Grand-Prize and First-Place Sponsor Prizes: Liveaboard Vacations
Inspiration, adventure and reliable vessels to call home during the journey—this is what scuba liveaboard company Aggressor Adventures has been providing since 1984. A fleet of 23 yachts gives guests easy access to the world’s most dramatic marine life and coral reefs, with 51 unique itineraries in 19 destinations worldwide, including the Philippines—new this year—and the remote Revillagigedo Islands of Mexico aboard Socorro Aggressor.
Photography has been a focus for the company since 1988. Today, each yacht is equipped with ample photo tables, and a dedicated photo and video pro tags along on every adventure, offering tips and advice for any shooter looking to take their skills to the next level.
Photography is also a passion of Aggressor CEO Wayne Brown. “Photography makes diving an even more enjoyable experience,” he says. “You slow down and focus on marine life behavior, and if you can get a photo of feeding or mating, it gives you a lot more value and depth and understanding of the biology.”
To further support underwater shooters, Aggressor offers special adventure weeks dedicated to photography. The Mike and Mike Photography School, led by pro shooters Mike Haber and Mike Mesgleski, will offer six opportunities in 2023, including Palau aboard Palau Aggressor II in March, Tiger Beach aboard Bahamas Aggressor in May, and a 10-night adventure to Raja Ampat aboard Raja Ampat Aggressor II in October. A February snorkel-only trip to the Silver Banks aboard Turks and Caicos Aggressor II gives guests the chance to hone their skills with Atlantic humpback whales.
Both photo instructors make learning not just easy, but fun. They bring humor to the technical side of shooting, giving lively presentations covering camera settings, metering, lighting, composition, equipment selection and digital post-production.
Each guest aboard these special trips receives one-on-one instruction from the guides, gaining insight and advice tailored to their experience level.
That degree of personalized attention is invaluable. Who knows? It just might make the difference between being next year’s second-place or first-place photo contest winner.
Second-Place Sponsor Prizes: Scubapro Regulators
Underwater shooters want to focus on their subject, not their gear. It’s the reason so many pros, including legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle, choose Scubapro.
Many Scubapro ambassadors spend countless hours in the field, and they need their gear to keep up.
“Scubapro gear meets the demands of the most demanding photographers,” says Brent Durand, professional underwater photographer and Scubapro brand ambassador.
He’s talking about gear like the MK11/S270 regulator, this year’s second-place prize. “It’s a workhorse and an all-around great regulator,” Durand says.
Every piece of gear needs to perform, offer durability and also travel well.
Take the all-new Seawing Supernova fin, which has been re-engineered to deliver it all. “It gives you that high-performance efficiency you need when kicking hard in
a current, and it’s good for those small frog kicks you use when composing a scene,” Durand says.
It’s one more reason the brand is chosen by so many shooters, including IMAX 3D underwater documentary filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall, Shark Week regular contributor Andy Casagrande, and five-time Emmy-winning cinematographer Stan Waterman. “Our people are out there working constantly,” says Durand.
Which is good news for Scubapro because all that documenting and filming supports their overarching cause.
“Supporting them in their missions helps us raise awareness for the ocean,” Durand says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Third-Place Sponsor Prizes: Photo-Video Lights and Underwater Smartphone Housings
The beauty of the underwater environment is something that SeaLife, maker of underwater cameras, housings and lighting systems, wants everyone to experience and be inspired by.
“Our goal is to get as many people involved in underwater photography and videography as possible—and we want to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible,” says Sven Harms, vice president of the company.
The ethos of the brand has always been to deliver shooting options that are easy and approachable, regardless of experience level.
Right now, the brand offers two cameras and one housing. Simple.
“The rest is all lighting,” says Harms.
Its most popular offering, the SportDiver underwater smartphone housing, is introducing many newcomers to image-making, whether they’re on scuba, snorkeling or just splashing around in the resort pool. “Everyone already has half of the product in their pocket anyway,” says Harms. “Making it this easy compels someone to take action.”
Travelers, and especially dive travelers, are already jetting off to tropical and otherwise intriguing destinations. Having easy-to-use photo gear allows them to share every part of the trip in a way that’s just as easy as taking a selfie on an island tour. “We’re giving you the ability to access and capture photos in a new environment,” he says.
For those who prefer using a camera to a smartphone, SeaLife offers the Micro 3.0 permanently sealed camera. “All you have to do is charge the battery…there’s literally nothing to prepare other than yourself,” says Harms.