About Dan

About Dan Bolt

Underwater photography is, first and foremost, my hobby. I enjoy immensely the challenges and rewards it provides and it allows me to switch off from my day-job in I.T.

I first learned to dive with Torbay branch of BSAC back in 1987 when I was 13 years old and I have not looked back since. Some years were spent with Brixham SAA/BSAC as well as the branch at my university in Cheltenham. I am now a member of Totnes BSAC.

I started taking an interest in underwater photography when the digital era made it relatively cheap for sport divers to take up the challenge. Since then I have used a stream of Canon, Olympus and Fuji cameras. I had a very happy 9 years with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in an Aquatica AE-M1 housing, but have recently upgraded to an OM Systems OM-1 in an AOI housing. I find that the modern mirrorless systems suit my style of photography perfectly.

Early photographic influences were from my time spent amongst Freedivers at international competitions; Zena Holloway, Fred Buyle and Axel Scholler were the main photographers from whom I took great inspiration for image making.

Latter day influences stem from my both my love for the marine habitat and from the open and friendly family of underwater photographer in the UK. Paul Naylor’s books have been my bibles over many happy years of shooting identification photos, where as Alex Mustard and Peter Rowlands have provided me with technical, artistic, professional, and ethical inspiration and guidance.

Over the past few years I have written a number of articles on diving, snorkelling and marine life in the UK. When-ever asked I contribute images to The Wildlife Trusts and Seasearch free of charge for use in their campaigning for protection for the UK’s coastal waters. More recently my images have been used by the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark and the Marine Conservation Society.

In both 2011 and 2013 I was extremely fortunate in winning the British Underwater Photography Championship / BSoUP Splash-In.

In 2014 I co-authored an electronic book about Nudibranchs of South West England with Terry Griffiths and Bernard Picton. The book is no longer available as many of the scientific names have changed since publication.

I am also delighted to regularly have highly commended images in the BWPA (British Wildlife Photography Awards).

In 2020 I contributed to a new UK diving book titled Wild and Temperate Seas.

I regularly contribute to Underwater Photography Magazine with book/kit reviews, technique discussions and ‘parting shot’ features.

Along with Alex Mustard (and previously Peter Rowlands), I own/run the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition: UPY. In just a few short years this grew to be the most respected and largest underwater photography competition in the world. For my part I design and develop the website, online entry portal, and a back-end competition management system that deals with many thousands (and gigabytes) of images. I also co-ordinate our category sponsors and deal with the international media and am the main administrator for the competition.

Having been excluded from entering the first UPY competition because I am the website developer for UPY; in 2016 I was amazed, but very pleased, to be named as the British Underwater Photographer of the Year. A high accolade indeed and very gratifying to see a UK image holding its own against images takes from all over the globe. Every year since then I have had images placed in the top 10 in the UK categories, most recently having been awarded 3 of the 10 winning Macro images in 2020, 2021 and 2022. In 2022 I won the British Waters Macro category, also claiming the number 2 spot and a Highly Commended too. In 2023 I won the British Waters Living Together category for the second time. In 2024 I had 2 Highly Commended images and one Commended image in the British categories.

I am a member of the Bristol Underwater Photography Group (BUPG), and enjoy their friendly and open approach to taking underwater images and the monthly competitions.

Along with Peter Rowlands, I judged the inaugural Torbay Splash-in in 2017. Since them I have enjoyed being a participant in this fun, well run and inclusive competition:

  • in 2018 I won the Wide Angle category
  • in 2019 I won both Wide Angle and Macro categories. I was as also Runner Up in Wide Angle and won the ‘popular vote’
  • in 2020 I won the Macro category as well as being the Runner Up, and I was Runner Up in the Wide Angle category
  • in 2021 I won the Wide Angle category and was runner up in the Macro category
  • in 2022 I won both Wide Angle and Macro categories. I was also Runner Up in the Macro category as well
  • in 2023... I was unable to attend :(

In 2022 I was a member of the jury for the CMAS European Championships of underwater photography.

In 2023, I won the Macro category of the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championships. I was also awarded Highly Commended in the Wide Angle and Human Impact categories.

In 2024 I was awarded Runner Up in the Coast & Marine category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards.

You won't find me on the mainstream social media outlets. If you want to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you! You can email me at my-first-name @ my domain.