Photo of Surfer Held Down by Wave Wins Ocean Photographer of the Year

Photography News
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Overall winner | Ben Thouard

The winners of the 2022 Ocean Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, with a picture of a surfer held down by one of the world’s heaviest waves, taking the top prize.

Ben Thouard, a photographer who lives in French Polynesia captured the winning image of a brave surfer in Tahiti battling against one of the heaviest waves in the world. The wave is known as Teahupo’o, or “place of skulls”.

“This is the unseen part of surfing,” says Thouard. “I have so much respect for both the wave and the surfers — surfing such a heavy wave is a huge challenge.”

A total of nine categories were judged in the competition, ranging from Wildlife, Fine Art, Conservation Hope and Conservation Impact, Adventure, Portfolio, Young, and Human Connection categories. A prize fund of more than £500,000 ($554,632) was available, says the competition’s organizers Oceanographic.

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Second place | Katherine Lu

Photographer Katherine Lu’s image of a blanket octopus taken on a blackwater night dive in the Philippines won second place, by photographer Katherine Lu.

Lu said she was having difficulties on the dive before taking the photo and hesitated before going deeper.

“Luckily, my ears equalized, and there before my eyes was this beautiful blanket octopus,” explains Lu. “We swam alongside her and then, like magic, she opened up her blanket to show herself in all her glory.”

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Third place | Brook Peterson

U.S.-based photographer Brook Peterson took third place, with a shot of a cormorant diving through a school of baitfish under an oil rig.

“There was a large school of baitfish under the platform for several weeks and, as a result, numerous other animals [were] there to feed off the baitfish: sea lions, bonita, and cormorants,” says Peterson. “The image depicts a cormorant hunting through a large bait ball.”

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Adventure category | Brandi Mueller
Conservation (IMPACT) category | Dmitry Kokh
Conservation (IMPACT) category | Andre Musgrove
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Conservation (HOPE) category | Renee Capozzola

More than 5,000 candidates submitted photographs across all categories — an increase of about 2,000 on the number of entries last year.

Thouard’s entry was unanimously voted the winner by the judging panel, which comprised six renowned photographers, including Paul Nicklen, David Doubilet, and Cristina Mittermeier.

Fine Art category | Gergo Rugli
Human Connection category | Steve Woods
Wildlife cateogry | Martin Broen

A total of nine categories were judged in the competition, ranging from Wildlife, Fine Art, Conservation Hope and Conservation Impact, Adventure, Portfolio, Young, and Human Connection categories.

Winning works in the competition, which is produced by Oceanographic Magazine, are now being displayed at a free exhibition at Tower Bridge in London until November 7.

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