In It To Win It
Scuba Diving|September/October 2020
Competition can help you improve your shots
By Alex Mustard

There are few better ways to improve your photography than absorbing inspiration from underwater imagery like the winners in this issue. While contests can occasionally bring out the worst in photographers, most of the time they have a positive impact. Competitions celebrate and encourage excellence, allow us to gauge our progress, and provide an independent assessment of greater value than social media likes. Successes massage our ego, and can lead to life-changing opportunities.


The most popular subjects for underwater photography are living creatures; any decent photo competition wants to promote the right kind of approach with wildlife. Do not take photos that involve stressing or moving animals. Common transgressions that judges disqualify are benthic species floating in the water column or creatures picked up and plonked on unnatural backgrounds. Even if judges let something slip through, you can suffer being named and shamed by your peers when the results are out. The message is simple—go about your photography in the right way.

Competition photos exist to wow people. These are usually photos with immediate impact: strong compositional shapes, clean backgrounds, rich colors and powerful contrast. Most contests demand RAW files for checking the validity of your entries, so make sure you are not wasting your time shooting JPGs.

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