Working Under Pressure: Photo/Video Pros

Offering transportable memories and glimpses of a different world

Everyone remembers their first plunge into the world of diving; the feeling of freedom, of excitement mixed with serenity, and the sheer astonishment at the ability to spend an extended period of time underwater. But some divers may recall their experiences better than others, especially if they were joined by an underwater photographer or videographer. Swimming alongside them, a dive shop's photo/video pro records a diver's experiences in the underwater world to be relived again and again with family and friends.

Whether on-staff with a dive operator or as part of an independent underwater production company, the objective of the photo/video pro is the same: to capture the experience of diving in visual form, to be shared and enjoyed anew topside. "One of the most gratifying aspects of my job knows that I help divers take home a piece of their vacation in a very unique way," elaborates Elly Wray, photo & video pro at Ocean Frontiers in Grand Cayman. "It's far more personal than getting a t-shirt or sending a postcard. In the middle of winter, back at the office, a diver might have a photo I've taken on their desk or as their screensaver. It's a way to be transported."

Thinking on her fins, Elly captures moments that divers can take home with
them.


As one might imagine, being a photo/video pro requires added training and equipment. While there are no formal prerequisites, a training level of at least divemaster is often required, with an instructor certification preferred, especially if responsibilities include teaching underwater photography or video courses. Additionally, a strong background in photography and fluency in photo and video editing software is essential. An underwater photographer or videographer documenting a dive trip must also be able to think on their feet, or fins, as the case may be. "Shooting guided dives is like a game of leap frog — getting in front of the group, setting up the shot, shooting each diver as they swim by, then racing in front of the group to do it all again. All the while thinking ahead to the next shot, adjusting lighting and exposure settings, as well as looking for opportunities to catch special moments of interaction with the wildlife," says Wray.

The multitasking extends to equipment and environmental awareness: "I remind my students that they can't forget they are diving just because they have a camera in their hands. Buddy contact, awareness of air consumption, depth and care for the environment are of even greater importance with additional equipment."

Images of local wildlife help researchers gain insight to the underwater world.


The role of a photo/video pro is multifaceted. Not only do they create keepsakes and souvenirs of a diver's experience, they also have a special opportunity to serve as photojournalist and environmental ambassador, documenting the life and conditions of the reefs where they work. Photo/video pros are a resource rich in visual records of the marine environment. Their imagery and observations can aid in scientific research. "It was part of the job I hadn't anticipated, but I've been thrilled to be able to help document our local shark and turtle populations," says Wray. "Verbal accounts of an encounter are helpful, but an image of the animal observed gives researchers a lot more information."

Like that first venture beneath the ocean's surface, in diving there are countless experiences that defy words. The photo/video pro hopes to pick up where words fail — to describe the indescribable and share a profound appreciation for our underwater world.
Working Under Pressure
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