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Tme for a "Ten Commandments For The Underwater Photographer?"

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THE POINT OF THIS THREAD IS TO GET YOUR RULES/LAWS AND IDEAS

 

It has been great to see the different manipulation, etiquette threads going. It shows this subject is moving to the forefront of issues.

 

Now IMVeryHO it is time to come up with a “10 Commandments of Underwater Photographyâ€, “The Underwater Photographers Credo†or whatever people want to call it. Again IMHO it is something many of the luminaries that frequent this site and others should get behind!

 

Unlike this post, it should be short, to the point and evangelized to all dive related sites. Better yet it would be great to get PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc, to use them in their Photography modules and classes.

 

“Rules†will give us a starting point as a community. Hopefully it would make the life of dive guides, dive shops and all those dependant on tips easier. They could have something to post and point to during dive briefings and say “we abide by the Underwater Photographers 10 Commandments and we ask you do to.†Also a great way to gently approach say a new diver/photog that might be struggling with buoyancy, etc…

 

Much of the following was copied from the excellent thread started by Big Blue One with some of my additions.

 

IN YOUR REPLY LIST YOUR RULES. Feel free to amend, improve, and change any of the following.

 

1. I believe that preservation of the reef and the creatures of the sea are more important than any image I may capture.

2. I will never physically move, touch or manipulate any subject and ask my Dive Guide does not either.

3. I will never put more than two fingers on DEAD Reef, rock or sand to hold position.

4. I will not lie all over the reef just to get a better angle.

5. I will assess the current, the surrounding area and any fragile reef forms that may be at risk when I wade in with my camera

6. Non camera holders always get first call at critter viewing, unless it is something I found.

7. I will Adapt my kick style and body position keeping my legs and body off the reef

8. I will endeavor to work with diver/photogs who may not be aware of the rules above. I can no longer stand aside and see that which we all profess to enjoy be abused. (I know very controversial)

9. I will endeavor to support dive operations and publishers that support the "10 Commandments"

10. Ok I am out of self-righteous statements.

 

Let it be said: Yes there is a lot of grey; yes just our presence effects the wildlife and yes the agreed upon guidelines, rules, laws will not stop all bad behavior. I am fully aware I don’t have to put food on the table with my photos; I am an amateur hack so please excuse if this comes out holier than thou.

 

Of course any English majors, or creative types it would be great to get your input on how to make this the most presentable. Also input on how to get this spread around the web and submitted to PADI, NAUI, etc, would be appreciated.

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We did produce an Underwater Photographer's Code of Conduct in the UK, including a printed copy (supported by PADI Aware) but most copies have long been disributed. It is available as an online pdf via the UK's Marine Conservation Society, but, the link from their website is down. So, if you plug 'underwater photographer's code of conduct' into google, you should come up with a link like this:

 

[PDF]

The Underwater Photographers Code of Conduct

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML

is paramount and that this Code of Good Practice is carefully. observed. The Underwater Photographers Code of Conduct. This Code of Good Practice has been ...

www.mcsuk.org/downloads/mcsprojects/underwatercode.pdf - Similar pages

 

which will enable you to download it at present. I will try and get the link sorted though!

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I checked it out. Extremely well thought out code of conduct. Nice images too. I'd be happy to sign up for adopting these. At the end of the day for me it comes down to one rule. Do No Harm. The problem comes when folks are not educated enough on the environment we dive in to know when they are at risk causing harm. Publicized Codes of conduct are a great way to help this education process along. There will always be the Capt. Barbosa's among us who treat the Code "more as a set of guidelines really". Is it time for Wetpixel to adopt a code to help further the education process?

 

Steve

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I hope I do better with these than those other 10 commandments. :)

This goes on yet a 3rd list along with "I shall not complain, bitch or whine about shots that I would have taken had only I had my camera with me, or the right lens."

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I think that the problem with any such codes/commandments/rules is that those who already behave well and try and minimise their impact will read and adhere to them. And those few old schoolers who basically don't give a stuff, will continue to harass the marine life as they do now (and probably laugh at the rest of us fussing about this).

 

The other point I would raise is that it is impossible to get everyone diving and photographing to one code and this can cause issues when denominations collide.

 

A friend of mine tells a very funny story when he was barged off a subject in Lembeh by another photographer. When he asked the other photographer after the dive about the incident the guy calmly informed him that "I dive to Chris Newbert's rules - three shots and you're out of there". My friend had taken three shots of a subject and apparently this meant he was fair game to be barged out of the way. The problem with coming up with rules, however well intentioned, is that not everyone will have heard about them.

 

Sorry to post this fairly unconstructive entry here. I could have posted this in several of the current active threads on these sorts.

 

Alex

 

p.s. I also think that 10 commandemnets is possibly not the most PC name, since some of the world's very best diving is in Muslim countries!

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Actually Alex, the Quran(koran) also mentions Moses'(being a prophet) 10 commandments. So it's ok. Just remember to say Allah instead of Jehovah and you'll be ok.

 

I suppose the yellow kitchen gloves is also part of the Chris Newbert rules? :) Also to be fair to oldtimers, there are new guys who exhibit the same behavior, so it's not an age thing but a doctrine issue.

 

As for having absolute laws, it'll just start more wars. The issues of the world come from having absolutes from different camps colliding. I wish it were as easy as whipping out a "10 things not to do while diving checklist".

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I like the idea, there is nothing wrong with an etiquette for divers, and it might indeed work if large organisations like PADI, NAUI, etc make this part of their education method.

 

When I was in Bunaken, the owner of a diveshop told me she wanted to hire rangers for the national park to look after photographers while they were diving, since many photographers are causing a lot of destruction on the reefs. These 'underwater police agents' would than give misbehaving photographers a warning and with a second offence, they would be banned from diving in the park. Unfortunately, since the parkfee is still 'voluntary' (some operators don't charge their customers for the fee), this is very hard implement.

 

A problem I see is the following: how much harm are we as photographers causing with our flashlights alone? I can't imagine that a Pygmee Seahorse is very happy with tens of divers taking multiple pictures per session per day. At least I wouldn't want to be flashed into my eyes with a flashlight that is about 500 times the size of me...

 

Vincent

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Thanks for the link to the UK/Bsop “rulesâ€. It shows once again many are mostly on the same page. IMHO it is a bit wordy. What I am aiming for is something short and to the point.

 

Alex and others, as I said this will not stop bad behavior by the uncaring. But it is an attempt to make them a small minority.

 

If it is adopted by those who do sell or give away images for publishing than it is easier to call out those who do not. Let the consumer decide do I want to buy this person’s images? Even if they just give it lip service and keep up with their bad ways it is something.

 

Look how the “Green†movement has worked it’s way into Corporate America. If photographers and publishers are under pressure to assure their images were captured under the “10 Commandments†there will be some movement.

 

I am sure it sounds naive to say we have to get past the “colliding denominations.†If nobody is 100% happy with what is proposed then you can bet its pretty fair.

 

Step 1. Come up with 1-10 rules, suggestions, laws that most can agree on.

Step 2. IMHO it is crucial to get Big Names (I will be the *hole to call them out) like Alex Mustard, Eric Cheng, Stephen Frink, Todd Mintz, all the moderators at WP, and more to sign on.

Step 3. Get some form of sign-up sheet, petition that anyone can sign on to. Spread and post it around to get more people to sign on.

Step 4. Get PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc, agree to use it in their training.

Step 5. Put pressure on the photo competitions to adopt the rules. Many already have something close.

Step 6. As consumers of dive media we need to put our money where our mouth is. As we in the community learn who the bad actors are we stop buying anything that contains their images unless they publicly get with the “10 Commandmentsâ€. Again it might just be lip service but if someone catches them there is less of a stigma to calling them on it.

 

Example: I don’t want to come down on the poor guy who is currently the Featured Photographer at Scubadiving.com but he has a photo showing someone holding a poisonous “Red Sea Walkerâ€. I understand he is trying to be scientific and show how it walks BUT COME ON! If just one new diver gets the idea its ok to handle animals its one too many. I emailed Scuba Diving magazine and asked they not post such photos. As I have asked them not to take ads showing people touching mantas. At this point I am not expecting them to change their policies but I do expect some kind of response. If I get no response I am going to cancel my subscription. Not even a drop in the bucket but it has to start somewhere.

 

Let’s move past complaining about it and do something about it. Any ideas, suggestions and or course criticism is welcome.

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Be _very careful_ about regulations (even self made ones).

 

There are plenty of people who will twist them in to unmanageable/very constrictive rules that no one can comply with.

 

A few years ago, there was a campaign/study done on divers disturbing the kelp in Monterey Bay by Marine Biologist PhD representing the kelp harvesting industry which basically wanted to force divers to stick to underwater "trails" and not touch anything. Why? because divers break a few kelp stipes once in a while. (never mind, that the kelp harvesters clear cut the top of the kelp forest in large areas.)

 

Take Care,

ChrisS

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The MCS document offers thoughtful advice in a constructive way. It is not judgmental or arbitrarily restrictive. The result of people reading and following it is more skilled, aware, and conscientious divers.

 

The "10 commandments", on the other hand, contains a arbitrary restrictions without consideration of what might be reasonable regarding subjects or conditions. It is preachy and judgmental. No way I would support anything like that.

 

The assumption that we should act at all will not be generally agreed upon. I can support an approach like the MCS document which is helpful and constructive but I cannot support one that is militant and dictatorial. I recognize no one's right to be the enforcer.

 

We should be constantly critical of our own behavior underwater and we should set positive examples for others. Calling for boycotts of those who don't follow rules we arbitrarily choose is not the kind of positive example that will be good for anyone. It wouldn't happen any.

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Thou shalt not poke thy neighbours wife in a pink bikini...

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I hope I do better with these than those other 10 commandments. :D

 

which one is that? "Thou shall not envy thy neighbor's DSLR rig?" :)

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Sorry, but I have more than enough commandments in my life as it is. I may be in the minority but I don't equate all touching or manipulation with harassment. I think common sense, respect for the marine environment and leading by example are more valuable than some code.

I think even presenting such a list of rules gives the wrong impression, ie: that photographers are destructive by nature and need a special set of rules to keep them in line.

Edited by Lionfish43

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There will always be the Capt. Barbosa's among us who treat the Code "more as a set of guidelines really". Is it time for Wetpixel to adopt a code to help further the education process? Steve

 

I think common sense, respect for the marine environment and leading by example are more valuable than some code.

I think even presenting such a list of rules gives the wrong impression, ie: that photographers are destructive by nature and need a special set of rules to keep them in line.

 

Its interesting how views polarise so easily/quickly. The Code of Conduct is of course (as so aptly quoted) a set of guidelines and the purpose of it was, and is, to make people think and be aware of the fact that behaviour which causes problems can easily be rectified with little detrimental effect on imagery and (at least I believe this myself) a great deal more satisfaction in knowing that, I saw that, I photographed it and I left it as it was! Codes are not rules though and nothing really replaces common sense (no, not even the health and safety mob)!

 

At the end of the day appreciation of the marine environment (we are an incredibly privileged few, who dive and take underwater photographs) and personal responsibility are up to each individual. Changing other's views is not just about Codes/Rules, its about our own behaviour, discussions, lifestyle, etc., etc.. Topics like this on Wetpixel help by airing the issues but probably preach to the converted. What I liked about the UK CoC was that virtually everyone that I have met that was involved in it or has seen it since, has been pretty positive about trying to minimise their impact on the marine environment where possible.

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To be brutally honest I am really surprised that people can rationalize moving, restraining or handling any animal for a photo or video clip. Yes the "guidelines", "laws" are a black and white in attempt to steer clear of the slippery slope some seem to be pelting down.

 

For those who claim they have the knowledge and experience to know if it is ok to manipulate a creature, who is the judge of that? Do see the problem here? If you claim you can do it how can you honestly then deny anyone else?

 

As a consumer I have every right to ask how you produce something. You as a producer have every right to tell me to take a hike. I will and my $$$ shall go with me.

 

What I am weary of is most admit the oceans are an incredible environment that needs to be protected but always blame "the other guy". I see this as a way to say "we have put our house in order now lets work with the other guy"

Edited by NWDiver

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For those who claim they have the knowledge and experience to know if it is ok to manipulate a creature, who is the judge of that?

You feel you are? By declaring "no touch", that's exactly what you are saying.

 

As a consumer I have every right to ask how you produce something. You as a producer have every right to tell me to take a hike. I will and my $$$ shall go with me.

Don't see how this is relevant to the amateurs that make up the vast majority of all who would be effected by this. Go on dreaming that you can enforce a code of conduct on all that you do business with, though. Any group that published a rigid set of unreasonable guidelines, attempted to enforce them on the community at large, and calls for boycotts of businesses that don't comply would be one that I distanced myself from.

 

What I am weary of is most admit the oceans are an incredible environment that needs to be protected but always blame "the other guy". I see this as a way to say "we have put our house in order now lets work with the other guy"

The problem here is with the arrogance of assuming you're entitled to "work with the other guy". Again, you think you're qualified to judge what the other guy's behavior should be. I see plenty of evidence that says that isn't so, starting with your equating "touch" with "moving, restraining or handling".

 

The people who most need this sort of guidance won't be influenced by this sort of approach at all.

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Thou shalt not poke thy neighbours wife in a pink bikini...

 

 

My wife has been known to wear a pink bikini although she is not fond of being poked or prodded in any style or color of suit.

:):D

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Hi guys, wanted to chime in with something. The biggest problem with a set of "rules" is it gives people the impression they can enforce these "rules". As a biologist, when I see something neat underwater, I like to investigate it, and if that involves careful touching, there is no harm in it. But the last thing I want is to come to the surface and have someone start a fight with me over something that I know is perfectly harmless. As Craig says, who are you (or me for that matter) to judge what harms marine life and what doesnt? Have you ever seen a nudibranch or fish drop dead from being carefully touched or moved? I would argue that these animals aren't exactly little Einstiens (more so invertebrates than fish), and as such, probably don't even recognize a careful touch from a person as anything different than a bump by a hermit crab or a swaying gorgonian. Just my 2 cents.

 

Phillip

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Its interesting how views polarise so easily/quickly.

They polarize because they are written to be polarizing. They paint a black and white picture for something that is far from black and white. And then what happens is, people focus on one or two rules they can especially argue about, which will make the whole thing a useless endeavor.

 

The MCS code of conduct on the other hand leaves a lot of room for people to find their own comfort area while still being ok. You dont have to be a saint.. we're not here to gain entrance into heaven, Just be responsible and aware. And I agree with Alex that most of us already do that. Sometimes you go a little over the edge, and you feel bad for weeks, months..even years. Thats all part of it. It means you still care. We need that wiggle room to function as humans.

 

Cor

 

ps: ive done quite a bit of diving with Newbert, and ive never seen any '3 picture' rule on his boat. You find it, it's yours. That doesnt mean people dont share. I quite like some of his regulars actually.

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I did not intentionally right them to be polarizing. Over the years I have learned people tend to remember Bullet Points over Mission Statements. I knew there is no way to enforce them; there are no Scuba Police so they would always just be "Guidelines". So I thought why not error on the conservative side? Yes, they are mainly aimed at those new to diving and those new to taking a camera diving.

 

On a more esoteric line; for me a huge part of being awed by an image is the luck and perseverance it took to be at the right place at the right time, have the right equipment and then the skill to capture the moment. To me manipulating a subject is no different then cutting and pasting it in Photoshop and I have no interest in that.

 

This will be my last rant about the impact of touching, moving, whatever, a creature so you can get a better picture of it. I am not a biologist. Over the past 20yrs I have worked on many research projects as a volunteer dealing with everything from marine fish & coral husbandry to shark tagging. I am around PhD. Marine Biologist every week. I have never heard any of them say handling wild animals in nature is good for them. At best they say it May do minimal harm. Why risk any harm so you can win a flashlight in some competition! Of course if you are doing research, are one of the few who do actually publish fish ID books not I or anyone else is going to come after you for gently handling a creature. But that's what maybe 2% of the people with cameras underwater?

 

Rant over

 

For anyone interested in this subject it would be great to get "guidelines" you can live with. Replace "never" with "strive to", whatever, but come up with something short and to the point. For those who feel its ok to handle creatures it would be great if you could provide Specific verbiage that you could live with.

 

 

I think my goal will be to distill this thread down and post it at some other sites. (very tacky, I know) If some "laws/guidelines/text" can be found many can live with then maybe I will look into some kind of online Sign-Up Sheet or Petition to give people a chance to get involved.

 

Then go from there. If this all dies here and now at least it beat watching reruns.

Edited by NWDiver

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