Underwater Photographer of the Year Awards 2022 winners announced
Spanish photographer Rafael Fernandez Caballero has been named the Overall Winner of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022 for his incredible image ‘Giants of the Night’.
Cabellero beat out thousands of other entries taken by photographers from more than 70 different countries to the award.
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an international competition, based in the UK, which aims to showcase the best of underwater photography, celebrating images taken below the surface of the ocean, seas, lakes, rivers, ponds and pools
The competition is made up of thirteen categories, including Macro, Behaviour, Black & White, and Marine Conservation, as well as several categories focused specifically on images that are captured in British waters.
Captured in the night waters of the Maldives, Caballero’s winning image, ‘Giants of the Night’ depicts five whale sharks feeding together on nocturnal plankton, illuminated by the lights of a nearby boat.
Sharing the story behind the image, Caballero said, “It was already incredible when one whale shark came to our boat, but more and more kept arriving. I was diving with Gador Muntaner, a shark researcher, who couldn’t believe it as their numbers grew. He counted 11 sharks that night - a once in a lifetime encounter that nobody thought was possible.”
The judges remarked on Caballero’s mastery of light and composition in his image.
Competition judge Alex Mustards shared, “photography needs light and simply recording these giants in a dark ocean is a massive achievement. To do this with such beautiful light and careful composition of the five sharks is outstanding.”
Australian-based photographer Matty Smith has won the title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022 for his portrait of a great white shark titled Great White Split.
The image was captured in the Neptune Islands of South Australia. Smith built a super-sized dome port for his camera, as well as a carbon pole and remote trigger to enable him to attain the perspective while shooting.
Smith said, “I had wanted to shoot a charismatic over/under portrait for years. Some techniques I had previously tried failed terribly, so this time I designed and constructed my own equipment to get the camera exactly where I wanted.”
“Surprisingly, the sharks were instantly attracted to the camera, in fact it was a battle to stop them biting it!”
Smith was also named the runner-up in the Portrait category, received a highly commended award in the Behaviour category and a commended award in the Black & White category.
Top placed Australian photographers
A number of Australian photographers have been named as winners and finalists in this year’s competition.
Described by judge Peter Rowlands as “haunting yet compelling,” the image Sarah’s Underwater World has won Australian photographer Kerrie Burow first place in the Black & White category of the competition.
Hannah Le Leu’s image Against All Odds also took home a top award. The image captured at Heron Island in Australia has won her third place in the Wide Angle category of this year’s competition.
Speaking on Le Leu’s image of the sea turtle hatchling, judge Tobias Friedrich said, “One of my very favourite images of the competition. Very nice composition and excellent technique to capture this magnificent moment."
"For me, the story of this image, with the birds in the sky, really drags me into it and makes it better every time I see it. It's rare that underwater images tell a story this dramatic.”
You may recognise Le Leu’s photograph from the front cover of the February edition of Australian Photography as her image was named the Runner-up in the Animal & Nature category of our Photographer of the Year 2021 competition.
Additionally, several other Australian photographers received highly commended and commended awards in various categories of the 2021 competition:
- Jules Casey: highly commended in the Behaviour category
- Matty Smith: highly commended in the Behaviour category
- Jake Wilton: commended in the Behaviour category
- Matty Smith: commended in the Black & White category
You can see the full gallery of category winners and finalists on the competition website here.