28 February 2020

Student Win at Underwater Photographer of the Year

Marine & Natural History Photography student Shannon Moran has won third place at this year's Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY) contest.

Shannon picked up the award in the British Waters Living Together category with her photograph Lucky Escape. She also achieved highly commended for another photograph in the same category, Shipwreck Shelter. And all in her first year of entering the competition. Congratulations Shannon!

Her photographs were highly praised by the internationally renowned judges. On Lucky Escape, Dr Alexander Mustard MBE, former marine biologist, now widely regarded as one of the world's leading underwater photographers, commented: "I like how this picture creates drama by showing the spider crab climbing nonchalantly across the creel, oblivious to how one false move could seal its demise."

Peter Rowlands, who has worked in underwater photography since the 1970s, built one of the largest specialist underwater photography equipment retailers in the world and is a former British Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY), said of Shipwreck Shelter: "The underwater world judges not. What, how or why an artificial reef arrived is of no interest. It very quickly gets colonised by marine creatures of all shapes and sizes. This clear composition is well lit and the diver is the icing on the message."

We caught up with Shannon to talk about her UPY success...

How did you get involved in the competition?

I first heard about UPY when we started the dive module of the course back in the first year. My tutors Gina, Jane and Helen encourage us to enter our images into contests. I only started underwater photography two years ago, but I thought I had got to the stage where it is good enough to start entering contests! It's my dream to win at UPY and this success in my first time entering the contest only encourages me to work harder for next year.

When did you find out you'd won?

I first heard that I had placed back in early January. It was actually on the day we travelled to Gatwick for a University diving trip to Egypt. It was quite a long time to keep such amazing news a secret!

The winners were announced at an award ceremony at the Go Diving Show in Coventry towards the end of February. It was the first time I had been to a dive show so I didn't know what to expect. It was absolutely amazing to meet so many other photographers, including those who have inspired my work and photography whilst studying at Falmouth.

How did you choose which photos to enter?

I decided to enter a selection of 10 images from my British Waters portfolio. Some of these were images I handed in for the first module of my third year. I looked through the categories and felt these images were some of my best and most suited to the UPY categories.

How did it feel to win?

When I entered my images I hoped to make it into the final categories and maybe get a commended entry; never did I imagine I would get third place and highly commended in a category. I was absolutely thrilled when I got the email to tell me I had placed. And the award ceremony was amazing, all of the other winners were so supportive and thrilled that I had placed at aged only 21.

Why are competitions like UPY important?

This win has given me the confidence in my images that I needed. UPY is a great place to showcase my work alongside many other talented photographers. It's great to be able to show these images in much more than just a photography portfolio. I think it's incredibly important to show how beautiful UK diving is and hopefully encourage other students to take up underwater photography.

What is next for you?

After I graduate I hope to buy an underwater camera and continue my photography. I will definitely be entering UPY again next year and hope to enter some images into Wildlife Photographer of the Year too.

And finally...

A huge thank you to my tutors, the competition organisers and all those involved!