Students impress industry judges at underwater photography Red Sea exhibition

22 February 2024

Underwater photography by Marine & Natural History Photography BA student Flora Tomlinson Pilley
Flora Tomlinson-Pilley - Underwater Photography

Imagination category winner, by Flora Tomlinson-Pilley

Type: Text
Category: Student stories

In December 2023, a group of Marine & Natural History Photography BA students embarked on an underwater photography trip to the Red Sea. From dolphins and turtles to sharks and rare ‘Shaun the Sheep’ nudibranchs, the students captured a wealth of wildlife on camera, and their final images impressed industry experts at last month’s exhibition.  

The Red Sea diving trip offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their underwater photography skills and forge lasting connections. During the trip, practical learning was enriched by workshops, peer critiques and insightful guidance from our award-winning staff, offering opportunities to refine and elevate their craft. 

The students were also joined by Dr Alex Tattersall, from Nauticam UK, and Peter Rowlands, from Underwater Photography Magazine and Magic Filters, who provided guest lectures and supported students in developing their practice. 

Reflecting on the trip, Marine & Natural History Photography BA lecturer Gina Goodman said: “Egypt is always a special trip for so many reasons: the wildlife, the setting, the people, but mainly because during those two weeks we get to bear witness to those special photographic moments. Not just the ones where we encounter big awe-inspiring wildlife, but the smaller moments, when students get out of the water with wide smiles and you know that something has just clicked for them. That after that one dive they suddenly have a grasp on a principal they didn't quite have the hour before. It’s an incredible, wonderful moment to be a part of. It's the start of a career.” 

Upon returning to the UK, the students got to work preparing for the Red Sea exhibition, which has become a notable date on the local calendar, drawing attendees from both the dive and photography industries across Cornwall. This year, the photography competition returned with even greater support and sponsorship from brands including Finisterre, Fouth Element, Nauticam UK, Magic Filters and Seaways Diving.

The Wide Angle category, sponsored by Fourth Element and judged by Rannvá Jørmundsson and Alex Griffin, was won by Ben Lindberg. Connor McGuiness-Dean came out on top in the Macro category, which was sponsored by Dr Alex Tattersall of Nauticam UK and judged by Shannon Moran. Finisterre sponsored the Imagination category, with Abbi Hughes selecting Flora Tomlinson-Pilley as the winner. And the Most Promising award, sponsored by Magic Filters and judged by Doug Anderson, went to Victoria Ward.  

A new award was also introduced this year to recognise skills, dedication and teamwork. The Outstanding Talent and Teaching Award (OTTA) was won by Morgan Osman and sponsored by Seaways Diving.  

Participating students shared that their encounters with nature and marine life were truly unique, highlighting the special opportunities that come with a trip like this. Will Partridge expressed his favourite moment of the trip, recalling a very close encounter with an inquisitive turtle. “It provided us with such amazing opportunities, and I feel that it has really helped us develop our photography skills in many ways traditional teaching could not. My favourite part of the trip was when a green sea turtle swam right up to me and almost touched my camera dome,” he said.  

Student Heather Gillies said: “The trip to the Red Sea was probably the best experience I've had in my life (...). I went from having almost no experience in underwater photography to coming out with shots I'm extremely proud of. All of this couldn’t have been achieved without the Marine & National History Photography BA team.” 

The value of learning from their peers was also recognised by the students. Ellie Fraser said: “The trip itself is a great place to get inspired, you're surrounded by creative people (course mates and staff), it's the perfect environment to trial and test methods.”  

Inspired by this work?

Falmouth University offers an ideal setting for mastering the art of capturing nature's beauty. 


You might also like