Meet Scuba Diving Magazine's 2022 Photo Contest Winners
Grand Prize — Boz Johnson
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A SHOOTER: 14 years
HOW LONG DIVING: 14 years
DAY JOB: Artist
FAVORITE CAMERA: Nikon D850
AWARDS: This is my first contest
How did you start in underwater photography? I have worked with photography as a profession and a hobby my whole life and have always been fascinated with the sea, but my experiences underwater were limited to snorkeling and a couple of resort scuba dives. About 14 years ago, while I was visiting some friends who worked for a dive shop in Turks and Caicos, one of them let me borrow an underwater camera, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
What is your favorite underwater subject to photograph? Nudibranchs are probably my all-time favorite. Their diversity is intriguing. They are usually slow, mostly cooperative, and overtly showy, making them a perfect macro subject.
What’s your No. 1 bucket-list dive destination? I had to cancel a trip to Raja Ampat a few years ago and would still like to go. I’ve heard it’s a great place to work on wide-angle photography.
What underwater shooter do you most admire and why? When I first started shooting underwater, my dad gave me all of David Doubilet’s books as a gift. He had contacted David, who wrote me a really nice and sincere letter of encouragement. Seeing his amazing images transformed my idea of underwater photography from a kind of identification exercise to more of an artistic mission.
What’s your advice for underwater shooters entering their first photo contest? This is my first contest. I was encouraged by friends who thought I should enter. I would encourage others to enter and pick images based on what they like rather than what others might prefer.
First Place, Behavior — Salvatore Ianniello
How Long Have You Been a Shooter: 30 years
How Long Diving: 40 years
Day Job: Dental Technician
Favorite Camera: Nikon Reflex AWARDS: Oasis Photo Contest, International Photography Awards, Festisub, PAF Tachov, Tokyo International Foto Awards, Moscow International Foto Awards, and more
What’s your favorite place to shoot underwater? The Mediterranean, primarily the Gulf of Naples, because it is so close to home.
What is your favorite underwater subject to photograph? Nudibranchs. These marvelous sea snails fascinate me with their colors. Since they move so slowly I can capture the perfect photographic moment within minutes of observing them.
What’s your most unforgettable moment underwater? The first time I photographed a seahorse—I’ve always been fascinated by them since I was a child, so observing them in their natural habitat is fantastic.
How would you describe your photography style? I love naturalistic style purely for underwater photography, where I try to transform a biological event into art.
What’s your No. 1 bucket-list dive destination? I would love to go to the South Pole to photograph penguins and other species—it’s such a different environment than what I’m used to!
What underwater shooter do you most admire and why? I love many naturalist photographers, both terrestrial and underwater, especially those who are able to communicate emotion and art through their photos.
How do you choose which of your photos to enter in a photo contest? I choose the photos that have a visual impact at first sight.
What’s your advice for underwater shooters entering their first photo contest? I recommend going to photographic exhibitions, viewing winning photos and shooting with your own style.
First Place, Wide-Angle — Alex Dawson
How Long Have You Been a Shooter: Since 1995
How Long Diving: Since 1993
Day Job: Freelance photographer and content creator
Favorite Camera: Nikon Z 9 in a Nauticam housing with a Saga port
Awards: Scuba Diving Magazine 2018, First Place, Wide-Angle; Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022, Highly Commended, Wide-Angle; and more.
How did you start in underwater photography? The more I started to explore underwater as a diver, the more I felt the need to share the beauty with nondivers.
What is your favorite place to shoot underwater? Anywhere where there is good visibility.
What is your favorite underwater subject to photograph? Huge wrecks and mines and anything man-made.
What is your most unforgettable moment underwater? Close contact with whales and sharks.
What inspires your photography? Sharing the underwater world with the rest of the world.
How would you describe your photography style? Photographing hero shots in huge seascapes.
How did you develop this style? Partly from 15 years as a still-life photographer and mixing my passion for landscapes and hero shots.
What is your No.1 bucket-list dive destination? The USS Saratoga wreck at Bikini Atoll.
What underwater shooter do you most admire? Laurent Ballesta is a great role model.
How do you choose which photos to enter in a contest? I try to choose very unique images.
What is your advice for underwater shooters entering their first contest? Shoot what you love the most and try to perfect it by shooting the same subjects over and over again. It’s all about the details.
First Place, Compact Camera — Miguel Ramirez
How Long Have You Been a Shooter: Eight years
How Long Diving: 26 years, but I have been diving regularly for four years.
Day Job: Lifeguard
Favorite Camera For six months I have been using a Nikon D500.
Awards: Ocean Art, World Shootout, DEEP Indonesia, ADEX Voice of the Ocean (Singapore), Lens Beyond Ocean (Malaysia), Underwater Photo Marathon (Croatia), and more.
Your favorite underwater subject to photograph? All species under the surface.
What’s your most unforgettable moment underwater? The first time I was underwater with a humpback whale, on Réunion Island. I thought my heart was going to stop when she approached 5 meters from me!
What inspires your photography? The pleasure of being underwater and discovering underwater species.
How would you describe your photography style? How did you develop this? I like to try and discover different styles. I learned on my own by trying and observing the specialists. But my most successful style of photography is “reflections,” when a subject swims under the surface of the water. I try to bring a poetic or artistic touch to the composition, thanks to the reflection and the environment.
What’s your No. 1 bucket-list dive destination? Raja Ampat.
What underwater shooter do you most admire and why? I admire the work of Tim Ho, for its creativity and simplicity. He inspired me a lot in his way of using compact cameras.
What’s your advice for underwater shooters entering their first photo contest? To select first sharp photos, and then with a touch of creativity. Often what makes the difference between the best photos will be the unique side of this one.
First Place, Macro — Yury Ivanov
How Long You Have Been a Shooter: Over 15 years
How Long Diving: 33 years (10,000-plus dives)
Day Job: In-house photographer at Matahari Tulamben Bali dive resort
Favorite Camera: Nikon
Awards: Asia Pacific UW Photo Challenge 2017, First Place, Nudibranchs; Scuba Diving magazine Through Your Lens Photo Contest 2020, Second Place, Macro; OGPICOTY 2022, First Place, Animal Behaviour; and more.
How did you start in underwater photography? Since the age of 10, I was interested in the underwater world. I watched The Jacques Cousteau Odyssey many times, and I fell in love with the sea life. The first time I went to the Red Sea in 1998 and saw the extraordinary beauty of the underwater world, I immediately understood: “I want to shoot it!”
What’s your favorite place to shoot underwater? My favorite place to shoot underwater is Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia.
What is your favorite underwater subject to photograph? Nudibranchs. There are 700-plus species around Bali. I call them “vivid colors of the sea.”
What’s your most unforgettable moment underwater? The most interesting moments to me are nudibranchs mating and feeding, especially when a nudibranch feeds on another sea slug. Members of the Gymnodoris family do that.
What inspires your photography? I can show people through my photos how beautiful, fantastic, incredible and even unbelievable sea creatures can be—this is what inspires me.
How would you describe your photography style? How did you develop this? Macro and in many cases super macro are my styles. I developed it by spending a lot of time underwater with a camera, trying different macro lenses. I also observe a lot of animal behavior.
What underwater shooter do you most admire and why? I most admire Steven Kovacs. He is super good at blackwater, and I like it a lot!