ACCOLADE: Michael Smith has made it into the top 10 for the 2019 World Photographic Cup.
ACCOLADE: Michael Smith has made it into the top 10 for the 2019 World Photographic Cup. Katrina Corcoran

Whale of an achievement: Bay photographer an award finalist

A PHOTO of an intimate moment between a mother whale and her calf has catapulted Hervey Bay's Michael Smith onto the world photography stage.

The image was selected as a finalist in the 2019 World Photographic Cup for nature photography, beating more than 80 images from photographers around the world in the category.

The top 10 images from each of the six categories were announced at the Grand Imaging Awards in the United States last week.

Mr Smith is one of seven Team Australia members to make the finals.

He said he was honoured and excited about the achievement and was looking forward to the announcement of the winners at an awards ceremony in Norway on April 8.

"With seven Australian photographers in the finals, there's a good chance Team Australia can win the competition," he said.

"Australia came second last year."

Mr Smith's image won a gold distinction award at the 2018 Australian Professional Photography Awards.

He took the photograph while he was running an Into the Wild photography tour in Tahiti in 2017. He was just a couple of metres below the surface, holding his breath in crystal clear water. The whales were about 25 metres below him.

"I took a series as the calf dived down, then I saw it turn upside down and connect with its mum," he said.

"I think the photo stands out against the other strong nature images because there's an emotional strength there, a connection, a duo-ability.

"It also has a sense of space and location, with the coral visible below the whales. And the composition and light rays were perfect."

When Mr Smith saw the image he was excited, knowing that he'd captured something incredible.

The finalists can be viewed at: worldphotographiccup.org/wpc_gallery/ finalists-2019.