Since the early underwater photography of Louis Boutan, this sport have made spectacular progress. In 1979 the CMAS is organising the first world championship in underwater photography.

First underwater photo

When 1893 the first underwater photo was exposed, the constructing engineer Louis Boutan could not suspect, which role visual display would soon take also under water. Though it took almost 25 years until perfect shots could be exposed, in colour on sheet film, in moving pictures and even in stereo photography. The underwater photography draws the bow from sciences, in biology and archaeology, unto artistically picture of images as valuable reports of the epochs.

Tracking the diving development, it will be detected, that the improvement of the diving technology proceeded parallel. Pioneers like Hans Hass and Jacques-Yves Cousteau did not only develop the world under water optically, but processed the technical progress to the well-being of a sport, which soon spread rapidly all over the world.
For more than 110 years French and German engineers constructed, always concomitantly to the actual development of the construction of the cameras, adventuresome cases made of various materials, to be able to use the valuable photograph technology in the medium water.
The CMAS - Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatique - has been established in 1958 and soon took, as a world federation, the status as the exclusive representative of the diving sport.
Already in 1985 the first CMAS World Championships of Under Water Photography took place in Genoa / Italy, numerous national photography competitions preceded.

If the results over the many years of the top-underwater-photographers are observed, so it is to be detected, that the artistic attitude, represented in the category creative, lost ground to the demonstration of life and of the biological documentation.
It is better like this, because the underwater-photography got generally classified, also from insiders in diving, as damaging to environmental protection. So collecting, killing and rearranging of flora and fauna soon were proscribed and forbidden and persecuted by the CMAS.

For the younger generation of photographers the technique of the special tarred diving was included into the instructions, the oldies have been persuaded by the reconfiguration of the categories and rules, if they wanted to participate on the competitions.
The CMAS developed strict rules to guarantee the security and environmentally responsible behaviour. The categories close up, wide angle and fish were even either specialised with sub-categories "Close-up with theme" or by the arrangement with a diver "wide-angle with diver" made more interesting for the publicity.
The category creative were rearranged into swimming pools, but only once offered as an official CMAS World Championship in Paris. Today only sporadic competitions in this vein are announced, which are always carried out beyond nature.

Close up photography develops a world of biotopes

The fascination of the observation of creatures in close up divisions allowed knowledge about the cohabitation and documented various new animal and plant species.
In the domain of macro and micro photography sensational knowledge were collected which also allows conclusions for development of life over water.
The CMAS forces the task of the categories by complementing a theme which always relates to the special situation of the venue.
So the theme during the World Championships in Bodrum was "Close-up with theme: Sea Urchins / Echinoidea". This species are observable and to be documented multifarious in form and in cohabitation / symbiosis the area around Bodrum. The general and open category "Close-Up" allows the photographer to shoot his discoveries in macro and close division without parameters in photo technology.

Wide-angle photography - the domain of picture creation artists

To record the impression of the observer in a foreign world and dimension, is a tough task, which is outstanding displayed in this category. The golden section in the hymn of the image, to maintain the colours in their original mark and screen the creatures in the right moment, requires a trained eye and sensibility.
The master-category "Wide-angle with diver" involves the human in his measurement as reference to the environment.
What is described as diver / model / assistant in the image in this category, is in fact an universal-talent. These divers, in general pretty female divers, should bring eminent biological skills, be well schooled in photo technology and additionally come with the body control of a photo model. Furthermore everyone shall know "Cher" photographer well, because competition stress demands motivation ability and compensative calmness from the assistant.

The fish-category is in contrast miscellaneous and elementary

So they say - but the opposite seems to be the truth. To take photos of fish asks not only for good biological knowledge, but also for the instinct of a hunter, who exactly knows how his motive behaves and how close he can approach.
This category presumes the luck of the brave. Even more if a certain fish is searched for. The photographer cannot decide how he images his motive in this category. He needs the patience and the exact knowledge about the especialness of this fish and the biotope. Can he look for the fish in open water or does it hide in the riff - at daytime or at nighttime.
So photographers learned that the best premise for good snapshots is the natural curiosity of the animal.
To take one's time and flaunt oneself, then the success is quite certain, then the animal comes to the photographer - eyeball to eyeball are possible like this. Furthermore an experience goes along with every successful shot.
Details of fish-motives are also very in vogue. Typical characteristics are pointed out and recorded in detail. Though the viewer must be able to identify the fish and which detail is illustrated.

Juergen Warnecke
CMAS Visual Commission

CMAS Championships History Visual Commission

  • 1985 1st World Championships Underwater Photo Genua/Italy
  • 2nd World Championships Underwater Photo Costa Brava/ Spain
  • 3rd World Championships Underwater Photo Milazzo/ Italia
  • 4th World Championships Underwater Photo Islas Juventud/ Cuba
  • 25.-30.09.1994 5th World Championships Underwater Photo Jeju/ South Korea
  • 06.-12.10.1996 6th World Championships Underwater Photo Menorca/ Spain
  • 13.-18.09.1998 7th World Championships Underwater Photo Alesund/Norway
  • 10.-15.06.2000 8th World Championships Underwater Photo Hurghada/Egypt
  • 26.-29.08.2002 9th World Championships Underwater Photo Marseille/ France
  • 13.-18.09.2005 10th World Championships Underwater Photo Estartit/Spain
  • 09.-14.05.2007 11th World Championships Underwater Photo Port Louis/ Mauritius
  • 31.05.-05.06.2009 12th World Championships Underwater Photo Jeju/ South Korea
  • 26.-31.05.2011 13th World Championships Underwater Photo Bodrum/ Turkey
  • 28.09.-03.10.2010 1st World Championship Underwater Video Fuerteventura/ Spain
  • 12.- 15.06.1995 1st World Cup Underwater Photo Hurghada/Egypt
  • 08. - 11.05.1997 1st World Championships Underwater Photo Swimming pool - Paris / France
  • 16.09.2001 2nd World Championships Underwater Photo Swimming pool - Copenhagen / Denmark