The Sodwana Bay Festival features a photographic competition for any diver with any type of underwater camera setup, and for those who prefer to take their shot on dry land. With the stunning reefs and dramatic landscapes of iSimangaliso Wetland Park serving as the backdrop for these images, we encourage both divers and non-divers alike to participate in this idyllically set competition.

Photo Categories

There are three main photo categories the entrants can choose from – Junior, Novice and Experienced. A competitor can only enter one main category. Each category includes the same sub-categories, and entrants can choose a maximum of two sub-categories in which to compete. They will submit a maximum of two images in one or two sub-categories.

Description Younger than 12 years of age and can only compete in the Topside sub-category. Has less than three years of photographic experience and their work must not have been published or placed first in ANY photographic competitions (if you have won a competition, you will have to enter the “Experienced” profile). Has more than three years’ photography experience, or who has been published and have won other photographic competitions.
Sub-Categories Topside UW Macro Any image which has a picture area of 15x10cm or smaller.

UW Wide Angle Any image which has a picture area larger than a 15x10cm.

Marine Life Behaviour/Creative Marine life acting naturally in their environment/Manipulation allowed for a visually appealing image.

Topside Any image that features a large area of visible features on land or land animals.


Bonus Category Vivid-Pix Every registered photographer has the opportunity to submit a single bonus image in the Vivid-Pix profile that has been edited with Vivid-Pix software. Photographic entrants will receive trial Vivid-Pix software to use during the competition.



Additional image entries are limited to two and are charged at R100 per image.

A maximum of two images per sub-category allowed.

Video Categories

(Duration: Maximum of two minutes)

Documentary/voice over Any video that discusses what was recorded.

Artistic Any musical or art video which showcases natures. Entrants may use music, but no copyrighted music may be used.

Topside Any video that features a large area of visible features on land.



Fiona has been a professional underwater photographer for 11 years, She has built up a business around lifestyle, environmental and sports imagery, with a specific interest in water. Fiona has contributed articles and imagery to many local and international magazines and contributes to stock photography so that many of the underwater images you see published, are her work. http://fionaayerst.me/.
Fiona runs training programs for underwater photographers and people participate in anything from month-long internships to 2-week programs, and even long- weekend courses. Find out more. 


“I fell in love with underwater photography because of its essence, difficulty and pure rawness, which allows the photographer the freedom to paint his canvas and create fine art that tells a story. Underwater photography is most probably the truest form of wildlife photography that any photographer can experience. The underwater photographer is extremely limited by equipment and fully exposed to nature and its elements in every conceivable way, no hides, 4×4’s, barriers etc.

Just imagine walking around a game reserve amongst lions, leopard, wild dogs, elephant, buffalo and rhino with the normal non-threatening buck, bush pigs etc. around you. Only a raw nervous energy that heightens your senses, stirs your emotions and enhances your creativity. You have the freedom to photograph these awesome animals, and of course, totally rely on the fact that they are not planning to eat you, well that is UWP and why I find this genre of photography most appealing.

The studio is a moving, changing and an all-encompassing live canvas. It has texture and substance that can be touched and felt, very unlike air. The medium constantly changing and it has many limitations e.g. time, movement, density, light etc. making it a very demanding, yet stimulating to work in, taking it to the next level is a constant goal and I love the challenge to “get the shot”!

I try my best to highlight the beauty of the ocean and the need for its conservation by using the skills I have – photography, to show the animals that people fear and kill in a different light, to create beauty, to create compassion and more importantly to show human interaction with these magnificent animals so that there is a sense of connection by the viewer.

Essentially, I am a photographer with a passion and I take any and every moment I can to do any kind of photography given the opportunity.”