Awards + Books

Honoring a Legend: Marty Snyderman's Scuba Service Award

Honoring a Legend: Marty Snyderman's Scuba Service Award

The California Scuba Service Award is presented each year to honor an individual who has made a significant impact on the California diving community. Since 1989, this prestigious award has honored individuals like Dottie Frazier (2014), Wyland (2010), and Lloyd Bridges (2018), and in 2020 our very own Marty Snyderman was named as an honoree. While COVID-19 prevented the celebration of this award in person in 2020, the Scuba Show 2022 provided an opportunity to recognize Marty for his contributions to the California diving scene, and beyond.

What began in childhood as a deep appreciation for the wonders of the ocean, became an award-winning career in scuba diving and underwater photography. Marty’s work has been featured by National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, the BBC, Smithsonian, the Discovery Channel, and PBS, just to name a few. In addition to his many publications, he’s also been honored with a NOGI Award, the DEMA Reaching Out Award, and notably Marty won an Emmy for his cinematography.

Marty’s long-time friends and colleagues, Michele and Howard Hall, presented Marty with his 2020 California Scuba Service Award. The following is his acceptance speech.


Marty Snydermann Porcupine Fish

Porcupinefish, Bonaire © 2022 Marty Snyderman


"I know that I should not allow an honor to go to my head, but receiving the 2020 California Scuba Service award is pretty cool, so I think I am going to give myself a pass on that just for tonight.
"Given that this is my five minutes of fame, I’d like to share a few thoughts. Certainly, I want to thank those that are responsible for designating me as an honoree. Having been associated with the Scuba Show in one way or another since its beginnings many years ago and having presented the California Scuba Service award for almost a decade, I am keenly aware of the previous honorees and their many contributions to the diving community in California and beyond. You might or might not know all of their names, but I assure you that as a diver, in one way or another you have been positively impacted by their careers and contributions.
"So, yes, receiving this honor is humbling. It fills me with pride, and with considerable self-doubt regarding my worthiness. In simple terms, I try to share the joy making images underwater and try to be a positive force for marine wildlife, wild places, and the diving community whenever and wherever I can. This honor gives me a little louder megaphone to be the voice I want to be. In that pursuit, it is my intention to represent the family of previous recipients and the diving community ably and honorably."


Marty Snydermann with Ikelite Team

Marty Snyderman with the Ikelite crew at Scuba Show 2022.


"It is clear to me, and I hope to you, that I did not get here tonight solely because I am me. If I deserve this honor, it is because I stand on the shoulders of so many others who have helped me along my path. That group includes Mark Young and my extended family at Dive Training magazine, California Diving News, Dive Center Business, and, of course, the Scuba Show. I would not be here tonight without Mark Young and his support, and Mark wouldn’t be here without Dale and Kim Sheckler who started this show years ago. That is just the way life works. The best way I know to thank those who have helped me is to pay it forward by offering help and encouragement to future generations of image makers and wildlife warriors. I know I join many of you in that effort.
"I also want to be sure to thank Gordon Strahan of Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards in the Philippines for giving me the opportunity to work with the Atlantis team as our Photography Ambassador. I want to give a special thank you to John Brigham and Jean Rydberg and the team at Ikelite and the team at Aqua Lung for all of their support over the years. I have leaned on them a lot and they have always delivered for me in the clutch."


Marty Snydermann Yellow Jack and Spanish Hogfish

Yellow jack and Spanish hogfish hunting together, Bonaire © 2022 Marty Snyderman 


"No way in the world I would be standing here without the friendship and support of Michele and Howard Hall. Many of you know Michele and Howard as the premier underwater filmmakers of my generation. Certainly, they are that. But I promise you they are even better people and better friends, and I am really lucky and grateful to have them be such close friends and a big part of my life. I encourage you to go see their new IMAX film, Secrets of the Sea, which will be released in June I think.

"Last, but certainly not least, I’d like you to know that when I first came to California in 1975, I did so to pursue my diving dreams. I wanted to swim with and photograph sharks, whales, dolphins, sea lions, manatees, and fishes of all stripes and colors. I wanted to fill up my passports as fast as I could get my hands on them. Lucky me! I have lived my dream.

"What I did not realize - had never even considered - was how big a part of my life the diving community would become. It is the friendships and shared experiences that have made my involvement in diving so much more meaningful. I would like you to know that I appreciate being part of our community and having the opportunity to contribute in some way." 

It's hard to underplay the impact Marty has had, not just on the California diving community, but on the scuba and underwater imaging community as a whole. His work shaped a generation of photographers, and brought the underwater wonders of the ocean topside. Congratulations, Marty!


Marty Snydermann Honeycomb Cowfish

Pair of mating Honeycomb cowfish, Bonaire © 2022 Marty Snyderman



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Additional Reading

About Marty Snyderman

Book Review: 101 Tips for Underwater Photographers

An Underwater Rockstar Among Royalty

Planning a Shore Diving Trip to Bonaire

The Next Generation of Professional Underwater Strobes

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