SNAPPED: Hervey Bay-based photographer Michael Smith with his award-winning photograph 'Connection'.
SNAPPED: Hervey Bay-based photographer Michael Smith with his award-winning photograph 'Connection'. Alistair Brightman

Bay photographer's emotional capture wins world recognition

THE raw emotional connection of a mother's love jumps out from the print of a top Hervey Bay photographer's award-winning piece.

Featuring a humpback whale mother and calf in Tahiti, photographed at the very moment they touched noses, Michael Smith's latest entry into the Australian Professional Photography awards has impressed judges world wide.

After receiving a gold distinction, the professional snapper of more-than-a-decade's highest accolade to date, the photograph was picked to represent Australia in the World Photography Cup.

It went on to place second in its category and to be one of the seven pieces which contributes to Australia's overall win out of the 32 countries involved.

"For the photography industry in Australia and for international recognition it is pretty huge," Mr Smith said.

"It has just been a buzz to be a part of it."

Mr Smith, a former wedding photographer turned nature enthusiast, only began photographing marine life in 2016, using an underwater housing for his Cannon DSLR.

The 39-year-old was running an underwater photography class at the time he captured the amazing photo in 2017.

"For this picture I am only a metre or two below the surface, the whales were about 25 metres below the surface," he said.

"I knew that I had witnessed an interaction which was super special.

"I came up out of the water super excited, I didn't know how well the image would present, shooting in the open ocean in 25m of water there are a lot of factors contributing to a nice clean image, but once I looked at it on the computer I thought this was a really special one."

Mr Smith is into his third year of owning and operating his photography store Into the Wild on the Esplanade in Torquay.

"In a world of Photoshop, the essence of photography is it has to start with a strong captured image in camera," he said.

"A lot of what I do and a lot of what photographers do in Photoshop now is not that different to what happened in the darkroom back in the day.

"Tonal adjustments and colour adjustments and things like that, can be part of the artistic process and this image is actually a monochrome image, essentially a black and white and that has been printed with a blue tint to give it that little bit of ocean feeling to it."