There was no shortage of photographic support when Able Seaman Jesse Rhynard was presented with the Navy's top photography award, the 2013 Rosemary Rodwell Memorial Prize, by HMAS Albatross's Commanding Officer Captain Simon Bateman.
The award, which is presented annually to an Imagery Specialist who best demonstrates the pursuit of excellence in capturing a memorable photographic image was presented to Able Seaman Rhynard at a surprise morning tea organised by his colleagues in the Imagery Specialist team at Albatross.
Competition for the award is always fierce as Royal Australian Navy photographers, known as Imagery Specialists, produce excellent work documenting every facet of Navy life on a daily basis. They have access to a diverse and exciting range of subject matters, state of the art equipment and an enviable level of training and technical expertise.
But a great photo op, a good camera and solid skills base aren’t all it takes to produce a prize winning image. What sets the winning photos apart is the photographer’s ability to apply their own aesthetic to add that extra 'wow' factor which lifts an everyday tasking to the extraordinary. Able Seaman Rhynard 's winning image of two Clearance Divers conducting a beach reconnaissance in Jervis Bay does just that.
Able Seaman Alan Lancaster and Leading Seaman Yuri Ramsay, who work with Able Seaman Rhynard in the Albatross Imagery Specialist Unit, understand exactly what it takes to win the Rosemary Rodwell Prize having had their own names inscribed on the winners shield in previous years.
Leading Seaman Ramsay, who also came an equal second with Able Seaman Nicholas Gonzalez in the 2013 competition said Able Seaman Rhynard’s image works for many reasons.
“There is real balance and tone to it, and these sort of shots, half in water and half out of water, always give the viewer the impression that they’re in there too, so it works well to capture a specific time and experience.
“Underwater photography is particularly difficult and you have to have a specific skill to do it and to do it well and Jesse definitely has that,” Leading Seaman Ramsay said.
“There’s good exposure, good balance, good composition, good subject matter, everything’s there to make it a winning shot. It’s also quite unique.”
This unique glimpse into the clearance diver’s underwater world was one of the reasons Able Seaman Rhynard chose to submit this image for the competition.
“It shows a different perspective, a side of the Navy we don’t normally see,” he said.
Able Seaman Rhynard’s win is even more impressive given the 27 year old has been an Imagery Specialist for just two years.
“I’ve always been keen on photography, and I’ve always had a particular interest in underwater water photography but the cost of special casings and cameras meant it was always out of my reach.
“I joined the Navy in 2009 and became an Imagery Specialist in 2012. Following my training I spent some time with Bill Louies, an ex-Navy photographer who was known for his underwater photography, and he was a real mentor for me.
“I’ve been very lucky with the opportunities I've had and to have a career that meshes perfectly with one of my passions.”
The award was established in 1987 as a bequest by the family of Petty Officer Rosemary Rodwell whose distinguished Royal Australian Navy career spanned over more than 20 years.