Competition Rules

In-Water Photographer of the Year is an annual photographic competition open to everyone except employees of sponsors and supporters who are not involved in the organisation of the competition are eligible to enter. 

It is the responsibility of each entrant to ensure that they have read and abided by the Competition Rules and the submission guidelines found in the About section.

  • Entries are allowed from anywhere in the world, there is no limit on your location.
  • Entries must have been taken within the year of the competition up to and not past the closing date of the competition.
  • Once entered into the Competition, identical images must not be entered into any major competition until the Competition results are announced or until the entrant is informed by IWPOTY that their entry has not reached the next stage of judging.
  • IWPOTY reserves the right to decide if a competition is ‘major’ and their decision is final. If you are unsure of the eligibility of an image you are intending to enter, please email us for clarification before proceeding.4
  • Photos must be taken with the minimal amount of gear, no SCUBA is allowed or any other equipment is allowed which prolongs your stay underwater. We are trying to encourage the act of underwater photography whilst you are in the water with just your camera and nothing else.

Competition Categories

You can check out more information on the categories on our category page.

Overall Winner

This will be decided from all of the photographs entered.

Camera Type

Mobile Phone

Action Camera

Tough Camera (Doesn't need a housing)

Compact Camera

Four Third & Mirrorless


Digital Cinema

Photography Types

You can enter these categories with whichever camera you have or would like to use.

Wide angle


Natural light


In-Water Photography

Marine life


Model in Pool or Open Water (Human form)



Cliff Diving


Swim surface

Board photography such as surfing, bodyboarding, skim boarding, kite surfing, wakeboarding. Anything with a board and you are in the water during the photograph.


The Young In-Water Photographer of the Year

There are no limits to the age of the photographer, you can be of any age to enter this competition, not limited by scuba qualifications, you just have to own a camera you can take in to the water.

You can enter as many as the categories as you wish and can enter multiple images into the categories (up to the allowed number of images you chose on registration). 

Commended Photographs

These are chosen as second place and each photograph will be commended.


All entries must be submitted digitally (scans from film are acceptable) and must be uploaded via No entries will be accepted by mail. No digital files will be returned, but all low-resolution images, apart from those short-listed, will be deleted at the end of each Competition.

The Competition opens on 1st October 2016 and closes at midnight (GMT) of 31st December 2015. The image uploader will remain open for two hours after this time to allow for the completion of entries already registered. No entries or image uploads can be accepted after this time. Please make sure that you allow enough time to complete your entry.

We have many subcategories within the competition, as we know not everyone prefers the same subject.

For further information on which category you should choose, please see the Categories page.
NB: Please choose your category carefully. Images entered into an incorrect category will not be eligible.

A maximum total of 20 images per entrant may be submitted across the categories. For example, you may enter 6 in Macro, 3 in Wide angle, 1 in Sports and 10 in any other category or you may enter 25 in just the one. Entrants may submit the same image into more than one category, but each category entry counts as a separate image upload. (For example, if you pay for 8 entries and upload the same image into Wide angle and Sports, then 2 of your 8 entry spaces have been used). 

The entry fees are as follows:

Up to 3 images: £3.00
Up to 8 images: £6.00
Up to 20 images: £12.00

If you pay for and submit 3 images but then decide to submit a further 5 images as a new transaction at a later date, you will have to pay the full ‘eight image’ fee for this second transaction, rather than paying the difference between the ‘three image’ and ‘eight image’ fees. ie. You will pay £3 + £6.

The overall winner, the In-Water Photographer of the Year 2015, will be the person whose image is selected as the best by the judging panel.

All of the categories available are also available for those of any age.

For further information on which category you should choose, please see the Categories page.

Entry fees must be paid online, by credit or debit card, by the entrant’s parent or guardian. Paying for the entry will be seen as granting permission for the entry to be made.

Initial entry

Image files should be uploaded to the site as jpegs (72ppi) with 1280 pixels along the longest length. Please do not include watermarks, borders or signatures on your entry. When resizing your pictures, please make sure that you do not overwrite your original file. You must ensure that you upload your images the right way round. No responsibility can be taken by IWPOTY for images that are submitted backwards or incorrectly orientated. Black & white images are eligible for all categories, as are images of panoramic format.

File naming protocol

File names are for your reference purposes only. All images will be cross-referenced, by IWPOTY, with a unique identifying number and the judging is based on the image alone. When you upload your images, you will be asked for caption information. This will not be used for judging purposes.

File sizes

  • We recommend that you use a camera of 6 mega pixels or more.
  • NB Please ensure that your camera is on its highest-quality setting.

Digital adjustments

The adjustments allowed depend on the category entered, so please check carefully.

The integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the water scape is not permitted. You may not, for example, remove fish, move coral or strip in the sea bed from another image. Digital adjustments including dodging & burning, changes to tone & contrast and cropping are allowed, as are High Dynamic Range imaging techniques, stitched panoramas and focus stacking. We will require the RAW file(s) or original camera jpeg(s) for any shortlisted image in these three categories and IWPOTY reserves the right to disqualify any image that they feel lacks authenticity due to over-manipulation.


Please ensure that you keep copies of submitted images. IWPOTY will take all reasonable steps to ensure the safe storage and back-up of entries within the term of the Competition, but cannot be held responsible for exceptional circumstances including Acts of God.


All entries will be assessed by a primary selection panel and a shortlist will be announced following the completion of the primary selection and interim judging processes. All those on the shortlist will be contacted by email and will then have 10 days to supply:

  1. A high-resolution file
  2. or an untouched camera jpeg
  3. the original RAW file
  4. or the original scan (for film). Original transparency/negative to be available on request by organisers.
  5. An extended caption
  6. Full technical information – camera data and details of any post production work

Failure to produce a high resolution file of the correct size, together with the required supporting information, within the designated time period will eliminate an entrant from the shortlist. Should an entrant be unable to supply the information by the cut-off point but contacts IWPOTY to inform them of this fact within the 10 day period, IWPOTY reserves the right to grant a short additional time period to the individual based on the specific circumstances. Any such extension is at the sole discretion of IWPOTY.

The colour and cropping of the high resolution file should match that of the original entry. The submitted file should not be interpolated. The captions, extended captions and technical information of successful entries will be used in the competition book and other competition publicity and may be edited.

All winners will be notified by email and a list of the winners will be published on the IWPOTY website from Febryary 2016.

Supporting Charities

We are proud to sponsor our main chosen charity of Sea Shepherd Conservation who do an incredble job around the worlds oceans and beyond. They will receive 10% of all funds from the end of the competition year. That means that every entry could be giving Sea Shepherd £3.00 if they each enter 20 photographs.



The overall winner will receive a cash prize of at least £100, online certification page, a place in the overall winner gallery on our website and future prize arrangements from our sponsors and partners.

All monetary prizes will be paid in British Pounds (GBP). Payments to overseas entrants will be made using the exchange rate determined by the banking system on the payment date.

Other none monetary prizes are still being worked out with sponsors and will be outlined before the end of the competition.


  • Cash prizes will be released but only if there are more than 100 individual registered entrants in the competition.
  • IWPOTY reserves the right to change prizes to ones of comparable value if required by unforeseen circumstances. Any such changes will be posted on the competition website. Prizes are not transferable and no cash equivalent will be available for non-cash prizes.
  • If any winner is unable to be contacted after reasonable attempts have been made, IWPOTY reserves the right to either offer the prize to a runner-up or to re-offer the prize in any future competition.
  • Additional prizes that may be supplied by sponsors and supporters are the responsibility of their supporting companies and IWPOTY is not liable for any difficulties that may arise in relation to these specific Awards.
  • It is the responsibility of entrants from outside the UK to ensure that their country of residence allows the payment of any prize money that is won. IWPOTY reserves the right to withhold payments that are prohibited by law and no alternative prize can be offered.
  • IWPOTY reserves the right to modify, cancel or terminate the Competition given unforeseen circumstances beyond its control. These may include, but are not restricted to computer viruses, technical equipment failure or the denial of third party services that may affect the integrity and fairness of the Competition. If such an event results in cancellation or termination prior to the closing date, IWPOTY will make all reasonable efforts to refund any entry fees already received.
  • Do not put your name your the picture. The judging is anonymous and images containing a photographer’s watermark will be excluded.
  • All photos must be taken with you in the water, as long as you have your toes wet or more, entries are allowed.

Copyright and permissions

By submitting images to the Competition, each entrant confirms and warrants that:

  • they are the sole author of each entry and that it is their original work;
  • they own the copyright and any other intellectual property rights of each image;
  • they have the prior permission of those pictured in the image (or, where the image shows any persons under 18, the consent of their parent/guardian) for the usage rights required by IWPOTY and will indemnify IWPOTY against any claims made by any third parties in respect of such infringement;
  • they have not licensed or disposed of any rights in the image that would conflict with uses to be made by the Competition and
  • they have received any necessary permissions from the owner(s) of buildings included in submitted images for the usage rights required by the Competition and will indemnify IWPOTY against any claims made by any third parties in respect of such infringement.


By entering the Competition, you grant In-Water Photographer of the Year and its sponsors and supporters a non-exclusive, irrevocable licence to reproduce, enlarge, publish or exhibit, on any media, the images for any purposeconnected with the Competition. This may include, but is not limited to:
a) inclusion in the Competition book – print & digital versions;
b) display at any exhibitions;
c) on a secure web browser for judging purposes;
d) on the Competition website and on the websites of sponsors and supporters;
e) for use in press, promotional and marketing materials – both print & digital;
f) on social media used by IWPOTY, its sponsors and supporters.

If an image is short-listed, the photographer is asked to supply an extended caption for that image. This caption will be subject to the terms above.

Entrants also agree that IWPOTY can sub-license images to the media and to the Competition’s sponsors and supporters for reproduction in connection with the Competition.

Images used on merchandise commissioned by IWPOTY will be discussed individually with the photographer concerned and a separate agreement made.

Copyright of each image is retained by its respective photographer

Entrants, whose work is commended or above, agree to take part in post-Competition publicity and agree to the use of their name and likeness for this purpose without compensation.

  • IWPOTY will remove any entries from the competition that it feels may breach or contravene laws of public decency or may bring the photographer, the Competition, IWPOTY or any of its sponsors into disrepute. Such entries will be deemed as void and any fees paid will not be refunded.
  • IWPOTY will remove any entries that appear to have been taken by a member of the public handling or moving underwater objects for the sake of the image. Such entries will be deemed as void and any fees paid will not be refunded.

The decision of IWPOTY on all matters relating to the competition is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Should the entries in any category fall below the standard required by IWPOTY and the judges, then IWPOTY reserves the right not to award prizes.

All images must be uploaded, via the IWPOTY website, following the on-screen instructions. By accepting the Competition Rules and subsequently submitting your images, you have entered into an agreement with IWPOTY. Images cannot be withdrawn or amended after the close of the competition. Any queries, please email us.

IWPOTY Terms and Condtions 

For our website.

Refund policy

  1. If you intend to submit 20 images and pay the fee for this, but then only submit/upload a smaller number (for example, five) then you will not be entitled to a refund.
  2. If you feel you are entitled to a refund, you may request this by contacting us. We review all refund requests on a case-by-case basis and reserve the right to decline any refund for any reason.
  3. If a refund is approved, it will be actioned through the payment gateway you paid through. Your refund will be credited to the card you made payment with. You will receive a full refund minus the gateway processing costs.


  1. IWPOTY cannot accept liablility for any loss, damage, injury or disappointment incurred as a result of participation in, or other involvement with, the Competition, to the fullest extent allowed by law.
  2. Proof of electronic submission is not held as proof of receipt by IWPOTY.
  3. IWPOTY cannot be held liable for any emails, sent by IWPOTY, that do not arrive due to the entrant’s email security settings, restrictions placed by their Internet service provider or any other reason.
  4. IWPOTY cannot be held responsible for damage to any computers or other technical equipment relating to, or resulting from participation in the Competition or from the download of materials connected to the Competition.
  5. It is the responsibility of an entrant, on receiving prize money from IWPOTY, to ensure that they meet the tax obligations of their country of residence. IWPOTY accepts no liability for any failure by an entrant in this regard.

The information given in these terms and conditions is correct, but IWPOTY reserves the right to change any of the above without prior notice. Any such changes will be posted on the competition website. By entering the Competition, entrants will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions. Any breach of these terms by an entrant will void their entry and the entrant will be liable to IWPOTY and their sponsors, supporters and licensees for damages and losses suffered as a result of the breach. If a breach has occurred, but is discovered after the award of a prize, then IWPOTY may request the return of that prize. This Competition will be governed by English law.