As a sophomore in high school I signed up for a semester of photography to fill an empty elective class slot. Within months I became captivated by the art, eventually going so far as to build a darkroom in my basement. In spite of my captivation I was never more than a hobbyist; I became involved in environmental science during my undergraduate, and realized that my greatest passion lay in the field of teaching.

Having left my darkroom behind when I left for college, I found myself taking fewer and fewer photographs. My heart lay with my old Pentax K-1000 and the rituals of darkroom photography; I was reluctant to embrace the plethora of digital options available to me — until I learned to scuba dive.

In the years following graduation and my initial scuba certification I bounced from boat to couch to hostel, traveling throughout western Europe, the eastern US, and the Caribbean acquiring both stories and certifications. It was my greatest goal to become a scuba diving instructor and find some way to integrate my trade with marine environmental education.

As I dove I finally made my peace with the world of digital underwater photography, substituting the ritual of the dark room with the struggle for neutral buoyancy, the sound of my bubbles, and the often-unwilling subjects of the tropical seas. Through sharing my images with friends and family I’ve realized that photography can provide marine education of a sort: it can bring the otherworldly environment where I spend my days up to the surface for all of my friends and family to enjoy. With that in mind, I sought my qualification as a digital underwater photography instructor.

This site is an extension of that impulse: a place where I can share my work with friends, family, and the world. I hope it helps others find some appreciation for the alien seascapes that I have come to love.

Still I remain a hobbyist, however: ever struggling to find the ‘perfect’ shot of a green moray in my free time, devoting the rest to the instruction of my students. My primary calling is that of an experiential educator and Master Scuba Diver Trainer, using place-based methods to show my students why our oceans are worth conserving. With an eye towards fostering the development of a closer relationship between my students and the natural world, I use scuba training as the backdrop of an integrated curriculum in which the ocean is both textbook and playground. It’s my greatest hope that these experiences will help my students develop their own ‘land ethic’, one in which they prioritize the sustainable use of our marine resources.

Although diving is one of my greatest joys, I’ve not yet grown gills; as such, I spend at least 22 hours of my day up topside. When not underwater I can be found editing photographs, making music, or finding some way to continue my own education. I may never know all there is to know about the coral reef, but that won’t stop me from trying.

sapere aude.

All images © Tina Marie Doran, 2014, and are not meant to be used, linked, or reproduced without express written permission. All rights reserved.

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