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Michael AW

Fellow Explorer Club NY –
Fellow International League of Underwater Photographers –

Pursuing the art form of documentary photography, Michael AW is well known for his saturated colour imagery. His work on environmental issues, wildlife and eco-travel, besides earning him more than 61 international awards: Outdoor Photography named Michael AW as one of the world’s most influential nature photographer in 2010. His essays and images have been featured in BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Times, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus etc. In March 2012, Michael AW was awarded the medal of excellence and named Diver of the Year for Arts, at the 36th Beneath the Sea Show in New Jersey, USA. Past recipients of this distinguished award included David Doubilet, Emory Kristof, Stan Waterman, Phil Nyutten, Ernie Brooks, and Dr Sylvia Earle.

In 2010, Michael won the prestigious Gold Diver award for the highly contested Portfolio category at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France. This is the first time an Asian has won this category. In 2011, Michael was a judge for the BBC Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition – the world’s most prestigious nature photographic competition.

His book “Philippines - Heart of the Ocean”, was awarded the Palme D’or at the world FESTIVAL MONDIAL DE Images Sous Marine in France 2009. He is now a five-time Palme D’or winner at the world's biggest underwater imagery competition (now in its 38th year). He is also a recipient of three awards from the Natural History Museum BBC Photographer of the Year Wildlife Competition in 2000, 2010 and in 2006 he won the Best Winner award in the underwater category.

In 2008, Stan Waterman conferred Michael with the Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award by Sharks Research Institute in recognition of his highly-effective and unrelenting campaign against shark fin soup consumption in the Asia Pacific region. Michael is also a recipient of the prestigious WYLAND ICON award for Conservation.

“Beneath Bunaken”(1993) was his first and “Indonesia’s Global Treasures 2012 is his 29th book of the sea. Michael remains today, an active member of the Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and the Fellow International of The Explorer Club NY. Fellow members include Sir Edmund Hillary, Roald Amundsen , Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, David Doubilet, Emory Kristof, to name a few.

Michael is also project director of the Elysium Epic imagery expedition with 57 team members comprising the world’s best image makers and scientists, to document the flora and fauna for a movie and climate change index from the Antarctic Peninsula to South Georgia, following in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 Trans Antarctic Expedition. ( Michael AW is the founder of OceanNEnvironment, a charity organization registered with Environment Australia. Michael AW also founded Asian Geographic magazine in 1998.

In 1998 Michael co-founded Asian Geographic with good friend Christopher Lee; he managed the title as publisher till 2005. In 2001, he acquired Scuba Diver Australasia for Asian Geographic and successfully revamped the title to become the PADI Diving Society magazine in 2004. Today Asian Geographic and Scuba Diver SDAA are the most acclaimed periodicals in the Asia Pacific.

In 2002, with the launch of his book, he founded the first Celebrate the Sea Festival in Singapore. His vision was to inspire nations and countries to take a day each year to celebrate the sea. In September 2007, he lobbied to Usec Cynthia Carrion and in March 2008, he wrote officially to Her Excellency Gloria Arroyo, President of the Republic of Philippines. On 13 May 2008, President Arroyo made an official proclamation declaring June as Celebrate the Sea month and every 2nd Saturday of June as Celebrate the Sea day. This was his personal milestone and he wished to make Celebrate the Sea a global event. In 2011, Celebrate the Sea celebrated its 10th Anniversary in Manado, Indonesia with over 3,000 entries in the children’s art competition and nearly 1,000 entries for the international underwater imaging competitions.

In 2007, Michael garnered some of the world’s most celebrated underwater photographers, film makers, scientists to be on board his dream journal Ocean Geographic. The current editorial board now comprised of Dr Gerry Allen, Dr Carden Wallace, Emory Kristof, Stan Waterman, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes, Cabel Davis, Laurent Ballesta, Doug Perrine, Howard and Michelle Hall, Alex Mustard and Wyland. Today, Ocean Geographic is the one of the world’s most inspiring journal of the sea.

In 2004, Michael AW collaborated with good friend Mathieu Meur to produce the “Essential Guide to Digital Underwater Photography”. The Advanced edition was launch in 2007. This year they are working on the 4th edition; since the first edition the title is a best seller, adopted by many photographic instructors as their ‘Bible’ for underwater photography instructions. In 2007, Michael & Mathieu conducted the first Essential Digital Underwater Photography workshop in Bali; in December 2011 they conducted their 8th workshops and the many international awards won by past graduates attest to the success of their program.

2011 July – Michael AW initiated the 1000KidsOneMessage campaign in Hong Kong. With the support of his associate Dr Elizabeth Quat, 1000 children convened at Cyber Port on 9 July, to make the “I am the Future, I won’t eat Shark fins” pledge. Dr Sylvia Earle, David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes were on site to support the initiative. In 2012, Michael AW intends to stage the same event in Singapore.

Major Awards
1985 THE GONG GOLD AWARD – TV Commercial “That’s Life” Singapore
1989 Best of Show, Malayan Nature Society Underwater Photo Competition
1989 First Place Best Picture - Photographer of the Year, Malayan Nature Society
1990 2nd Place, Wide Angle, Flores International Underwater Photographic Competition
1991 2nd runner-up, Animal Life, Flores International Underwater Photographic Competition
1992 Finalist, Sportdiving Magazine, "Ultimate Photographic" Competition
1992 3rd Place, Close Up, New Zealand Ocean Society International Photographic Competition
1992 Highest Commendation, Antibes Festival, France International Photographic Festival
1993 Honorable Mentioned and Bronze Medallion, Nikon International Photographic Competition
1993 3rd Place - Top Side, New Zealand Ocean Society Underwater Photographic Competition.
1994 Silver, Marine Animal Life, OCEAN SOCIETY Photographic Competition, New Zealand
1994 Highest Commendation, Aquatic Seascapes, OCEAN SOCIETY Photographic Competition, NZ.
1994 First Place, Close Up, 32nd International Underwater Photographic Society Competition. USA
1995 Highest Commendation Awards (Seascapes), Ocean Society NZ
1995 Best Superb Close-Up Award , Nikon International Photographic Contest
1996 People of the Sea - Silver award - Ocean Society NZ
1997 Seascapes - First Place, Ocean Society, NZ
1999 Best Music Adaptation for Music Documentary – World Underwater Film Festival, Antibes
1999 1st Place Open Section Marine Photographic Festival Japan
1999 Silver – Ocean NZ People Underwater
2000 BBC Photographer of the Year Competition - Highest Commendation
2000 Gold Ocean NZ - Marine Life - Static
2000 Silver Ocean NZ - People Underwater
2000 Silver Ocean NZ - Video "Rainbow Sea"
2000 Bronze Ocean NZ - Marine Topside
2001 Nikon International Photographic Competition - Open Section - Highest Commendation
2001 Silver Ocean NZ - Plight of Napoleon Wrasse Video
2005 Gold Diver: B/W Print - 32th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Antibes
2006 Silver Video - Open Category Mediterranean Underwater Film Festival
2006 BBC Natural History Museum - SHELL Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006 competition - Winner: underwater category
2006 Bronze Diver - Portfolio: 33th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Antibes
2008 – recipient of SRI Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award – Media
2008 Silver Diver - Slide Show AV 35th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Antibes
2008 Bronze Diver - Portfolio: 35th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Antibes
2009 Silver Diver – Slide show AV “Wonderful World” 36th World Underwater Pictures Festival
2009 International Book of the Year Palme D’or 36th World Underwater Pictures Festival
2010 BBC Photographer of the Year Competition - High Commendation
2010 Gold Diver: Portfolio - 37th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Marseille
2010 Gold Diver: Diaporama - 37th World Underwater Pictures Festival, Marseille
2010, Recipient of the WYLAND ICON award for Conservation
2012, Merit of Excellence, Diver of the Year – Art: Beneath the Sea NJ

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