We are proud to launch the first ever photography awards dedicated to celebrating our underwater kelp forests.
Find out more, submit, and spread the word!
The "Hidden Forests Around Us" theme invites photographers to capture how kelp forests are connected to our daily lives and how we as a society can build a new relationship with our ocean to save them.
Entries will showcase the multi-faceted essence of these unique ecosystems and inspire affection and recognition for these often underappreciated underwater worlds.
Photos with Purpose We aim to illuminate our human connection to kelp forests, the rich diversity of life they sustain, the economies they bolster, and the cultures they influence, unveiling the vibrant colors of the kelp forest tapestry that blankets our planet's oceans. By doing so we hope to elevate kelp forests in the conservation conversation and to achieve the goals of the Kelp Forest Challenge, a global mission to protect and restore 4 million hectares of kelp forest by 2040.
With a big thanks to our partners and sponsors who have helped us generate a generous prize pool, total value of 20,000 AUD
Competition Opens November 2023
Stories from the Forest (Photojournalism & Kelp Forest Photographer of the Year): This category invites photographers to narrate a story related to kelp through a series of 5 images. These could include stories of survival, the daily life of creatures within the kelp forest, or the impact of environmental changes on these ecosystems or the people and organizations working to protect, conserve, study, or restore kelp forests.
Kelp and Connections to People: Kelp forests are connected to people in more ways than we realize. This category highlights the diverse ways people rely on and are linked to kelp forests around the world. Appropriate images including sustainable harvesting, recreational activities like diving and snorkeling, or artistic interpretations of human interactions with kelp.
Kelp For Our Future: Kelp forests are incredibly resilient but are increasingly threatened and we need a new approach to save our kelp forests. This category highlights the ways that people are working to protect, restore, or research our kelp forests and ensure these ecosystems persist for generations to come. Images could include researchers in action, scientific instruments, visuals that represent scientific findings related to kelp, restored areas, highlight threats to kelp forests, or any effort working to help our kelp.
Kelp Ecosystems (Wide Angle): Capture the grandeur and complexity of kelp forests in all their wide-angle glory. This category invites photographers to showcase the beauty and vastness of these underwater jungles, providing an ecosystem perspective.
Kelp Macro: Dive into the intricate details of kelp and its surrounding microcosm. This category encourages photographers to focus on the smaller, often overlooked aspects of kelp life, from the texture of the kelp to the minute organisms that call it home.
Kelp Wildlife: Highlight the diverse array of marine life that thrives within the kelp forests. From playful sea otters to elusive sharks, this category celebrates the biodiversity found in these rich habitats.
Youth (< 21): A category dedicated to young, budding photographers 21 years and under. This encourages the younger generation to explore, appreciate, and capture the magic of kelp forests, fostering a connection with nature at an early age.
Great Southern Reef: A category dedicated to showcasing kelp forests along Australia’s “Great Southern Reef”, an 8,000 km stretch of coastline that is intricately linked to kelp forests and over 2/3s of Australians.
All entries are exclusively managed through Film Freeway
Enter today, celebrate kelp forests, join the global community, inspire others, and compete for prizes and the title of Kelp Photographer of the Year.
We will award prizes for the winners and runner ups of each category. Prizes are a mix of monetary, goods, and vouchers.
The winner of each category will receive approximately $1600 in prizes.
The winner of the Kelp Photographer of the Year will receive approximately $3500 in prizes.
The runners up in all categories will receive approximately $600 in prizes.
All values given in AUD.
Eligible Photos and Entrants: This competition is open to both amateurs and professionals over 18 years of age. The Youth Category is open to photographers 18 and under as of January 2024. All photographs must be the original work of the entrant and must have been taken underwater in a kelp forest ecosystem or highlight an aspect of a kelp forest ecosystem (kelp, associated biodiversity, kelp farming, science, etc).
Entry Period: The Photo Contest begins at 00:00 on November 1st, 2023 and ends at 11:59 on March 8th, 2024 AEST (the “Entry Period”). Entries submitted before or after the Entry Period will not be eligible. All images must be submitted through the photo submission form on our website. Images that are sent via mail or email will not be accepted.
Entry Fee: The early bird entry fee is $6 USD per photograph for up to five photographs per category. Total entries per person should not exceed 15 photos. Groups of photos submitted for the Kelp Story Category count as one entry. The fee must be paid online at the time of submission and is non-refundable. The entree fees cover administrative costs of hosting the competition, such as website hosting and the contest platform. If the entry fee is a barrier to submission, please contact us to arrange a fee waiver, pending availability.
File Specifications: All photos must be saved as JPG files and resized to 2000 pixels in the longest dimension at 300dpi. Images must not contain any frame, border, watermark, logo, or identifying marks.
File naming: LastName_FirstName_PhotoTitle_Category.JPG Example: Adler_Jennifer_SeaPuppy_KelpWildlife.JPG
We will remove your name from the filename before sending the images to the judges. All entered images must have the camera EXIF data embedded. Please include caption information in the metadata. Caption information must be complete, true, and accurate.
Individual photos may only be entered into one category. However photos submitted as part of the "Stories from the Forest" Category may also be entered as individual photos into other categories. If you choose to include people in your submission, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary releases from the individuals depicted. We reserve the right to require entrants to submit signed photo releases for the submitted photograph, which may include a signed waiver from the subject or the subject’s legal guardian or representative.
Editing: Basic post-processing (i.e., color and contrast adjustments, cropping, sharpening, noise reduction) is allowed. However, alterations that materially change the content of the original image, such as adding, removing, or replacing elements, are not permitted.
Ethics: AI generated images are NOT permitted. We will require RAW files for all winning photos. All entered images must have the camera EXIF data embedded. Any entrant deliberately cheating by entering AI generated images will be banned from all future contests.
Photographs should respect the underwater environment and its inhabitants. Any behavior that damages the environment, stresses or harms wildlife, or violates local regulations is not acceptable. Evidence of such behavior will disqualify the entrant.
Photo Rights and usage: You retain copyright of all of your images submitted to the contest. We reserve the right to reproduce submitted images royalty free, but only in connection with sharing the competition results and promoting the contest. Photos will always be used with credit to the photographer (e.g. "Jennifer Adler/Kelp Photo Awards 2024"). You have the ability to choose whether you would like to give KFA rights to use your images as part of our conservation efforts when you submit. You still retain copyright of your images and KFA will always give photo credit.
Explanation of Judging Process: Submissions will be evaluated by a diverse panel of experienced underwater photographers and photo editors based on technical excellence, originality, creativity, composition, and impact. The judges' decisions are final and binding.
Awarding of Prizes: Winners will be notified via email and announced on our website by June 15, 2024. Prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. Winners may be required to verify their eligibility. Winning photos may be featured in Kelp Photo Awards exhibits in Australia and the USA. There will be 7 category winners. Prizes may be reported as income to a winner and the winner will be responsible for all taxes associated with the receipt of a prize.
Questions and inquiries about contest rules can be emailed to the Kelp Forest Alliance.
Instructions for submitting to the FilmFreeway Photo Platform (photos below)
Create an account
Click “My Projects” to create a new project. NB: You will need one project per submission.
Create another project if you wish to submit additional entries.
Single entry cart
Multiple entry cart – This is the cost efficient option as it will save you multiple service fees.
Entries Open November 2023
Early Bird Deadline December 2023
Regular Deadline January 19, 2023
Late Deadline February 14, 2023
Winners Announced June 15, 2023