PPA National Award Recipient: Robert Norwood


by Kathy Norwood
M.Photog., Cr.Photog., CPP

The inscription on this coveted award simply reads, “For meritorious contributions to professional photography.” The words are few, but the meaning is deeper than any words can express.

The Texas Professional Photographers Association is proud to present the National Award to Robert Norwood who, for decades, has volunteered countless hours behind the scenes for TPPA and who can be seen at nearly every event. Although he technically entered the profession as a photographer’s assistant, he has become a leading expert in the new field of drone photography.

Robert was a pilot for American Airlines when his wife, Kathy, launched her photography business, and he actively joined her in attending workshops, state photographic events, and national photographic conventions. Along the way, he purchased a small drone and began researching how he could contribute to the photographic community by leveraging his extensive knowledge of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its drone-related regulations.

In 2018, Robert completed the Professional Photographers of America certification course on drone photography, earning his Certified Drone Photographer certificate alongside his Photographic Craftsman degree. For nearly three years, he and his wife taught a class titled “Passing the Part 107 FAA Test,” and many photographers who took their class passed the rigorous 60-question exam, becoming certified to incorporate drones into their photographic businesses.

The odyssey of Robert Norwood into the world of aviation commenced when he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC as a young man. Driven by an insatiable thirst for flight, he soon found himself in the cockpit of fighter jets, where he meticulously honed his skills as a pilot.

His service in the USMC led him on missions across the globe, including two remote tours to Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, Guam, and Korea. Norwood’s military journey was marked by tireless hours of training and relentless dedication.

He earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1979 in Beeville, Texas, and his repertoire included piloting T-34 Cs, T-2 Buckeyes, TA-4s, F-4 Phantoms, and RF-4Bs. Notably, his final military aircraft mission was in the realm of Photo Reconnaissance, blending his love for flying with a passion for photography.

After parting ways with the military in 1986, Robert Norwood embarked on the next chapter of his remarkable journey, joining American Airlines, where he soared as a commercial pilot for an astounding 35 years. His transition from military aviation to civilian flights was seamless, quickly establishing him as a dependable and skilled pilot. Beginning as an Engineer on the 727, his career spanned various aircraft (from the DC-10, MD-11, Fokker 100, B-757, and B-767) to culminating as an international pilot flying the B-777.

Norwood’s love for the skies remained steadfast, and his tenure with American Airlines enabled him to share his passion with countless passengers, ensuring their safety and comfort on every flight.

In April of 2024, Robert Norwood, in collaboration with Glenda Beckwith, will teach the second-ever drone photography class at the prestigious Texas School of Professional Photography in Addison, Texas. This class is poised to become a sensation among photography enthusiasts and drone hobbyists. Their students will not only gain proficiency in the technical aspects of flying drones but will also acquire invaluable insights into capturing breathtaking aerial images. Drones have opened up new horizons for photographers, and Robert Norwood is eager to guide others in exploring this mesmerizing realm.

Presenting the National Award to Norwood was the 2022 recipient, Trey Homan of San Antonio, Texas. So, to a dedicated individual who has truly earned his place with TPPA, we say, “Congratulations!”