. He was responsible for much of EAA’s air-to-air photography for its five publications. Joe has photographed over 1000 aircraft while on air-to-air missions and supplied over 550 cover images while at EAA.

Koepnick’s images have been printed in magazines such as Life, Time, Men’s Journal, People and Popular Mechanics. His advertising work includes Columbia Coffee, Sigma lenses, Canon cameras, and Cirrus aircraft.

His photographs have been consistent contest winners, including two Best of the Best photos in Aviation Week and Space Technology.

He received the George Hall Lifetime Achievement award from the International Society of Aviation Photographers.

Jackie Kramer

Jackie has been photographing the natural world, with an emphasis on birds and flowers, since high school in Sarasota, FL. She is known for her artistic flair and use of color in her floral images. Jackie is a KelbyOne instructor and a Lensbaby Ambassador. She has received numerous international awards for her photography and her work has appeared in various magazines and online publications. Jackie’s overarching goal is to use the medium of photography to enrich others and build relationships through her online group, Phlorography – Artistic Floral Photography.

Jim Lasala, Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo & Video

Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, and currently resides in Flemington, New Jersey. Specializing in Documentary and Fine Art Photography. As a Moab Master Photographer, Jim is part of a select group of artists connected by their unique visions and their love of reproducing their images on Moab fine art paper. Jim hosts seminars and workshops both domestically and internationally. He has a Masters in Photography and a Masters in Electronic Imaging as well as a Craftsman degree. He has received a variety of awards including Fuji Masterpiece, Kodak Elite, and Lexjet Elite Award. Jim’s life has changed since June 2010 when he began a humanitarian project of documenting the people and country of Haiti, a country with so little, yet so proud. You can find his work in publications such as International Street Photography and Reportage (ISP) (2020/2021), Loan Collection (22) International Publication, Professional Photographer Magazine Front Cover, PDN Magazine (2010, 2012, 2013), Lens Work (2014) Cover Image and Spread, and Silvershotz (2014) Spread

Mike Matthews

Mike’s passion for nature photography began over forty-five years ago and he has been shooting professionally for twenty years. His images have been published in numerous national publications like Birds and Blooms, Gulfshore Life, Bassmaster’s, and more. Many of his images have also been published by universities for articles relating to specific topics like human/wildlife interaction. Being an avid outdoorsman, his passion for photographing wildlife is ever present when he is in the field. Mike utilizes this skill to get very close to wildlife and captures stunning images that bring his audience along as if they were there with him. Mike is also a master falconer and has trained birds of prey for over forty years and offers bird of prey workshops in both Florida and in his home state of Kentucky. In addition, one of Mike’s favorite topics is Herpetology, (the study of reptiles and amphibians). This is an area that has led Mike to be one of the premier macro photographers in the U.S. He is best known for his macro photography workshops where he brings exotic reptiles and amphibians for participants to photograph. Mike also offers a variety of guided Nature Photography Tours, Birding Workshops, Floral workshops, and Extreme Macro. He has been a Keynote speaker throughout the USA on these topics. Mike’s hope is that you will enjoy his passion for photography, capturing nature in its truest form through inspirational images, giving God all the credit for enabling him to fulfill his dream.

Rinzi Ruiz, Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo & Video

Rinzi Ruiz is a Fujifilm X-Photographer / Global Ambassador and freelance photographer focused on weddings, events and portraits based in Los Angeles, California. He originally studied graphic design and computer animation at the Art Institute of Los Angeles but after 12 years in the design industry found a passion for photography and made the switch. He is known for his street photography with his focus on light and shadow and the human condition. Rinzi was a featured photographer in the LA Times Framework and has had various photographs featured in the LA Times SoCal Moments. He has also been featured in Light It Magazine, The Candid Frame Podcast, Inspired Eye Magazine, Art Photo Feature, Fotoflock by Epson and Backyard Opera. His work was exhibited at the Hatakeyama Gallery and The Think Tank Gallery. His work was published in Arte Fotográfica Magazine, Rangefinder Magazine and Eloquence International Creators Magazine. His rapid development as a photographer is informed from a commitment to make time for his art, as well as developing a critical eye for what works and what doesn’t. Inspired by both contemporary and master photographers, his understanding of the tradition of photography is helping him to develop a distinct voice.

Deborah Sandidge

Nikon Ambassador Deborah Sandidge is a professional photographer specializing in world travel and artistic imagery. As an author, educator and instructor, Deborah, expands the horizons of those who enjoy her photographic artistry. Deborah is well respected for her ability to blend the creative and the technical aspects of photography, giving the viewer a unique and fresh dimension illustrated in each subject she photographs. Through her photography, workshops, and seminars, Deborah encourages others to connect with the fascinating people, beautiful places, and diverse subjects that surround us.

Rob Sylvan

Rob Sylvan is a photographer, educator, and aspiring beekeeper. He is the author of many Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography related books, eBooks, and videos. His latest book is Lightroom Classic for Dummies. Rob also authors and curates tutorials found within the Photoshop and Lightroom applications, is an adjunct faculty at NHTI, a Canon Product Educator, regularly contributes to Photoshop User magazine, and teaches at photography industry conferences such as Adobe MAX, Photoshop World, PHOTOPLUS, and more.

Emilie Talpin, Sponsored by OM Digital

Emilie Talpin grew up in Chalon sur Saône, France, the birthplace of Nicéphore Niépce and the first photograph. Despite this background, she got into photography very late and in 2018 joined a local camera club where she met a group of talented photographers and was inspired to dive deeper into the art of capturing moments in time. Now, everywhere she goes, it is with her trusted camera by her side. Lately, she has been concentrating on wildlife and macro photography, in particular water drop refraction, but will occasionally stray with friends to an astro or landscape photoshoot. As a French teacher, she is inherently eager to learn and try new material; a practice also applied outside the classroom as she explores the world around her and chases her next photo.

Jonathan Thorpe, Sponsored by Tamron

Jonathan Thorpe is a North American photographer whose technical ability to light and direct a story rings true in the images he produces. His approach drums emotion yet maintains a level of verisimilitude in the form of his narrative portraiture. Since switching to photography in 2008 from a profession in optometry, Jonathan shoots full-time nationally and local to his home in Washington D.C. He is currently a Tamron Image Master, Westcott Top Pro, and Holdfast Gear Ambassador and is represented by Wonderful Machine in Philadelphia. Alongside his photography, Jonathan teaches and lectures around the world helping other photographers grow confident in their careers and forays into photography. When not shooting with clients, Jonathan enjoys building and riding his motorcycle, skating with his friends, and doing personal projects to keep his creativity sharp.

Shiv Verma

Shiv Verma, FPSA, MNEC is a published author, photographer, educator and technologist. He is a Panasonic Lumix Global Ambassador, Wacom Pro-Artist and an X-Rite Coloratti. He has been photographing for over 50 years and has evolved his photography to express his intense devotion to wildlife and nature. Over the years has earned numerous awards and recognition both nationally and internationally. Shiv devotes a great deal of his time formally reviewing photography related products, to education in digital photography and is a speaker and competition judge. He conducts photo tours and workshops worldwide and typically has one tour a month.

Shiv’s book Time-Lapse Imagery was published in February 2014.

He belongs to multiple photographic clubs and associations and serves as Vice President of the New England Camera Club Council. He is the immediate past Vice President of Learning and Technology of the Photographic Society of America. He is a member of the Professional Photographers Association of America; past Board Member, General Chairman of the PSA International and Chairman of Nature Division, PSA (Photographic Society of America). In addition, he is a member of the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA), Greater Lynn Photographic Association and the Massachusetts Camera Naturalists.

Shiv was honored as a Fellow of the Photographic Society of America in 2020, and as an Associate of the Photographic Society of America in 2013.  He was elected a Master Member of the New England Camera Club Council in 2008.

“My aim as a photographer is to arrest motion, the very life in our world and to express my interpretation of what I see around me. My photography is an exploration allowing me to engage more deeply with my subjects, the places and time where each image captured is a finite moment, externalized.”