Over the last ten years, new types of competition for underwater photographers have emerged which allows all competitors a more equal opportunity against one another. One competition is a 'beach photo dive. This event is popular because all entrants compete under almost the same conditions: same day, sam water area, same film. The equipment and exact location of diving are the only uncontrolled variables.
Usually, each diver is given a roll of color slide film: same ASA and exposure numbers, a limited time frame (usually 4-5 hours) and specified area/body of water for exposure of the film. There may be required target species and/or categories and sometimes several expertise divisions. There can be team competition too combing photo graphers at different expertise levels and totally all scores on a team to determine the winners.
After the film is exposed, it must be returned to the competition headquarters by a specific deadline. All the film is processed - usually over night. In some contests all the slides are judged; in others, the slides are returned to the photographers the next morning for entry selection in the various categories by the competing photographers -usually limited to 3 - 4 slides per category. Sometimes only slide strips are returned , and the photographers mount their entry slides only. The entries are then judged, and awards are presented. The entire event takes a weekend.
Most competitions have a party with dinner and dancing on the evening of competition day. The entry fee includes the film, processing, party and prizes. Prizes may be plaques, ribbons, dive equipment and/or a dive trip grand prize.
The World Underwater Photography Championships are a Beach Competition and have been biennial since 1988. A hurricane postponed competition in 1990. The Championships were in Italy in 1991, in Cuba in November 1992, in South Korea in 1994, in Spain in 1996 and 1998 in Norway. Competitors must qualify through their Federation (ie USOA). At the international level, about 20 federations compete each with a team of 2 photographers.
Other International Beach Photo Competitions are annual and open to all competitors: in Malta, the BLUE DOLPHIN in November and in Indonesia, the FLORES in May.
Two additional types of beach photo competitions have recently been developed: the Photo Fishing: a free diving (breath hold) competition where specific fish species and minimum size of fish are targeted. Photo Fishing is a way for divers to seek out and shoot fish without harming them. And the Youth/Beginners Competition where uw throw away cameras are used for young competitors. International Rules for Photo Fishing should be available in 1997.
1999 Beach/Photo Hunt Photo Calendar
Flores May '99 - Underwater Festival, Indonesia
Monterey Beach Dive Photo Competition - Monterey ,CA, September '99
Midwest Coucil Shootout - July '99, Table Rock Lake, Kimberling City MO
Pac Coast Underwater Photo Championships - August '99, La Jolla, CA
Blue Dolphin Beach Photo Competition - November '99