Premier Underwater Photography Competition Now Accepting Entries

underwater photographer of the year 2021 title

Clockwise from top left: Greg LeCoeur's overall winning entry 'Frozen Mobile Home', and category winners 'The Engine' by Tobias Friedrich, 'Layered Thoughts' by Mok Wai Hoe, 'Smile' by Colin Garrett and 'Butterfly Effect' by Lilian Koh (Photographs: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020)

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 (UPY 2021), widely regarded as the world’s leading underwater photography competition, has opened for submissions until the closing date of 5 January 2021. The competition attracts thousands of entries each year, with winners showcased around the world and in the mainstream media. More than 500 photographers participated in the 2020 contest which was won by Greg Lecoeur from France.

'Nobody needs reminding that 2020 has been a unique year, but we are happy to confirm UPY 2021 is on, although with a few changes,' said Alex Mustard, chair of judges. 'We are well aware that international travel has been restricted, but many photographers have been shooting more locally or had time to dive into their archives and find some hidden gems. We’ve introduced a new My Backyard Award to celebrate images taken close to home, wherever that may be.'

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2020 Macro Winner 'Goby Goodness', by Hannes Klostermann of Germany (Photo: Hannes Klostermann/UPY 2020)

One notable change for the 2021 competition is that this year, UPY will not be offering any prizes. 'We know that winning prizes is a major motivation for entering photographic competitions and we are really proud that UPY has given out so many in the past and surely will in the future,' said Mustard. 'However, the diving industry has been severely impacted by the events of 2020, and in support of them we feel it is not an appropriate time for photographers to be asking them for prizes.'

UPY has been held each year since 1965, when British photographer Phil Smith was named as the first Underwater Photographer of the Year. The competition attracts entries from all around the world, with 13 categories including Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour, Wreck and Conservation; categories aimed at new photographers and those with more basic camera equipment, and four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The experienced judging panel consists of  Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.

For more information, submit entries and view previous years' winners, visit


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