Extraordinary Underwater Images Scoop UPY 2019 Awards


A thrilling photograph showing the exact moment a pack of grey reef sharks catch and devour a parrotfish sees British photographer Richard Barnden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019. Barnden’s photograph triumphed over 5000 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 65 countries around the world.

© Richard Barnden/UPY2019

“The Gauntlet” was taken underwater, late at night on the reefs of French Polynesia in the centre of the Pacific Ocean. Barnden explains “As I descended, hundreds of sharks covered the bottom. This unlucky parrotfish flinched, and that tiny movement alerted the swarm of sharks. The mayhem hurtled straight towards me and I instinctively pressed the shutter, moments later all that remained was a rain of parrotfish scales in the darkness, and this photo on my camera.” Barnden, 40, is originally from Brighton, England, but now lives on the small island of Palau, in Micronesia.

Chair of the judges, Dr Alexander Mustard MBE, commented “Photography is about preserving moments and what an unforgettable instant this is. Using a wide angle lens, the photographer takes us into the full drama of the hunt, as a melee of grey reef sharks rise like a breaking wave to tear apart their prey, truly revealing the ocean’s wilder side.”

Spanish photographer, Eduardo Acevedo from Tenerife, was named Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019 for his photo showing a loggerhead turtle entangled in a discarded plastic fishing net. Acevedo says “the turtles come to the Canary Islands by crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean and have to avoid many man made dangers, like plastics, ropes and fishing nets. This individual was one of the lucky ones because we were able to free it and recover the net.

© Eduardo Acevedo/UPY2019

Judge Mustard adding “plastic pollution and ghost fishing are ever increasing serious issues threatening the ocean, this sad image highlights both issues”.

The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent. Korean Taeyup Kim was named as Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 for a technically challenging image half in and half out of the water. “Paradise” shows healthy corals growing in front of a resort in French Polynesia. Kim explains “this photo was physically tough to shoot, holding the heavy camera exactly in this position while floating in the water”.

© Taeyup Kim/UPY2019

Competition judge Martin Edge commented “A perfect under and over split. One of the best examples I have seen of this type of image for some time.

The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2019 goes to Malcolm Nimmo from Plymouth in England. His image “Marine Compass” was taken while snorkelling in the Scilly Islands, in the UK. Nimmo explains “maintaining both the surface features and subject illumination requires high strobe power settings and hence careful strobe positioning. Hopefully this image highlights the beautiful marine environments we are lucky to have around the UK.”

© Malcolm Nimmo /UPY2019

Competition judge, Peter Rowlands commented “Composition, colour vibrancy and contrast combined with an unusual angle kept it rising in the rankings with each viewing.”

UPY 2019 Full Results

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Taeyup Kim (Korea)

 Most Promising British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Malcolm Nimmo (United Kingdom)

Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019 Eduardo Acevedo (Spain)

 1) Wide Angle

Winner: François Baelen (Reunion)

© François Baelen/UPY2019

2) Macro

Winner: Fabio Iardino (Italy)

© Fabio Lardino/UPY2019

3) Wrecks

Winner: René B. Andersen (Denmark)

© René B. Andersen/UPY2019

4) Behaviour

Winner: Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

5) Portrait

Winner: Nicholas Samaras (Greece)

© Nicholas Samaras/UPY2019

6) Black & White

Winner: Henley Spiers (Philippines)

© Henley Spiers/UPY2019

7) Compact

Winner: Enrico Somogyi (Germany)

© Enrico Somogyi/UPY2019

8) Up & Coming

Winner: Taeyup Kim (Korea, Republic of)

9) British Waters Wide Angle

Winner: Robert Bailey (United Kingdom)

© Robert Bailey/UPY2019

10) British Waters Macro

Winner: Arthur Kingdon (United Kingdom)

© Arthur Kingdon/UPY2019

11) British Waters Living Together

Winner: Victoria Walker (United Kingdom)

© Victoria Walker/UPY2019

12) British Waters Compact

Winner: Martin Edser (United Kingdom)

© Martin Edser/UPY2019

Marine Conservation

Winner: Eduardo Acevedo (Spain)

To see all the incredible images that were placed in this years awards, or to learn more about the competition please visit the UPY website by clicking here.

To download the free 175 page downloadable Yearbook please click here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

scroll to top