Photo taken under Swanage Pier nets diver top award

A Swanage photographer has won a top international award for his underwater picture taken beneath Swanage Pier.

Paul Pettit has been awarded ‘Most promising British underwater photographer ‘ by the Underwater Photographer of the Year Awards 2022, with his picture of a sea gooseberry. His wife Alison was also recognised by the judges.

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Sea gooseberry under Swanage Pier
Paul Pettitt

Award winning photo – a sea gooseberry taken by Paul Pettitt under Swanage Pier – the bright colours from rust and weed on a metal beam

International competition

The Underwater Photographer of the Year awards attract international submissions. Paul was chosen from among hundreds of professional photographers. He was also commended in the ‘Living together’ category with another photo taken under Swanage Pier of a bait ball of fish.

Alison Pettit also entered photos into the ‘Living together’ category – one of these of a tompot blenney living in a rusty pipe won third prize and another photo of a crab living with an anemone was highly commended.

Paul and Alison Pettitt
Alison Pettitt

Paul and Alison Pettitt at Swanage Pier

Previous success

Both Paul and Alison have entered this competition in the past. In 2019, Paul’s picture of a sea hare was runner up in ‘British Waters Macro’ category.

Paul has also had success with his pictures in the British Wildlife Photography awards, most notably being the overall winner of the English Coastline category with a picture he took at Kimmeridge.

Bait Ball under Swanage pier
Paul Pettitt

Bait ball photographed by Paul Pettitt under Swanage Pier was commended by judges

Couple live in Swanage

Paul runs his own business providing landlord services while Alison works for a software company as the chief financial officer.

The couple have owned a house in the area for the last seven years and moved to the town permanently three years ago.

Alison Pettitt
Paul Pettitt

Alison Pettitt diving by the pier

“A particularly good dive site”

The successful photos were all taken under the pier throughout the summer of 2021. The couple specialise in photographing the Dorset underwater world between Swanage and Portland Bill.

Paul said:

“Swanage Pier is a particularly good dive site as it is easy to access with the underwater cameras and has lots of colourful marine life. In addition, the pier provides interesting lighting and structure which adds a depth and texture to a photograph.”

Tompot Blenney in Rusty Pipe
Alison Pettitt

Tompot blenney in a rusty pipe captured by Alison Pettitt won third prize in its category

Married for 17 years

The couple, who have been married for 17 years, met in a pub two months before Alison was due to take a nine-month trip around the world.

Paul said:

“We saw each other for those two months and then she left. We stayed in touch whilst she was away, and the rest is history.”

Crab and Sea Anenome
Alison Pettitt

A crab and a sea anenome ‘living together’ got Alison Pettitt a highly commended

Award ceremony

The couple had both been diving for many years but took up photography to ‘add an extra dimension’ to their hobby.

That extra dimension has certainly uncovered a talent which was recognised at the award ceremony at the Go Diving show in Coventry on Saturday 5th March 2022.

Paul Pettitt photo
Paul Pettitt

British Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 category winner taken under Swanage Pier by Paul Pettitt

“Interesting and amazing”

And the secret to taking a great underwater photo? Both Paul and Alison agree:

“Making a common subject look interesting and amazing.”

Sea Hare
Paul Pettitt

A sea hare taken by Paul Pettitt under Swanage pier was runner up for British Waters Macro in 2019

Spotlight on Swanage

Not only has the couple’s talent been recognised but their series of photos has turned the spotlight onto diving in Swanage which now features alongside top tropical destinations around the world.

Dive near Valentine tank
Paul Pettitt

This photo by Paul Pettitt features one of the sunken D-Day Valentine tanks in Studland Bay and won a third prize in 2019

Watch video of Paul on Swanage Pier

Further information

The other winning entries can be viewed on the Underwater Photographer of the Year website

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