Jacob Cockle, from Penzance, is reported to have got into difficulty while swimming in the Hayle Estuary.
People have turned to Twitter to pay tribute to the 28-year-old.
Sue Evans wrote: ‘rip Jacob Cockle talented photographer – took some stunning Penzance pics.’
Georgie Burdett added: ‘RIP Jacob Cockle. Beautiful soul, positive personality, fantastic surfer, amazing photographer, all round good guy taken too soon.’
Jacob won the 2009 Digital Camera Photographer of the Year’s ‘World in Motion’ category which was sponsored by the Telegraph.