Israeli diver-photographer Noam Kortler received the prestigious Jean-Louis Galy prize at the renowned World Festival of Underwater Pictures, held last week in France. He’s among four photographers to receive prizes in the still photography category for a portfolio of 10 images. Over the past decade, Kortler has won numerous awards for his stunning sea life photographs.
The World Festival of Underwater Pictures (Festival Mondial de l’Image Sous-Marine) has an artistic, cultural and scientific objective to promote the seas and oceans. It takes place every year in late October or early November in Marseille, France, providing a place of exchange among enthusiasts of the underwater world. Considered the most important competition in the world on underwater films and pictures, the festival hosts professionals from 50 countries every year.
“It’s the Oscars of underwater photography,” Kortler tells NoCamels.
Born and raised by the sea
Kortler was born on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and was diving and surfing throughout his childhood. In 1996, he moved to Eilat, a city on the coast of the Red Sea in Southern Israel. After becoming a diving instructor in 2000, he purchased his first underwater camera and has been shooting photos of sea life ever since.
In 2006, he started his own diving center in Eilat, called Nemo Divers, but that didn’t stop him from taking more amazing photos of Red Sea creatures; he actually started winning photo competitions around the world that year.
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Sometimes it would take him 90 minutes to capture a perfect photo, having to lie still underwater, following his colorful subjects. This year’s winning photos even include those of sharks and whales, which obviously took some courage and patience!
His series of 10 photos submitted to this year’s competition was shot in Eilat as well as around the world. “I waited four years on the waiting list for room on a unique boat that led me to capture that perfect image of whales in the Pacific Ocean,” Kortler tells NoCamels.
Now, Kortler is teaching students how to capture stunning photos of sea life in a program he recently opened in Eilat.