The Digital Shootout saw its best turnout yet, with 91 participants showing up to the instructional workshop and photo competition on Little Cayman this year.
The sold-out 18th annual Digital Shootout, which wrapped up at the end of June, was extra special considering there were more female participants than ever, and 16 of the 29 contest winners were women.
As a woman who has participated in the event twice, this is very exciting news. The Digital Shootout, sponsored by Backscatter Underwater Video and Photo, is a great combination of fun, hands-on learning and excellent diving with like-minded photographers and divers. The event rotates between three prime Caribbean diving hotspots—Coco View in Roatan, Divi Flamingo Bonaire and Little Cayman Beach Resort, where this year’s event took place.
Among this year’s participants were expert staff members ranging from professional underwater photographers like Joel and Jennifer Penner to Adobe Lightroom masters like Scuba Diving columnist Erin Quigley. The owner and founder of Backscatter Underwater Video and Photo, Berkley White, lent his expertise as well.
"This was my favorite Shootout year so far," said Backscatter media manager Robin Dodd. "It was really amazing to see the amount of people who embraced video and took the time to learn how to edit video and put together a really cool story."
The event itself has evolved from a one-week photo workshop and competition to a two-week event that allows eager participants to arrive a week early (dubbed pre-week) to receive more one-on-one instruction in an even more casual setting. Each night during the week, participants have the opportunity to submit images to be critiqued by the staff on a giant screen on the pool deck of Little Cayman Beach Resort. This nightly routine is fun and interactive and gives participants a chance to hone in on their skills before submitting their final images on the morning of the last day, to be judged for the contest. This year's judging panel included: Berkley White, Hergen Spalink, Erin Quigley, Joel Penner, Jen Penner, Brett Kotheimer, Cristian Dimitrius, and Dan Baldocchi.
Scroll down to see some of the winning images from the 2019 Digital Shootout
By participating for the full two weeks, divers have the flexibility to dive more during the first week so that they never miss a classroom session during the main event week. One of the unique features of the event is that it gives underwater photographers the option to tailor it to their specific needs. If you want to skip an afternoon classroom session to spend one-on-one time with Quigley in the “creative cave,” that is totally up to you. If you’d rather dive than participate in either of those activities, no one is going to fault you. The event provides a well-thought-out structure, but at the end of the day, the week—or weeks—is yours.
Sure, it’s possible to get paired with a professional underwater photographer on an ordinary dive trip, but at the Digital Shootout it’s almost guaranteed. One of my favorite memories from attending the Digital Shootout was getting to dive with several professional underwater photographers. It made it easy to watch them set up shots, and I received direction and suggestions underwater for changing my camera settings to get the best image.
Starting in 2020, the contest portion of the event will be live for both weeks, so any images captured during the 14 diving days is eligible for submission to the “shootout” portion of the event.
For full event coverage and details on the 2020 Digital Shootout in Bonaire, visit thedigitalshootout.com.
SEE THE WINNING IMAGES BELOW
JIM WATT AWARD (Best in Show)
MACRO TRADITIONAL - FIRST PLACE
MACRO UNRESTRICTED - FIRST PLACE
POINT-AND-SHOOT - FIRST PLACE
WIDE-ANGLE TRADITIONAL - FIRST PLACE
WIDE-ANGLE UNRESTRICTED - FIRST PLACE