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MonoVisions Photography Awards 2021: Black & White Photo of the Year 2021 by Kohei Ueno

Japanese photographer Kohei Ueno won the single photo category at MonoVisions Photography Awards 2021. His entry, titled In My Own Bubble, which is an image of Thibault Guignes, one of the French national freediving champions, won the Black & White Photo of the Year 2021,

Competitive Freedivers are often asked why they do what they do. Every freediver will have their own story to tell, but usually it is never about the idea of competing against others to see who can dive deeper, longer, faster or beating others. It is usually a competition where you compete against yourself, and a successful dive is always determined by whether or not you were able to reach the depth that you announced and managed to return back safe. Every Freediver has their own story to tell, their own target to hit, diving inside their own bubble that only they themselves can pop.

This is an image of Thibault Guignes by Kohei Ueno from Japan, one of the French national champions diving to a depth of over 100 meters on one breath of air at the AAS freediving chapionships held in Bali, Indonesia.

I was born in Tokyo, raised in Hokkaido, grew up in Singapore and Australia. I like to freedive, I like to take photos, and I love being underwater. I picked up my first camera after I quit my job at Google and sold my possessions to travel the world with a 40L backpack. When I returned home after a year, one of the photos I took won 1st place at an international photography competition, which enabled me to upgrade my kit, obtain my first ever underwater housing, as well as a trip to Tonga to swim with whales. These chains of fortunate events had reminded me of how much I love the ocean, how much I love being active, and how much I love being creative, the building blocks that naturally led me to exit the corporate world for good and pursue the passion I now have for freediving and photography.”


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