Underwater photography is considered to be one of the most challenging areas of photography and because of this, competition between photographers can be fierce. With the digital revolution making it easier to take a camera underwater, and with so many fascinating things to photograph, more and more divers are choosing to dive with cameras. This doesn’t mean everyone wants to enter competitions, but if you are anything like us at Liquid Lense and are pretty much addicted to photography and trying to be as good as you can be, then maybe you want to give some competitions a go.
Underwater photography competitions are a great way to showcase your photography skills and start to make a name for yourself within underwater photography circles.
There are literally hundreds of online competitons which are open to anyone who takes photos. Some are free, others ask you make donations to conservation projects such as Project AWARE, and some charge entry fee’s either per person or per entry.
For some, its just the recognition of being a winner that makes entering worthwhile, however many of the competitions have fairly substantial prizes, from vouchers and diving equipment, right up to liveaboard trips and dive holidays.
Often the competitions are won by photographers using SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, but with many excellent prosumer cameras on the market, many have categories specifically for compact cameras, meaning if you have one, you don’t have to compete with the big boys! Thats good news, especially for people just starting out or those who cannot afford or who have no desire to use an SLR underwater.
Viewing other people’s entries and past winners are a great way to see the type of image the judges look for and to get ideas and inspiration for the next time you are out with your camera. Most of the competitions worth their salt look down very harshly on images which show marine life being interfered with, stressed or the photographer causing reactions to get a photo opportunity. Creatures should never be handled or irritated to create a reaction and sedentary ones should never be placed on an alien background, which may result in them being killed. Images showing anything like this are usually disqualified from the competition.
Underwater Photography.com is a great place to start. You can enter one photo a day for free, or if you pay for an account, you can post 2 per day. They are added to the other posts and people can go through and vote for your pictures. These votes do not count towards anything, but if you get ‘likes’ then you know your peers like what you are doing! Each month, images are ‘Shortlisted’, then at the end of the month the ‘Monthly Hotshot’ is chosen.
At the end of the year, the person who has entered the most consistent images wins the World Champion! There are no prizes for this competition, but you get the respect of your peers and the recognition of being a fantastic photographer!
Divephotoguide.com is another well known photography competition. They have a monthly theme and you can enter up to 3 pictures related to that theme. It could be a specific theme such as ‘Turtles’, or it could be more open such as ‘The Colour Yellow’, or ‘Patterns’.
Entry is totally free and the prizes are pretty decent, usually some form of voucher from Backscatter.com with a value of around $200, so very worth entering!
For more prestigious competitions, there is the BSouP (British Society of Underwater Photographers) who run monthly ‘Focus On‘ competitions for their members from January to August, as well as holding their annual ‘Splash In‘ competition which is open to anyone. There are usually 3 categories and separate prizes are given to images taken with compact cameras.
The prestigious DEEP Indonesia International Underwater Photo Competition is part of a unique series hosted by DivePhotoGuide & Wetpixel, in association with DEEP Indonesia, Indonesia’s first-ever diving, adventure travel and extreme sports expo.
Photographers will compete in seven themed categories to win over $51,000 in prizes, including underwater photo equipment and premium dive travel packages to some of the top photo destinations in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Indonesia trips include Triton Bay, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Lembeh, Manado, and Bali. The contest includes a category for images that focus on conservation and the marine environment, one specifically for entries taken by compact digital cameras, and one specifically for Indonesian entrants.
The DEEP Indonesia competition is part of a unique series, and together with the Our World Underwater competition, the prize pool is over $120,000 – the biggest in the world. Winners also achieve the glory of being named some of the world’s best underwater photographers, and the wining images will be exposed to millions of readers of dive, travel and photography magazines and websites worldwide. Esteemed judges include leading professional underwater photographers and magazine editors from around the world.
Scuba Symphony run a Facebook competition and the winner is voted for by others on Facebook ‘Liking’ the images. The image with the most ‘Likes’ wins, simple! Prizes range from dive holidays, camera equipment and diving gear. You must make a donation to Project AWARE to be eligible for entry, making it a very worthwhile competition to enter as you are supporting a very important cause. Search for them and ‘Like’ them on Facebook then go to the notes section on their page which gives all the information about entering.
These are just a few of the competitions which are out there, so if you are serious about entering your pictures, try searching for others so your pictures can be seen by as many people as possible.
Entering competitions is fun and can be very worthwhile and rewarding. And you can only win it if you’re in it! So get entering and show off your amazing pictures, you might just be very happy you did!