Remembering Phil Hodgkins

It is with a heavy heart that it is my sad duty to let you know that our Moderator of many years, Phil Hodgkins, passed away June 7. As some of you may have known, Phil’s wife passed away in January and subsequently Phil decided to move from his home in Savannah, Georgia to Valdez, Alaska to live with one of his four sons. In a fortuitous coincidence my wife Chrissy and I were planning a trip to Yellowstone at the exact time Phil anticipated going through there himself. We have conversed many times over the years by email, text and phone regarding NPN and general life issues but had never met in person. We were able to meet at the Madison Campground June 3 and spent the early morning June 4 shooting the Yellowstone Canyon together and with Mark Seaver later in the day. We parted company that evening as Phil wanted to get some rest and set off early the next morning for Helena, Montana. We noticed his campsite was empty the morning of June 5 and figured he was safely on his way.

Over the next week or so I didn’t attempt to make contact as we were travelling and I figured Phil was most likely in the wilds of Canada and probably out of touch. I did send an email or two but didn’t think much of it when he didn’t reply. I started to get a bit more concerned though when he didn’t respond to my texts and his phone went straight to voicemail. I remembered Phil had mentioned that on an earlier trip to Valdez he had gone out shooting with fellow NPN member Gary Minish. Gary responded to my email to him that he had been anticipating going shooting with Phil after his arrival in Valdez but had run into Phil’s son who informed Gary that Phil had passed away in Helena. I have since found out from Phil’s son Daniel that Phil had driven to Helena from Yellowstone and suffered a heart attack in his hotel room.

Communities like NPN allow us to make acquaintances and often strong friendships with folks all over the country and the world. My earliest memories of Phil were when he first started posting on NPN. He was a self described “Know it all” and a bit of a curmudgeon. To his credit he began to take criticism in the spirit it was offered as moderators and gallery participants encouraged him to expand and refine his talents. He became one of the early users of focus stacking and rapidly became an expert, patiently and thoroughly explaining his techniques to anyone who inquired. Phil’s crowning achievement was his selection as the 2014 Flora Editors Pick award winner, the image presented here. He came on board as a moderator shortly after and was a joy to work with. His passion for processing was complemented by my preference for single capture and I think it made us a strong team.

It was indeed my joy and privilege to have known Phil. He was a tremendous resource to NPN and a fine friend. I’m thankful that we got to meet in person and so sorry that our relationship has been cut short. David Kingham was able to put together a tribute to Phil that I hope you will view and enjoy. Phil will be sorely missed but fondly remembered. May he truly rest in peace. >=))>


I am really sorry to hear about Phil’s passing. He was a valued member, knowledgeable in Flora and what I consider a master of focus stacking. Surely he will be missed by many of us.

Thank you for sharing Bill, Phil will be sorely missed, he was truly a pillar of the community.

Sorry to hear that Bill. Must be quite jarring to meet someone then they’re just gone a few days later. Phil’s efforts on behalf of the NPN community will be missed.

So sorry to hear this. I never met Phil but felt like I knew if from all the years on NPN. He will be missed very much. Rest in peace Phil.

Bill, this was my earlier take on Phil as well. However, over time he seemed to mellow slightly and I felt good when he gave me his rare kudos on some of my images. Not so much for his praise at the time as much as I felt maybe he was enjoying things a bit more from the NPN experience in general.
With this all said it is with a heavy heart I read this sad update. Thank you Bill for passing along your personal experience and knowledge of Phil’s time here at NPN as well as your off line long term communications over the years.

Very, very sad news, Bill. There are people on NPN you feel you know even though you’ve never had the chance to meet - Phil was one of those. A wonderful photographer, a thoughtful and considerate moderator, he will indeed be greatly missed.

I too am truly sad to hear of Phil’s passing. When I received a good review from him my heart sang. He, his photos and advice will be missed.

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I’m so sorry to hear this. Phil’s photographic interests happened to mostly coincide with my own (flowers and birds) and I always enjoyed his work. I don’t know anyone who was better at focus stacking. More importantly, his comments were always extremely thoughtful and on point. I also enjoyed his sense of humor immensely. He is going to be sorely missed in this community.

Well that is truly some sad news, my thoughts and prayers to his family. Phil’s flora images were/are simply stunning, he set the standard that I’m sure we all strive to reach.

It was quite a shock to find out that Phil had passed a day or two after our meet up in Yellowstone. It was a treat to meet him in person after many years of interaction via NPN. His photographic talents as well as his quality comments will be sorely missed.

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I’m just so saddened to hear this. Phil was so understanding of my Photoshop deficiencies and provided detailed explanations of techniques. He will be missed. I’m glad you guys got to meet up with him in Yellowstone.

Thank you, Bill for this note and for the tribute to Phil. I had the opportunity to take Phil on a photo shoot here at Valdez, Alaska last year when he came up to visit his son. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with him and was looking forward to a second round when I got the news. I will try and find Alex and point him to the tribute (if he will be able to view it as a non-member).

Gary: I have contact information for Phil’s son Daniel and will be sending him a link. Non-members are able to see this thread.

Wow, two long time NPN’ers and great shooters this year. First, David Chauvin and now Phil. I didn’t have a lot of conversations with Phil since I didn’t post often in Flora but I still enjoyed his occasional foray into Landscapes and his thoughtful comments and serious attitude. He will be missed and fondly remembered.

So sad to hear this, Phil and his outstanding work will be missed. I never had the pleasure of meeting Phil in-person but his contributions as a NPN moderator kept us in-touch.

RIP Phil.

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