Local AP Biology teacher and acclaimed underwater photographer, Renee Capozzola, has just been named the “Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021” by the Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY) competition. Considered the world’s most prestigious international underwater photography contest, UPY bestows this yearly honor on a single image that their judges feel is “Best in Show.”
Sharks’ Skylight, Renee’s award-winning piece, was chosen as the winner from over 4,500 entries sent in from 68 countries. Her stunning image, shot in French Polynesia, features an underwater scene of noble and imposing blacktip reef sharks, contrasted with the calm sorbet hues of the above-water sunset.
“I am beyond proud to be the first female photographer to win this award and I’m hoping my photo will help build awareness of how endangered sharks are throughout the world,” remarks Renee. “It is estimated that 70-100 million sharks are killed every year, and without added legal protection, they may soon disappear completely, which would create complex issues in our marine ecosystem.”
Alex Mustard, UPY’s head judge and former marine biologist (who is regarded as one of the world’s leading underwater photographers), further commented on Renee’s piece: “This is a photograph of hope, a glimpse of how the ocean can be when we give it a chance. Renee not only persevered until this serendipitous scene unfolded, but more importantly, she has the talent to capture such a precise moment.”
Renee Capozzola – A California native, Renee Capozzola has taught AP Biology at Palos Verdes High School for almost 20 years. She became a certified scuba diver in 2004 and was immediately fascinated by the beautiful reefs and marine animals she encountered. Quickly realizing that she wanted to share the underwater world with others, Renee grabbed a camera and began shooting. Specializing in wide angle and split-level images, the award winner’s work (awarded in over 40 international accolades), showcases an intriguing combination of artistic talent honed through oil painting during her youth and a professional background in science. Renee believes that her striking photographs can help increase awareness of our fragile marine ecosystems and encourage others to help protect our oceans. beneaththesurfaceimaging.com
2021 winners / Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021: Find below a wonderful collection of winners from this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year competition. Once again it is an incredible selection of underwater photography from muddy ponds and swimming pools to deep underground and out into the open ocean.