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Meet the Judges

Of Ocean Conservancy's Annual Photo Contest

Get to know our 2024 Ocean Conservancy Photo Contest judges! This year’s expert panel of judges features photography professionals, divemasters and marine rescuers from around the globe. They’ll review, evaluate and rank your top-voted images to help us determine the grand prize winner of our 2024 Photo Contest: the Judges’ Choice Award.

Rachel Moore

Photographer Rachel Moore

Rachel Moore is a passionate ocean advocate and accomplished professional in the world of diving and photography. Certified by PADI at the young age of 15, she has since logged over 2,000 dives, earning the titles of PADI Divemaster and PADI Ambassadiver. As an ambassador for Only One and Sea Legacy, Rachel actively champions ocean conservation. Her achievements include being the youngest certified National Park Service Blue Card Diver, where she contributed her skills to the Channel Islands National Park Service’s underwater research program and television show for four seasons.

Rachel’s talents extend beyond diving; she is an award-winning photographer, recognized for her captivating imagery that highlights the beauty and fragility of marine ecosystems. Notable accolades include winning the Judge’s Choice in Ocean Conservancy’s 2023 Photo Contest and being a finalist in prestigious competitions such as the UN World Ocean’s Day Photo Competition and Ocean Photographer of the Year.

Photographer Rachel Moore taking photos underwater

Rachel is also an ambassador for Sony and GoPro, utilizing their equipment to capture stunning visuals that inspire others to protect our planet and oceans. Living aboard a boat for over a decade and sailing full-time for over seven years, she currently calls French Polynesia home. Rachel spends much of her time immersed in the water, leading expeditions to swim with humpback whales and documenting marine life. Her commitment to environmental activism is further demonstrated by her involvement in projects such as a recent film for Corona Studios, highlighting the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems. Through her work, Rachel continues to be a powerful force in advocating for the preservation of our oceans and planet.

Instagram: @moore_rachel

Max Holba

Photographer Max Holba holding camera

Max Holba is an underwater photographer, dive resort owner and freelance journalist based on the remote island of Alor in Indonesia. Although born and raised in landlocked Austria, he started scuba diving quite young at the age of 10. About a decade and many dives later he made his passion his profession and became a diving instructor and subsequently a dive resort manager & owner, as well as a professional underwater photographer. With his underwater imaging and ocean storytelling he is now thriving to inspire the next generation of sea advocates. Especially with his visual works, showcasing the Big Blue’s beauty, he hopes to raise awareness for marine life conservation. Some of his recent publications can be found in Oceanographic Magazine and the Sea Museum in Sydney.

Over the years Max has had success in different underwater photography competitions, such as being a multiple-time finalist in the Ocean Photographer of the Year Competition, placing in the Ocean Art Contest and winning the Spectacular Seascapes category in the 2023 edition of the annual photo contest by Ocean Conservancy. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Alor Photo Academy, the first and only one of its kind in the region, where he passes on his knowledge of underwater photography, hoping that more photographers ultimately mean more people caring for something he deeply loves.

Having joined many competitions in the past, Max “is extremely excited to be on the other side of a contest, being a judge for the first time and will be looking for the unique, unseen and thought-provoking in all the participants’ images.”

Instagram: @maxbeyondthesea


Photo Academy Courses:

Nicholas DeNezzo

Photographer Nicholas DeNezzo

Nick is a multidisciplinary marine conservationist with experience across a number of fields. As a wildlife photographer and conservation artist, Nick has focused on using creative methods to communicate topics about marine science and conservation. In particular, he often focuses on local San Diego wildlife and the human impacts faced by the most biodiverse region in the US.

Over the last 8 years, Nick has helped facilitate the rescue, rehabilitation and return of hundreds of sick and injured marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles as a senior member of SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team. Through this, he has had the opportunity to work hands-on with wildlife ranging from tiny orphaned 5-gram plover chicks to entangled 20-ton whales and everything in between.

Photographer Nicholas DeNezzo

Nick is a graduate of Scripps Institution of Oceanography with a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. Following this, he was also a Science Communication Fellow with California Sea Grant, focused on science writing, outreach and social media management. Prior to entering the field of marine science, Nick worked as a mental health professional, which has driven his passion for human impacts and connections to conservation efforts.

Instagram: @nickipedia_ / @ndenezzo


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