Cool Hands, Warm Heart

A little magic in Lockdown.
One of the reasons I enter the UPY competition each year is because I trust in the ethics and ethos of how it’s run. The results are always an exciting revelation, whether I’ve succeeded myself or not. Year on year, the standard goes up and so to achieve as a category winner in the 2020 awards is really very special.

Featuring at this level brings hidden rewards. All sorts of doors begin to open, especially after the media coverage subsides and the stardust has settled. Opportunities have been pouring in; invitations for interviews and television appearances, commissions for fine art prints, requests for articles, mentorships, talks, and workshops have all been in the mix. But I think best of all has been that so many people have said a resounding ‘yes!’ to collaborating on projects. That’s a diamond strike right there!

In recent years my focus has been on British freshwater habitats and ecosystems. I find them to be surprisingly diverse, rewarding spaces to explore. As a result, I spend increasing amounts of time in cool water and I couldn’t have chosen a better winner’s prize than the one selected to go with my award. Generously sponsored by Fisheye Co. Ltd in Tokyo, Japan, I’m now the lucky owner of a FIX Underwater Warmer - a heated vest. It’s the most innovative piece of kit and as I’m writing this during the Covid -19 lockdown, I’m itching for freedom and to take it diving. So I can't thank Kaz Okada from Fisheye enough - he’s been the perfect sponsor from the moment we were put in touch by Saeed. As excited as I have been to win this prize, he's gone beyond to get it to me when our respective lives have been in chaos. I really will treasure using it.

I’m ever inspired by the vision and commitment underwater photographers often share. Evident in the stories and images from so many of the winners is the increased drive and awareness towards conservation. One world, one love. Let’s keep it going!