Best Underwater Photographer 2022

The winners

These photographs are amazing! Congratulations to winner, Rafael Fernandez Caballero of Spain, overall International winner. And to Matty Smith from Australia, who won British Underwater Photographer of the Year with this awe-inspiring shot of a great white shark.

International Love Fest

The images are incredibly diverse, from up-close-and-personal with a froggy love-fest, to far too up close with Matty’s great white shark.

The photographs come from around the globe but showcase a shared love – of the ocean and the beautiful creatures that call it home. Including us.

Matty Smith explains getting his shark shot

Coastbeat spoke to Matty from his home on the mid-north coast of NSW.

‘I came to Australia as a backpacker in 1999, surfing. In 2005 I returned to work as an engineer in Queensland and loved it so much that in 2007 I emigrated. Although my background is in engineering, my big love is nature and water.

I’ve been a photographer since the mid-90s. Doing a dive ticket introduced me to the underwater world. I started to dive more than surf. Underwater photography was a natural progression.

My major break came in 2014 when I shot a portfolio of what is called ‘half-over, half-under’ images of Pacific Man of War bluebottles. My images won the Australian Geographic Nature Shot of the Year; first, second and third place in the Ocean Geographic Best Photograph of the Year’; and gained me a Nikon sponsorship. This meant that I could make photography my fulltime career. I teach, lecture and shoot for publications all around the world.’

A shark-eye view

What Matty calls ‘half-over, half-under’ describes the camera position, with the lens half-submerged in the water. It is a striking style that gives his shots great realism, as if we land-dwelling humans have ducked our heads underwater for a moment.

To find a great white shark coming at us!

Matty spoke at length to Coastbeat about his style, his process and plans for an expedition to Antarctica. We’ll be publishing the full interview, with some amazing shots he has kindly allowed us to exhibit, in next week’s Coastbeat. See you then.

Best Underwater Photographer 2022
‘Hunting’ by Damir Zurab, Croatia

View all the incredible underwater images here.