Competition Details


Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2019

Results have been announced for Ocean Art 2018. Stay tuned for information about Ocean Art 2019....


Thank you for considering entry in the Underwater Photography Guide's 7th annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition. The contest features almost 30 incredible liveaboard, resort and photo gear sponsors exceeding $80,000 USD in value. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in all categories will be able to choose from excellent prizes.

We have many categories designed to ensure that photographers find the right category for each of their images, no matter how unique. Categories are further divided into Compact, Mirrorless, and Open (all cameras). Ocean Art uses 16 categories total!

This is a virtual contest - simply upload underwater photos taken anywhere, anytime. Registration & Entries are accepted from September 4 through November 30, 2018. Winners will be announced early January, 2019



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Instructions & Entry Fees

File Specifications

Contest Rules

Category Details

How Prizes are Awarded


Instructions & Entry Fees

  • Entry Fee is $10 USD per photo. Enter 10 photos and get the 11th free (11 for $100), OR pay for 20 photos and get 2 free photos (22 for $200).

  • A single image may be submitted in multiple categories, however each submission requires an individual entry fee. A single image may only place in one category.

  • Submitting images: You will be required to log in. Next, you will be asked to select the number of images you wish to submit, pay the required entry fee and then upload your images. You are able to view your uploads, make changes to photo info, and finish an (unfinished) upload through your Underwater Photography Guide profile (find this near bottom of website left column).


File Specifications


  • JPEG/JPG images only

  • At least 2500 pixels on the longest side

  • Maximum file size 5MB

  • sRGB color space is recommended

  • Watermarks NOT allowed. Watermarked images will be disqualified

  • Scanned slides are acceptable

  • Finalists will be asked to provide original RAW file

  • Any 'advanced' editing must be disclosed in the photo caption (see rules below). 'Story' captions are not necessary unless notified of advancement to 2nd round of judging.

  • Winners will be asked for high-res jpg files for contest coverage in dive media



Contest Rules 


  • UWPG pledges to run this contest ethically and with utmost integrity.

  • Judges will not see image titles or any other references to photographers.

  • Images submitted with watermarks will be disqualified.

  • Photos must be submitted with our online entry form. If you have difficulties, please email

  • All photographers are eligible, including amateur, semi-pro, and professional.

  • There is no timeframe for eligible photos; you may submit images shot during any year.

  • Photos taken as a result of harassment to marine life that could be harmful to the subject can and will be disqualified at the judges' discretion.

  • All subjects must be alive and in their natural environment. No captive animals will be considered and no entrapment of any kind is permissible.

  • All photos must be taken in a natural water environment like an ocean or lake. No pools, aquariums or controlled environments except for entries in the Underwater Art category, which may be taken in a pool.

  • You must have been in the water when taking the photo (i.e. no pole cam shots). Over-under and split-shots are accepted.


Photo Rights & Judging

  • All images are eligible regardless of past use. However, images that have not previously placed in a major international contest and have not been widely seen in publication are favored by our judges. 

  • Entrants, by submitting images, grant permission to the Underwater Photography Guide to use winning entries for the direct promotion of the Underwater Photography Guide photo contests, including but not limited to Ocean Art. All photo rights remain with the photographer. Any images used for this purpose online will include a watermark with 'Ocean Art Contest' and the photographer's name. We are not interested in taking any other rights for the photo, selling it, making a book out of it, etc. It’s your photo.

  • Winners and prize awards will be announced early January, 2019 on the Underwater Photography Guide homepage and social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

  • All judges’ decisions are final.

  • Judges include world-renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, Marty Snyderman and Scott Gietler. Martin Edge is the author of The Underwater Photographer, a top-selling book on underwater photography. Marty Snyderman is an Emmy winner with work appearing in top publications like National Geographic. Tony Wu is a renowned underwater photographer and author of Silent Symphony. Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide.

  • Send questions to





  • This is a photography contest, not a Photoshop contest. Photoshop (or similar post-processing software) has become a necessary tool for processing images, but it is not a substitute for good photography.

  • Authenticity is paramount. Editing that enhances the photographer's original image is permitted as outlined below. Any editing that misrepresents the scene and original capture will not be accepted.

  • Note that there are no photoshop limits in the Underwater Art category - everything is acceptable. This category is designed to let your imagination fly. For this category only, you can disregard the editing rules below.


  • Global changes: color temperature, brightness, contrast, minor dodge & burn, sharpening, saturation changes, tonal adjustments, color balance adjustments, etc.

  • Rotation, flip and flop.

  • Limited removal of backscatter. This does not include adding any dust/scratches layers, removing divers, fish, bubbles, ropes or painting/burning the background of an image black.

  • Some cropping is allowed but please see the caveat in the supermacro category. Keep in mind that judges often look down on significant cropping.


  • No composite images (blending exposures in-camera or in post-processing, HDR, focus stacking, etc.), no cutting and pasting sections of other images, cloning or creating objects (i.e. adding divers, fish or glow to simulate a flashlight).

  • Excessive blurring, excessive darkening of background, excessive vignetting.

  • Cropping is not allowed in the supermacro category.


Original RAW files straight out of the camera will be requested from all finalists for auditing purposes, as well as a high-res .jpg. An entry may be disqualified if a RAW or original JPEG image is not available. We will be contacting photographers for the RAW and high-res images during mid December, 2018, before our second round of judging begins.


Category Details

Ocean Art categories are loosely defined below. Our very experienced judging panel will use their common sense when choosing winners in a category.

The first 8 categories and the Underwater Art category are open to photos taken with any type of camera: dSLR, mirrorless or compact.

Entries in the 3 mirrorless categories must be taken with a mirrorless camera (e.g. Sony Alpha, Olympus OM-D, Panasonic GH4). Please see our article on mirrorless cameras for the full definition.

Entries in the 3 compact camera categories must be taken with a point and shoot camera (e.g. Canon G7 X, Canon G16, Canon s120, Sony RX-100 series, Olympus TG-5, SeaLife DC-1400, GoPro). 



Any photo that shows a wider angle of view than the human eye (35mm focal length), including over-under shots (half in the water, half out), and close-focus wide-angle photos.



Any photo where the subject is recorded as lifesize or greater on the camera's image sensor, also known as a 1:1 (or greater) reproduction ratio. As a guideline, macro subjects are generally 6 inches across or smaller and shot with a lens focal length greater than 35mm.


Marine Life Behavior

An underwater photograph showing marine life in action (e.g. feeding, cleaning, schooling, yawning, playing, mating).


Marine Life Portrait

A portrait shot of an animal underwater including fish, sharks, sea lions, octopus, marine birds, etc. A portrait shot usually focuses on a single subject and shows their personality. Portraits can be full body shots or framed tightly around the face/head.


Cold Water / Temperate Water

Any underwater photograph taken in a cold or temperate water environment where the water is below 15C/59F for most of the year AND/OR one of the following destinations: California, New Zealand, UK, Northern Europe, Artic/Antarctic, Chile, Tasmania, Black Sea, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Atlantic. The Mediterranean and southern Australia are not included in this category (Tasmania is eligable as Cold Water). Not sure if your area is temperate? Just ask!



The main subject of the photo should be a nudibranch. Any sea slug is ok for this category. We suggest that the nudibranch(s) is very prominent in the photo. Winner of this category will be awarded the Villa Markisa Resort prize!



Photos depicting a subject that is very small. A typical macro lens will achieve a 1:1 reproduction ratio at the minimum focus distance. Supermacro is anything beyond this, where the subject is recorded on the sensor larger than seen in real life. Most supermacro shots are achieved by using a wet diopter. Absolutely no cropping is allowed.



Any photo where the living reef is the subject of the photo, similar to an underwater landscape shot. Reefscapes may use the close focus wide-angle technique and also may incorporate large fish, diver or other animal, as long as they are shown in the reef habitat among the hard and soft corals, sponges and other reef life.


Novice DSLR

Anyone can enter this category who feels like they are still a "beginner" with their dSLR. A beginner has been using their dSLR underwater for less than 2 years and has never placed or received an honorable mention in any national or international underwater photography competition. Photographers matching this description are not limited to the Novice DSLR category and can also enter their photos in any of the above categories.


Mirrorless Wide-Angle

Wide-angle photos taken with a mirrorless camera. Wide-angle subjects are generally larger than 6 inches. Mirrorless cameras are defined above.


Mirrorless Macro

Macro and supermacro photos taken with a mirrorless camera. Macro subjects are generally smaller than 6 inches. Mirrorless cameras are defined above.


Mirrorless Behavior

Photos showing marine life in action (e.g. feeding, cleaning, schooling, yawning, playing, mating). Mirrorless cameras are defined above.


Compact Wide-Angle

Wide-angle photos taken with a compact camera. Wide-angle subjects are generally larger than 6 inches. Compact cameras are definted above.


Compact Macro

Macro and supermacro photos taken with a compact camera. Macro subjects are generally smaller than 6 inches. Compact cameras are defined above.


Compact Behavior

Photos showing marine life in action (e.g. feeding, cleaning, schooling, yawning, playing). Compact cameras are defined above.


Underwater Art

Photos entered in this category can be taken in any underwater environment - including controlled environments (e.g., pools, tanks). The main subject can be anything ranging from an abstract concept to a person (a diver, freediver, model, etc.) to a fish. Commercial photographs are allowed. There are no post-processing restrictions in this category, so let your imagination fly.




How Prizes are Awarded

(see full list of prize descriptions)

Winners will be asked to rank prizes after the judging is completed (but not yet announced) and will receive the highest ranked prize available on their list. Best of Show will be awarded their first prize choice. 1st place winners will be able to choose before all other winners, 2nd place winners before 3rd place winners, etc. Winners can only receive one prize.

The exact ranking of the category point systems, which determines who gets awarded their first prize picks, will be determined by the judges based upon the number of entries and level of competiveness of each category.

Winners will learn of their placement and awarded prize when contest results are announced in early January, 2019. All prizes will be awarded.