The full competition rules. These are regularly reviewed and may have changed since last year's competition.
- All photos in the main categories must be taken underwater (split-level images are permitted as long as a part of image is underwater). Photos for the British Categories (categories 9-12) must be taken in the waters of the UK.
- Photos in the 'Save Our Seas Foundation' Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year category can be taken above and below the surface.
- Categories 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 & 12 are open to all photographers. Category 8 is open only to photographers who have never won an underwater photography award nor had their work published by 1st November 2022 (you must decide if you fit into this category, please do not ask the competition organisers).
- Categories 7 & 12 are intended for photographers whose ONLY underwater camera is of a 'compact' type at the time the image was taken. We define compacts as a classic compact, phone or action camera.
- Upon paying the entry fee of either £15 GBP, £30 GBP or £40 GBP, photographers may enter up to 3, up to 10 or up to 20 images across the categories. Payment is via PayPal only.
- There is no fee to enter the 'Save Our Seas Foundation' Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year - but there is a limit of 5 images (these are in addition to any paid-for images you may enter into the other categories)
- There is no fee to enter the British Waters Living Together category - but there is a limit of 5 images (these are in addition to any paid-for images you may enter into the other categories)
- The deadline for entries is strictly 7th January 2023 23:59 (GMT). Judging commences as soon as possible after this date.
- All photos must be the work of the photographer entering.
- Images taken on a ‘compact’ type camera can be entered into any category.
- Do not enter the same image into more than one category.
- Photos must not be more than three years old on the opening date of the competition (ie: must have been taken after 1st November 2019).
- Any images that have been awarded in major competitions or widely seen in publication are eligible, but are much less likely to win favour with the judges. Most successful images have been saved by photographers for UPY and often go on and win other awards afterwards.
- For simplicity, there are no restrictions on post processing. However, this is not a Photoshop contest and winning images are expected to represent reality. Black and white images are accepted in all categories, but are more likely to be successful in the Black & White category.
- Cropping is permitted, but winning images must still have sufficient resolution for production of the exhibition prints. Photographers placing in the top 10 in each category will be asked to provide higher resolution files before the final results are confirmed.
- You must ensure that metadata (EXIF information) remains embedded in your image file and should not be removed. Any images without metadata are unlikely to be successful.
- The judges’ decision on all matters is final (even if their decision contravenes one of the rules above). UPY is a very open competition and judges are happy to discuss their approach to judging face to face, but do not invite discussion or correspondence on specific judging decisions.
Artificially generated images
- AI generated images are not permitted in UPY.
- The UPY team will request RAW files for photos that are too good to be true or suspect in any way.
- All entered images must have the camera EXIF data embedded. This allows judges to verify how an image was taken, to help guard against AI images.
- Any entrant deliberately cheating by entering AI generated images will be banned from all future UPY contests, whether they are identified during judging or after the announcement of results.
- We reserve the right to publish any such disqualified images and name the entrant on our website and in the media.
There are online translation tools available but please be aware they can sometimes make mistakes. Please check with the organisers if something does not make sense in the rules after translation.
- The copyright of all images will remain with the photographer.
- UPY reserves the right to reproduce the best images royalty free, but only in connection with sharing the competition results and promoting the Underwater Photographer of the Year contest. Photos will always be used with credit to the photographer (e.g. "Saeed Rashid/UPY 2023" etc).
- We hope that many publications and our sponsors will showcase the results of this competition and benefit the photographers with high profile exposure for their talents.
- Entrants into one of the sponsored categories should expect to have their images used for media campaigns relating to the competition by the sponsoring organisation. The copyright of the image will always remain with the photographer.
- Our bespoke entry form will rename your files so that judging remains anonymous.
- All entries must be resized to 2000 pixels in the longest dimension at 300dpi.
- Images should be entered as JPG files, saved at best quality.
- Colour space should ideally be Adobe 1998 RGB, however the judging will use software that can read any standard colour profile.
- Please mark the boxes on the entry form if you are eligible for the British photographer and/or the Most Promising photographer awards.
- Please contact us through the contact form if you have any queries.
- DO NOT watermark images with your name.
- Only simple, English character filenames are allowed. Please use simple names such as: wideangle1.jpg.
- All entered images must have the camera EXIF data embedded (please note: copyright, location and keyword data will not be seen by the judges).
- While we have required you to enter using your email address, we will NEVER share this with anyone outside the organisers.
- We will only contact you with regard to this competition, and for no other reason.
- At no point will we hold any payment information, which will be handled by PayPal.
Points Make Prizes
The competition is open to all photographers: professionals and amateurs. A single photographer can win all the categories they enter. A single photographer, can theoretically win all the special awards, if they eligible for them all.
Each photographer will receive points for each photo that places in the top 10 position in a category, with the exceptions of positions where fixed prizes are offered and categories that are free to enter (more details below). We judge all images into an ordered top 10, although the results are reported as Winner, Runner Up, Third Place, Highly Commended (x4) & Commended (x3).
In categories have fixed prizes and paid entry, points are given for the placings that do not have a fixed prize. There is no limit to how many fixed prizes a photographer can win.
The overall Underwater Photographer of the Year is awarded a nominal 1000 points, ensuring this photographer always has first choice of the prize pool, in addition to any fixed prizes won.
- Thereafter the photographer with the most points (in total across all categories) will get the next choice of prize from our sponsors, then the photographer with the next highest points total will get next choice, and so on until the prize fund is exhausted. This system has two advantages, first winners get to choose their prizes, so end up with prizes they really need. And second more individuals will take home prizes from the festival.
- The 6 main international categories (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) will award points for the top 10 places as follows: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. However, Categories 1 and 2 have fixed prizes for the podiums, and points are not awarded where fixed prizes are given. In Categories 1 & 2 there are no points for places 1, 2 and 3, while 4th to 10th in the category will score 12-10-8-6-4-2-1.
- The other categories (excluding 11 UK Waters Living Together and Marine Conservation) will award less points as these categories typically attract fewer entrants and places are often dominated by a relatively small number of photographers. Points will be as follows: 13-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, except where there are fixed podium prizes and 4th to 10th in the category will score 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.