Discover the diversity of marine life with The Ocean Photography Awards 2021

Ocean Photography Awards
(Image credit: © Sebastien Pontoizeau - Ocean Photography Awards)

The nominees for The Ocean Photography Awards 2021 have just been announced and members of the public are invited to vote for the winter in the Community Choice Award category. 

The awards are split into six categories covering all elements of ocean photography. The categories are designed to be broad and open to interpretation to ensure the bravest and boldest photographers aren’t confined to strict requirements. The competition invites photographers to submit images that will connect emotionally to the judges and highlight the beauty and diversity of ocean life. 

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The Conservation Award focuses on photographers who document the negative impact humans have on the ocean through climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing. From an emperor penguin chick standing alone on the edge of an ice shelf to a sea horse tangled in a disposable mask, these powerful images highlight how ocean life is suffering at the hand of humankind. 

On a more light-hearted note, the Adventure Award features photographers who capture breathtaking moments of marine life and people’s connection to the sea. Images include world-renowned surfer Matahi Drollet, riding a wave known as Teahupo’o in Tahiti, a diver surrounded by sea lions in British Columbia and a humpback whale crashing back into the ocean.

With so much of the ocean to discover, the Exploration Award centers on photographers who bring the rawness of ocean exploration to life. Submissions include expeditions to frozen fjords, the rare sight of Southern Bobtail Squid putting on a colorful display and a diver exploring an underwater cave of Speleothems (formations formed by minerals) in Dos Pios, Mexico. 

(Image credit: © Martin Broen - Ocean Photography Awards)

Open to photographers aged 21 or under, The Young Photographer of the year award is for photographers showing skill beyond their years as well as a clear understanding of the ocean. The three nominees include Hannah Le Leu, Jack McKee and Mikayla Jones whose images of a sea turtle, a flying fish and two gray whales impressed the judges. 

The Community Choice Award is chosen by the public and gives people the opportunity to vote for their favorite. A shortlist of six images will be showcased on a digital public gallery for one week and the image with the most votes will win. 

Awarding an entire body of work, The Collective Portfolio Awards showcases photographers who have a longstanding commitment to ocean conservation with an impressive body of work. A total of ten images had to be submitted taken at any time during the photographer's life. Winners of the category will take up a one-year residency as a member of the SeaLegacy collective as well as a public expedition and magazine features.

The prizes for The Ocean Photography Awards 2021 vary from a £2500 cash prize for the overall winner, to Instagram takeovers, 1:1 mentoring schemes, a copy of the Ocean Photography Awards book and an exhibition in London. Altogether the prizes are worth more than £500,000 and the breakdown can be found here.

Winners are announced on 16th September 2021 and entries will be judged by a panel of ocean experts including Paul Nicklen, Cristina Mittermeier, Shawn Heinrichs, Ami Vitale and others. To keep up to date with the competition follow @ocean_photography_awards on Instagram. 

To see some of this year's entries scroll below.

(Image credit: © Hannah Le Leu - Ocean Photography Awards)

(Image credit: © Scott Portelli - Ocean Photography Awards)

(Image credit: © Fabrice Guerin - Ocean Photography Awards)

(Image credit: © Stefan Christmann - Ocean Photography Awards)

(Image credit: © Grant Thomas - Ocean Photography Awards)

(Image credit: © Nicholas Samaras - Ocean Photography Awards)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.