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California Ocean & Coastal Amateur Photography Contest

Visit for details on the 2022 contest!

Contest Opens: August 1, 2022
Submission Deadline: September 19, 2022

Sponsored by the California Coastal Commission, Thank You Ocean, Dashe Cellars, Central Coast Outdoors, Discovery Whale Watch, Condor Express, Malibu Wine Hikes, Blue Water Kayaking, Bernardus Vineyards and Winery, Captain Jacks, Princess Monterey Whale Watching, San Dog Kayak Adventures, Newport Landing Whale Watching, Santa Barbara Sailing Center, The Duckhorn Portfolio, Adventures By The Sea, Simply Straws, and San Diego Whale Watching.

Galleries of Past Winners:

2021     |    2019     |    2018     |    2017     |    2016     |    2015     |    2014     |    2013     |    2012     |    2011     |    2010     |    2009     |    2008     |    2007     |    2006     |    2005     |    2004     |    2003     |    2002     |    2001     |    1999     |    1998

Upcoming traveling photo exhibit locations:

San Luis Obispo Public Library, San Luis Obispo (July-September 2022)
Siskiyou County Library (October-December 2022)

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Contest!
See all the winners and honorable mentions

A heron in profile, stands on one foot on top of eelgrass, sunlight shining through its wing feathers

Judges' Choice Winner: Great Blue Heron in Surfgrass, Sands Beach, Santa Barbara
Susan Cook

Rocks peek through the sand in a long view up the beach

Viewers' Choice Winner: Low Tide, Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro
Dianne Gowder

Advice for Taking Pictures

"Here's a central and obvious principle about photography that is sometimes overlooked even by some veteran photographers — that it's about light. Light makes the image. All cameras, whether film-based or digital are wonders of technology but they don't have a clue about subject; they're designed to transmit and register light and a range of its qualities.

It's true that the history of photography is filled with examples in which the subject and not the light is what the viewer's attention is drawn to and many of those images are powerful and memorable. In photojournalism, for example, when the urgency of an event takes precedence over art, the photographer may not have the time or the interest in waiting for the right light. But amongst the most memorable of those images, the ones that put a lump in your throat are those in which the light was a significant and descriptive player. So think about the subject but shoot the light."

  - Malcolm Lubliner, Photographer

Timothy Wong Photo of a photographer

Photo contest entries may be used in Coastal Commission web pages, publications, and products. Past contest photos have been used to produce a set of greeting cards; a screensaver; and coastal access guides.