The results of the 2021 Underbathwater Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, with winning entries shot in bathrooms around the world from Basingstoke to Jakarta.
The competition, run by UK dive equipment company Fourth Element, was conceived in 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown to give underwater shutterbugs an opportunity to keep their photography skills honed and also to encourage the creativity of many who are unable to get out of their homes to pursue their unusual passions.
According to Jim Standing, co-founder of Fourth Element and originator of the idea for the competition:
“What began as a crazy idea, has quickly grown to become something that has encouraged some remarkable creativity and certainly created unique images shot during a very challenging period. The images are fantastic and tell so many stories themselves, but it has been particularly rewarding to us to learn just how much people enjoyed having a distraction from these periods of enforced isolation.”
The winning images in the professional and amateur categories show different techniques and very different results.
The winning amateur image shot by Barry McGill (above) is a grittier representation of an underwater scene which vividly captures the excitement and experience of diving in UK waters, whilst bringing an element of fun thanks to the use of Lego toys.
The whimsical image shot by Mikko Paasi in the bathroom of a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia during quarantine features children’s modelling clay, hotel towels and the technique of spinning the image through 180 degrees so that the surface of the water is re-imagined as the surface from above.
The competition had hundreds of entries in categories that had COVID-themed criteria: Self (isolation) Portrait, Lockdown Lego, Zoom In (Macro – close-up) along with Indoor Animal Behavior and Positive/Negative (black and white).
The photos were judged by Alex Mustard, the organizer of the prestigious Underwater Photographer of the Year competition; Saeed Rashid, an award-winning photographer and lecturer in Electronic Publishing at Bournemouth University; and Jim Standing.
Mustard, who is also a winner of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, said:
“We all needed some outlets during the coronavirus pandemic. This competition gave some underwater photographers the opportunity to unleash their creativity, work on their skills, perhaps familiarise themselves with new equipment, or merely have fun.”
Check out all the winners’ cool photos here.