Story Behind the Shot "Attention Seeker"

Arek Mszyca shares a special story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image
By Arek Mszyca


My Story Behind the Shot is a little bit different. It's not just about planning and capturing the shot. It's more about how this picture became very special to me. Winning the Ocean Art Award (1st Place Wide-Angle) made it even more exceptional.


Let's start from the beginning...

I live in beautiful Cairns (Australia) and have a privilege to work on an overnight dive boat on Great Barrier Reef. It was the last day of our trip. We had perfect weather, great visibility and about 45 min to spare. I was keen to get in the water and it took me no time to convince Max to come with me for a short crew dive. Max was a perfect dive buddy – a very enthusiastic dive instructor, talented underwater photographer and not to mention, an amazing person.

During this dive we decided not to pay any attention to Wally – our local Maori Wrasse. Don't get me wrong – we all love Wally! He is the most adorable fish on Flynn Reef and interacting with him is an unforgettable experience for everyone. This time we just wanted to focus on something else. After all, how many pictures of the same fish can you take?


Wally the famous Maori Wrasse at Flynn Reef.


Wally didn't like this idea at all. He was following us closely through most of the dive. And here is the funny part – the more we ignored him, the closer he was approaching us. Wally was determined to get some attention. At some stage he got right behind Max. I had my wide wet lens ready and took few shots.


Wally poses for a portrait.


It took me a few weeks before I had a chance to look back at those pictures. After some basic post-editing I realised that some of them were actually not too bad. It was after midnight when I emailed one of them to Max. About 10 minutes later I got a message from him saying how much he loved it. He was also trying to convince me to put it into an underwater photo competition. I took it as a nice complement but Max was serious about it. Over the next few weeks he kept reminding me to submit this shot to the photo contest. Eventually the opportunity came up and I did it.

I can't even describe how happy I was to find out that my picture made it to the Grand Final! My first thought was that I need to share the news with Max. To thank him for all his advice but also to tell him that he is a great model and he should consider a career change! At the end, I decided to wait few more weeks for the final announcement.

I wish I didn't wait... Shortly before the announcement Max had a tragic accident during another dive expedition. He passed away. I never had a chance to share the great news with him. I can only imagine how happy Max would be to hear that we won. I can only imagine how big his smile would have been...

Thank you Max!



Max and Wally.


View the gear Arek used, settings and the Ocean Art prize he won


View all the Ocean Art winning images



About the Author, Arek Mszyca


Born and raised in Poland, I've been living in tropical Cairns (Australia) since 2000. I consider myself very lucky. Why? It's simple.. Cairns is a gateway to Great Barrier Reef and working here on the dive boats (first as an instructor and now as a skipper) gives me the opportunity to combine my multiple passions – traveling, diving and photography. Check out some of my travel and underwater images on Flickr @aarreekk and soon on 500px @aarreekk


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