2021 Judging Panel



Senior Fellow, International League of Conservation Photographers.

Jürgen Freund’s aim as a wildlife photographer is to shoot pictures that tell stories which matter. A mechanical engineer by training, he started his career as an industrial photographer in Germany, acquired an underwater camera, went scuba-diving in the alpine lakes and then discovered the marine environment.

Since 1982, he has done underwater and nature photography, making much of his own equipment to suit his needs. Jürgen’s work, on land and underwater, has been widely published all over the world. He has had solo exhibitions and has been a prize-winner in international competitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.  Fast forward to 2019 and Jürgen was a judge for the British Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year!

In partnership with his wife Stella, a producer, he works closely with WWF, which uses his photographs in many of its conservation campaigns. For 18 straight months, he and Stella travelled the Asia-Pacific region of the Coral Triangle, photographing the richness of this hotspot of marine biodiversity on behalf of WWF, which resulted in the coffee table book The Coral Triangle.



United Kingdom

Rachael Talibart is a professional photographer specialising in the coast. Based in the UK, she is best known for her Sirens portfolio, critically acclaimed photographs of stormy seas named after mythical beings.

Rachael is the author of 3 photo books and her photographs are frequently published in print and online magazines. Her work has been exhibited widely and she is represented by galleries in Europe and the USA. She is owner of f11 Workshops, providing photography workshops in the South of England and she leads international photography tours for Ocean Capture.

An experienced public speaker, Rachael writes for photography magazines and has been the recipient of numerous photography awards, including Black and White Photographer of the Year.



South Korea

Accomplished Art Director, Commercial Photographer, National Geographic underwater photographer and Asia’s first female side mount cave diver, Y Zin Kim has truly broken the mould in Korea.

When on land, you’ll find Y Zin working on high profile, superb quality advertising campaigns for movies, posters, soap operas and magazines. But looking below the ocean’s surface, there’s much more to discover. Y Zin’s success in the world’s first sidemount trimix 101m depth challenge in 2015 launched her into the record books, where she is now a world recorder holder.  In fact, she leads the female CCR tech diving field with the Instructor Trainer title from the American diving professional education organization TDI, also contributing to the organisation’s diving training materials.

Active visually and vocally with underwater projects close to her heart, currently Y Zin presents her insight and images of Hae Nyeo Culture at speaking events around the world. From the stage, she brings the Jeju Island Hae Nyeo ladies from Korea’s East Sea to life, sharing stories of these hardy sea women, their harvesting and cultural traditions.

Multi award winning photographer, artist, author and mentor, Y Zin brings the experience of multi-talented artist to the Underwater Tour Awards judging Panel.




Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Alex is an ocean lover who developed a passion for photography. At 21 years of age, he completed university studies in Marine Biology in Victoria. He worked on the Great Barrier Reef where he first learned to take photos above and below the water with a basic compact camera. Five years on, he is now based in Western Australia, pursuing his dream. 

The majority of work is taken whilst freediving, a technique that he is continually developing. Alex creates a variety of photo and video work for different clients including brands and tourism organisations.

Over the years he has had his work featured in publications including Dive Magazine UK, The Times London, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Star, The Herald Sun, The West Australian, UNILAD, LadBible and MyLombok Magazine.

“I’m on a mission to showcase the beauty of our oceans in the hope that we can all do our best to protect and preserve.”


Head of Ethical Standards Review


United Kingdom

DR RICHARD SMITH, a British award-winning underwater photographer, author and marine conservationist, aspires to promote an appreciation for the ocean’s inhabitants and raise awareness of marine conservation issues through his images. A marine biologist by training, Richard’s pioneering research on the biology and conservation of pygmy seahorses, led to the first PhD on these enigmatic fishes. Richard is a member of the IUCN Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group. He has named the two most recent pygmy seahorse discoveries from Japan, Hippocampus japapigu, and South Africa, H. nalu. Richard organizes and leads marine life expeditions where the aim is for participants to get more from their diving and photography by learning about the marine environment. His bestselling book, ‘The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs’ is out now.


Learn about the Ethical Standrads Review process