Ocean News

2023 Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant Winners

11th December 2023

We are thrilled to announce our two winners for the Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant 2023. Congratulations to Nicholas Hahn and Pier Nirandara! The judges felt that these candidates were able to tell compelling stories through their lenses, balancing a natural history eye with artistic lyricism. We are excited to follow their journey, and support their growing talent, as they contribute to the field of ocean conservation.

Special mention should be made of the five photographers who made it to our top seven selection: Frida Jonguitud, Jules Jacobs, Russell Laman, Sage Ono and Shatabdi Chakrabarti. Their hard work and commitment to changing the world merit serious applause.

The winners will receive the following:


  • Each winner will be given a paid three-week photographic assignment to document an SOSF-supported marine research or conservation project. The SOSF has funded more than 480 projects in more than 90 countries and the winning photographers will be assigned to tell one of these stories.
  • Thomas Peschak, National Geographic Magazine photographer and Director of Storytelling for the Save Our Seas Foundation, Kathy Moran, former senior editor (natural history) of National Geographic Magazine and Jennifer Samuel, photo editor at the Washington Post, will mentor photographers throughout the process.
  • All winners will be given the chance to showcase their work at an international conference or an exhibition, with travel expenses included.
  • Each winner’s story will also be published as a photo essay for Save Our Seas Foundation.
  • A 2,000 USD cash prize

Striking photography that also weaves a narrative can really change how people see the world around them – both Nicholas and Pier displayed incredible talent in their applications and we’re really excited to work with them on connecting people to engaging shark and ray conservation stories.

–       Dr James Lea, CEO of the Save Our Seas Foundation

Nicolas Hahn



Nicholas’s goal is to tell stories that nurture empathy and empowerment. He believes that, in the face of the urgent climate crisis, mainstream media often falls short in providing stories that inform us, establish connections, empower us, and foster collective care for one another and our planet. He firmly believes that in this era, independent media plays an important role in rebalancing the recognition and attention given to voices that have been ignored for too long. Indigenous communities and other natural stewards have, he believes, been marginalized by the Western world and overshadowed by globalist agendas. His mission is to use his camera as an amplifier, giving voice to those who are the true protectors of nature, especially when their message is more urgent than ever before.

Nicholas’s photographs instil a fresh perspective on frequently covered subjects such as Baja’s mobula ray aggregations, and many of his images beautifully transcend the boundary between photojournalism and fine art.

–       Thomas Peschak, National Geographic Photographer & Save Our Seas Foundation Director of Storytelling

Nicholas’s portfolio was a breath of fresh air because he brings such a beautiful variety of perspectives on ocean life.

–       Jennifer Samuel, photo editor at The Washington Post

Photographer Nicolas Hahn makes underwater images full of colour, energy, and a surprising mix of species. His drive to mix photographs that celebrate nature with topside work that speaks to the need for marine conservation was a winning combination.

–       Kathy Moran, former senior editor (natural history) of National Geographic Magazine

Pier Nirandara


Pier is determined to create, represent, and showcase more diversity in environmental journalism and marine spaces. From “fresh off the boat” to “Black people can’t swim,” she knows that people of colour are often excluded from marine narratives. But disenfranchised groups are the most at risk from climate change, so Pier believes it begins with representation—reclaiming marine spaces from the past for the future. We can’t care about what we don’t know, and where we don’t feel like we belong, she says. Pier believes that stories can elevate messaging. Empathy, awe, horror—these are all important emotions, and can be used as catalysts for change. A well-told story, she believes, elevates this work beyond the ordinary, inspiring action towards social good to leave this pale blue dot we call home better than the last.

Pier’s thoughtful and nuanced approach to storytelling stands out and some of her images from the sardine run really capture the raw energy and fury of this marine wildlife spectacle.

–       Thomas Peschak, National Geographic Photographer & Save Our Seas Foundation Director of Storytelling

Between Pier’s painterly compositions and the perspective she brings as a Thai photographer, her portfolio really stood out.

–       Jennifer Samuel, photo editor at The Washington Post

What struck me in reviewing Pier Nirandara’s portfolio was her strong sense of narrative, how every image worked in tandem to tell the larger story. This is someone who is growing as a photographer but is clearly a talented storyteller.

–       Kathy Moran, former senior editor (natural history) of National Geographic Magazine


The Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant builds on the legacy of our previous Marine Conservation Photography Grant and is dedicated to finding and supporting a new and diverse generation of conservation storytellers. While we look specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the grant is not limited to underwater photography. It is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran (formerly National Geographic) and Jennifer Samuel from The Washington Post.