Bluebelt Photo Contest Captures Laguna’s Natural Wonders

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Photographer Gregg Howe took first place in the amateur category of the 2019 Bluebelt Photo Contest with “Colorful Crab.” Photo courtesy of Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

The Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, dedicated to working together for the restoration of Laguna Beach’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), recently announced the winners of its 8th annual Bluebelt Photo Contest.

The contest focuses attention on Laguna’s sea life and ocean waters to educate and gain public support for their restoration and protection. Judging the 2019 contest were local photographer and Indy contributor Mitch Ridder, National Geographic photographerTom Lamb, and Festival of Arts CuratorPat Sparkuhl.

The winners were recognized in two categories: professional and amateur. The two first-place photos will be on exhibit at The Ranch at Laguna Beach from April 1-15.

Professional winners were—First Place: Brian Crawford “Dip Vic,” Second Place: Cliff Wassmann “Storms of 2019,”Third Place: Michael Couffer “Garibaldi off Crescent Bay,” and Honorable Mentions: Gary Mills “Friday Night Lights” and Hugh Foster “Ploger.”

Amateur winners were—First Place: Gregg Howe “Colorful Crab,” Second Place: Brandon Roth “Magic Hour at Pirate Tower,” Third Place: Josh Tanaka “Double Vision,” and Honorable Mentions: Stephen Wertz “Lunch,” Brian Huffer “Confine,” andBryan Greenberg “Drift Would.”

Photographer Brian Crawford took first place in the professional category of the Bluebelt Photo Contest with “Dip Vic.” Photo courtesy of Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

Choosing the images to acknowledge in this year’s contest was both fun and challenging due to the variety of images entered,” Ridder said. “Whether from the beach, on the rocks, riding across the face of a wave, from under the ocean or from high above it, all our entrants showed Laguna’s Bluebelt in so many diverse ways.”

Photographer Cliff Wassmann took second place in the professional category of the Bluebelt Photo Contest with “Storms of 2019.” Photo courtesy of Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

As Laguna Beach becomes an ever-increasing popular destination, the concern for the fragility of the ocean environments around us is more significant than ever before,” Sparkuhl said. “This year’s Laguna Bluebelt Coalition 2019 Photo Contest illustrates that both amateur and professional photographers alike can successfully inspire us through their sensitive examinations of the beauty and vulnerability of this precious resource.”

Lamb said he was impressed by this year’s submissions, specifically with the scope of vision from above and below the water.

Fish, waves, forces of nature and interpretation of color are represented in what we selected as the outstanding imagery,” Lamb said. “The balance we face with man’s ever presence on our precious resources was not reflected with the images presented—the photographers stepped beyond the plastic and pollution endangering our oceans, avoiding the bigger challenges we face ahead—instead giving hope and beauty to this delicate blue landscape.”

Laguna Bluebelt thanked the contest participants, the community and its sponsors for their ongoing support and commitment to the protection and restoration of marine life. Sponsors include: The Ranch at Laguna Beach & Harvest Restaurant, Surf & Sand Resort, La Sirena Grill, and Massage Envy Laguna Beach.

Photographer Brandon Roth took second place in the amateur category of the Bluebelt Photo Contest with “Magic Hour at Pirate Tower.” Photo courtesy of Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

To view all of the winners, visit lagunabluebelt.orgor find this story on Check out all 60 photo entries for this year’s contest on the Laguna Bluebelt Facebookpage.

For more information about the Bluebelt Coalition,

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