1st Place Winner, Macro
Nicholas Samaras, Stratoni, Greece
How long have you been a shooter: Twelve years professionally, and exclusively underwater
How long diving: Since 1998
Day Job: My passion became my profession
Favorite camera: I'm a fan of Canon. I use the EOS 5D line because it is a very reliable camera
Behind the Shot: Stratoni, a small gulf in the northern Aegean Sea, used to be a place rich with marine life—including seahorses. About three decades ago, fishing boats destroyed the sea bottom; a tremendous flood swept soil into the sea in 2010. Recently a team of marine biologists rediscovered the place, so I planned three days of diving to photograph my favorite animal. This portrait put me deep in thought. It was like this seahorse was expressing all of its complaints and disappointments about human actions.
Camera Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II in a Sea&Sea MDX housing; Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens; two Retra strobes
Settings: f/18, 1/125, ISO 125
Prize: Trip aboard Oman Aggressor
How would you describe your photography style? How did you develop it?
I think that my style evolved through my previous career in advertising and studies. When I shoot underwater I have in mind a cover, a brochure, a framed canvas or something like that. I want my shots to differ, to have high aesthetics, but at the same time to catch the eye like an attractive ad a reader stops to look at while browsing through a magazine.
What is your favorite place to be underwater?
If I had to choose one, I would say Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
What is your most unforgettable moment underwater?
It’s a recent moment from the Red Sea when I shot an oceanic whitetip shark tangled with a regulator holder. It was a heartbreaking moment.
What underwater shooter do you most admire and why?
From old school to new school I would say David Doubilet, Paul Nicklen and Alex Mustard. They are inspirational photographers with unique styles.
What's your advice for underwater shooters entering their first photo contest?
Don't rush yourself! Choose your favorite shots, but don't send them right away. Clear your mind and check them again a few days later.
1st place, Conservation, Beneath the Sea International Imaging Competition
1st place, Portrait, Underwater Photographer of the Year