THE ANNUAL BEGINNERS PORTFOLIO Competition, organised by the British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP), is held each November and is open to members and non-members alike, provided they have not come first, second or third in a major national or international competition.
The objective is to identify photographers who can demonstrate a range of skills. The portfolio should communicate variety, not necessarily of subject, but certainly of approach and technique.
It has to comprise six images, set out in two rows of three with no overlap. Each image may, or may not, have a border.
This year’s winner was Sue Guess from West Sussex, married with two adult sons. Sue studied fashion design and worked in the industry for a few years before having children. Soft furnishing then allowed her to work from home, although she took 10 years out from that career to work in relocation.
“I started diving, reluctantly, in 1999, to fulfil a rash promise to our younger son that I would learn with him when he turned 12, as my husband Martyn had when our elder son was old enough to learn,” says Sue.
“We did our PADI Open Water in Sharm, and to date I’ve dived only in warm water. There was a one-off dive in the Med that was about 16°, but never again.”
Sue and Martyn have since dived in Menorca, the Caribbean, the Maldives, Indonesia, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.
“As an antidote to boredom while Martyn took his thousands of shots, I bought a compact camera and housing with the idea of taking video, which I enjoyed, but I found the editing somewhat tedious,” says Sue.
“Eventually in June 2012 I had my first trip with my Sony, which has brought me to winning this competition.
“Having been on many Martin Edge trips, and living with Martyn and his enthusiasm and expertise, I had a headstart with underwater photography – the theory at least – and have enjoyed learning a new skill.”
BSoUP is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. Members meet at Imperial College, South Kensington, London, on the third Wednesday of every month for a programme that includes illustrated talks and competitions. Newcomers are welcome,

Mating octopus (“unfortunately the mate is out of shot”), Barge wreck, Red Sea: ‘His relaxed state allowed me to take far more shots than an octopus will usually permit before moving on.’
(Sony NEX5N, 30mm macro lens, 1/125 f14)

Split-shot, Ras Kati, Red Sea: ‘Towards the end of the trip and feeling like a snorkel rather than a dive, the shallow-reef at Ras Kati and Whirlwind moored up for the night gave a good opportunity to try taking a split shot, to prove to the sceptics that it can be done with a very small dome.’ (Sony NEX5N, E2.8/16 wide-angle lens, 1/60 f18).

Wreck, Tubbataha reef, Philippines: ‘I’m not usually a wreck fan, but this one was very decayed and so gave some interesting shapes against the light in the shallow water. After many years of modelling for Martyn, he was happy to swim into my shot and be on the receiving end of my gesticulations.’ (Sony NEX5N, wide-angle lens, 1/160 f13)

Nemos, North Sulawesi, Indonesia: ‘I had a flood in my housing, so had to use whichever camera and lens Martyn didn’t want! Probably essential subject matter for this portfolio.’ (Nikon D800, 105 lens, 1/320 f22)

Dusk shot, Tubbataha reef shallows, Philippines: ‘I found the dramatic coral formation first and then waited for the sun to drop to the optimum height to give the rays without burning out.’ (Sony NEX5N, wide-angle lens, 1/125 f9)

Coleman shrimps, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. ‘The urchins were at about 25m and the shrimps seemed to be on every one, so there was plenty of choice to find them well-positioned for the shot.’ (Sony NEX5N, standard 18-55 lens, 1/125 f22)

All images were taken using Nauticam housings.