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LAUPS 49th Annual International
Underwater Photographic Competition


All Entries must be received by September 17, 2011.

Judging results will be posted on by December 1, 2011.


Entry fees are as follows:

  Entries received by September 17 Late Entries (received between September 17 and 24)
Traditional categories (Macro, Wide Angle, Behavior, Cold Water, Video Raw, Video Edited) $10.00 per image or video $15.00 per image or video
Photo Essay $30.00 per entry (includes up to 4 images) $45.00 per entry (includes up to 4 images)
Open $20.00 per image $30.00 per image

All fees are in U.S. dollars. Foreign drafts are NOT acceptable. Payment may be made via Paypal or check (more instructions are included on the submission forms.

General Conditions of Entry

Permission to reproduce any entry for the promotional purposes of the Underwater Photographic Society will be assumed. No reproduction fee will be paid.

Entries sent via mail must be sent prepaid. Videos and digital media will NOT be returned, do not send master copies of your images or videos.

The International Committee and judges reserve the right to disqualify an entrant and/or image that are deemed to violate the spirit of the competition.

Eligible Photographers

This competition is open to all amateur photographers and/or videographers in the traditional categories and to both professional and amateur photographers in the Open category. The International Committee reserves the right to determine the level of an industry professional. If an entry is deemed to be from a professional, that entry will be moved to the Open Category upon receipt of the additional entry fee. No videos from professional videographers will be accepted.

Eligible Images/Videos

Previous Best of Show or first through third placed award winning entries from this or any other major competition, and previously published images are ineligible, as are images derived from the same original. The same image, or any derivative thereof, cannot be entered in more than one category.

The entrant must have taken each entry, underwater while swimming in natural environments, unless noted otherwise. No pool, aquarium or pole-cam shots are allowed.

The International Committee has the right to determine if an entry has been submitted in the correct category. If an incorrect category has been entered, the International Committee reserves the right to disqualify or move an entry to the appropriate category.

Conservation Rules

Marine life should never be stressed or endangered for the sake of a photo. A panel of conservation judges will first screen entries. Entries exhibiting the following behavior will be disqualified.

  1. Divers visibly damaging (e.g. gear dragging or kicking up sand) the environment.
  2. Animals with signs of stress (e.g. puffed puffers, inking octopus).
  3. Animals moved to an unnatural environment or risky location (including bottom dwellers moved or driven up into the water column and land images in the water). Please don't enter pictures of nudibranchs on backgrounds where they don't naturally belong, or spiny devilfish in a sunball or pigs swimming in the water.
  4. Animals being fed artificial food from divers. The only exception to this rule is shark feeding. Sadly, the global shark fin fishery has made spontaneous interactions with sharks extremely rare. In order to help present the majesty of sharks, photographs obtained while feeding sharks will be allowed.
  5. Marine life being touched (e.g. coral polyps, seahorse tails).
  6. Divers exhibiting poor buoyancy control.


No refund will be given for ineligible entries.

In the event that an award winning entry is later found to have violated any rule, it will be disqualified, and the International Committee reserves the right to recall prizes or request reimbursement of fair market value if non-refundable prize. If an original image is requested for review, the entrant has 2 weeks to comply or the entry may be disqualified.

Still Images

All still image entries must be in digital format. No slides or prints will be accepted. Digital files may be created from scanned film.

No image manipulation is allowed, other than the type of full-frame manipulations which happen during the computer processing of raw images, the creation of in-camera JPEGs, or the scanning of slides or negatives. These include minor full-frame changes to white balance, brightness, contrast, color, saturation, and sharpening.

In addition, minor traditional darkroom style manipulations are allowed, including cropping, B&W conversion, and dodging and burning with large, basic brushes. Complex manipulations requiring masks, advanced elements like the healing tool or clone tool, and precise brushes are not allowed. Burning simple backscatter out of a black background with a coarse brush is allowable; precisely healing backscatter in a complex background is not. This is not a Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture contest. The committee or the judges can reject any notably manipulated photos, and raw files may be requested for confirmation. If your camera does not take raw format photos, then the original JPEG can be requested. Failure to supply the unedited images is grounds for disqualitifiaction.

The entrant must have done any and all manipulation.

Digital entries must be no smaller than 1024x768 pixels and no larger than 3072x2304 pixels. Entries must be JPEG format and Adobe 1998 color space is suggested.


Please submit your video as a high resolution H.264 files that has been archived (copied) to a data DVD disc. (Note: this is NOT a self-playing DVD! This is NOT a Blu-Ray Disk! This is NOT an HD-DVD Disk!)

Almost every video editing program in use today has a way to export a high quality H.264 encoding of a video from that program. There are also a number of stand-alone video encoding programs that you can use.

Please make sure that the resulting video file can be archived to a single data DVD disc. This means that your H.264 encoded file needs to be less than 4.3 GB total. Only single-sided, single-layered DVDs may be submitted.

For this year's competition, we will still accept miniDV tapes (NTSC) if you are unable to create a H.264 file.

For the purposes of this competition, music rights acquisition remain the sole responsibility of filmmaker.

Additional formating instructions: Read carefully - improperly formated tapes may not be judged.

Labeling instructions:


Open: The open category is open to all photographers, amateur and professional. The entry can be macro, wide-angle, behavior or cold water, but no photo essays and no pool or aquarium shots will be allowed. Only a single prize in the open category will be awarded.

Macro: A view of a subject 1:6 or smaller – a maximum life size of 8x5 inches.

Wide Angle: All non-macro images. Includes close-focus wide angle and split above/below water images.

Behavior: Either macro or wide angle images taken of animal behavior.

Cold Water: Images taken in green or temperate water, such as the ocean off the West coast of North America from California to Alaska, the Great Lakes, and Northern Europe.

Photo Essay: Up to 4 images telling a cohesive, underwater-related story. At least 2 images must be underwater images (examples: dive site location, environment, animal lifecycle, dive trip).

Video Raw Footage: Continuous unedited single underwater scene not to exceed 40 seconds. The entrant must have taken all of the footage underwater. Adding titles, music or sound effects will disqualify the entry from the VIDEO RAW FOOTAGE category. Color correction, brightness and contrast adjustments are allowed. Footage entered in this category is not eligible to be entered in the Edited category.

Video Edited: Videos shall be less than 5 minutes in length. At least 80% of the footage, exclusive of titles and credits, must have been taken underwater. Entry must be shot and edited by entrant. Video titling must not include entrant's name. For the purposes of this competition, music rights acquisition remains the sole responsibility of filmmaker. Footage entered in this category is not eligible to be entered in the Raw category.

Submission of Entries

Still entries may be submitted via the submission form on the LAUPS International Competition page at:

Video entries, which must be on DVD or miniDV tape, may not be submitted electronically and must be submitted by mail to:

LAUPS Competition
P.O. Box 2401
Culver City, CA 90231

All entries must be received by September 17th, 2011.

Payment Instructions

Payment of entry fees can be made by PayPal to or through the PayPal link when you complete your entry form. You may also mail a check to:

LAUPS Competition
P.O. Box 2401
Culver City, CA 90231

Good luck in the competition!

For inquires E-mail: