Code of Conduct for Photographers & Videographers
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No-one should attempt to take pictures or film underwater until they are competent divers. Novices – and divers who do not possess superior buoyancy skills – thrashing about with their hands and fins will do untold damage without even noticing. Also, every diver should ensure that gauges, octopus regulators, torches and other equipment are secured. If we find that your photography damages the reef too much, we will ask you to stop.
Needless to say, apart from damaging corals and critters and possibly yourself, you will make it impossible for other divers to see anything or take pictures when the swirling sand has reduced the visibility. Look behind you from time to time and assess your effect on the environment!
In a new environment, especially when you haven’t been diving for a while, your buoyancy might be a bit off. We therefore ask you not to bring your camera on the first dive of your stay. This gives you plenty of time to assess your skills, get orientated and get an idea about what to photograph the rest of your stay. If your Divemaster sees you with camera in hand during your first briefing, you will be asked to leave it until the next dive.
A Peak Performance Buoyancy course will teach you to dive and photograph without damage – knowing how to back away from a subject is an invaluable skill for photographers. Ask us about the course.
A finger placed carefully on a bare patch of rock can do much to replace other, more damaging movement like fin kicking kneeling down. Try and find subjects that allow you to photograph without damage.
Gloves are not necessary in our warm water, and we will therefore ask you not to wear them.
Care should be taken to avoid stressing a subject. Some fish are clearly unhappy when a camera invades their ‘personal space’ or when pictures are taken using flash or lights. Others are unconcerned. They make the best subjects. If your Divemaster gauges that a critter has had enough and asks you to move away, please respect this.
Queuing to photograph a rare subject, such as a pygmy seahorse or a ghost pipefish, should be avoided because of the harm repeated bursts of bright light may do to their eyesight. We have seen many blind pygmys. The number of shots of an individual subject should be kept to the minimum, especially if you have a small point-and-shoot camera since they tend to get very close. If your Divemaster sees that you are too close or spend too much time photographing a stressed out subject, he or she will ask you to move on.
Divers should never kill or feed marine life to create a photographic opportunity, such as feeding sea urchins to a wrasse or bread to batfish. Don’t ask your Divemaster to feed the fish.
Creatures should never be harassed to create a reaction nor should they generally be moved or touched. Do not touch, move or ask your Divemaster to move critters to make a better picture.
Bigger fish and turtles tend to swim away when we come too close for comfort. If you are following a subject to get good photos or video, stop when you sense that the animal is trying hard to get away from you. It does it for a reason.
We do not encourage you to dive with a pointer. If you do, use it as a pointer, not to poke marine life or move things around.
Night diving requires exceptional care because it is much more difficult to be aware of your surroundings. Torch beams or lights can confuse and disturb fish if pointed directly at them. Be prepared to keep bright lights off subjects that exhibit stressed behavior, using only the edge of the beam to minimize disturbance.
We also ask you to avoid harming yourself. Many photographers opt to sit or lay down on the sand while taking pictures. As good as this is, watch carefully first because we have a lot of spiky animals hidden in the sand (demon stingers/devil scorpion fish etc) and they sure hurt. Some of our anemonies sting, as well as other seemingly harmless soft coral.
Today, when so many more divers are taking up underwater photography, both still and video, it is essential that the preservation of the fragile marine environment and its creatures is paramount. We know that it is hard to keep your eyes off the LCD screen under water in the quest for that perfect picture, but please look up and ensure that this Code of Conduct is carefully observed.