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'How to' hints #6

by Pat Morrissey

Reproduced from in focus 67 (February 2000)

This month, we're focusing on UNDERWATER PHOT0GRAPHY,

And 'HOW TO' tells you all you need to know to be an expert in this fascinating field! It's amazing what some people get up to underwater, and now YOU can join in the fun!

P. S. Be sure to look out for our special offer later in the year - a free set of steak knives, with every underwater catnera housinq!

HOW TO: run an underwater photography course

1. Be sure that you don't advertise it properly, this will put paid to over-crowding, and leaves plenty of spaces for those last-minute, cutprice inquirer's who always ring up the night before and who, in some cases, are willing to pay cash.

2. Ensure that any accommodation is considerably below par. Couples must only ever be allotted twin beds, those requiring baths must be given showers (with hot water as optional extra), and no mattress must exceed the 'Pentonville' standard of 2' thickness when dry(ish). Hotel or boarding-house food ought never to be too plentiful, and courses run aboard live-aboard boats must be held in the Egyptian Red Sea so as to maximize the chances of dysentery, pox, 'the runs', etc.

3. Never inform potential clients of the need for specific vaccinations until actually en route to the site. Affect surprise at reports of outbreaks of the Black Death in Bournemouth; flatly deny the existence of mosquitoes in Sipadan or anywhere else remotely 'foreign'. The key is to be just - but only just.

4. Tell clients (who have paid in full) that there may be some need for pre-course reading and/or home study. Clients who have yet to cough up may be left in blissful ignorance. However, when meeting all clients on the first day of the course ensure that pre-packed cartons of 'lesson plans' are not only available, but read, insisted upon by you and your minders. Assure clients that there will indeed be a written exam upon completion of the course, and that all results - however pathetic - will be published in full in 'The Sporting Life'.

5. Always rehearse that 'throwaway' remark or humorous story before the commencement of each course; in addition, make sure you use them, no matter how often they've been called upon in the post. (If it was good enough for your father, then it's good enough for you ... )

6. Where conceivably possible, engage a member of your family (or a close friend) to help you on the course. They con be introduced as 'experienced old hands' or 'willing models', depending on age, sex, etc. They must, of course, spend every waking minute praising any type of photograph taken by even the most half-witted of clients, whilst all the time regretting that *Pity you weren't here last week ? we had humpback whales/schools of dolphins/doncing mermaids', etc.

7. A simple one, this, but so often overlooked - do remember to keep your eyes open for any decent ideas thrown up by a student, and then capitalize on it yourself at some later date.
(N. B. This need be no more than 2 hours later, to allow for the legendary British sense of fair play).

8. When replying to the inevitable questions on underwater photographic 'hardware', ensure you write the name of your sponsoring company or family-run business on a board so that all students can get the correct spellings, e-mail addresses, etc.

9. When traveling abroad en masse, 'forget' to tell clients of the full extent of their baggage allowance; your own excess baggage can then be fairly re-distributed before check-in.

10. If developing slide-film aboard for a photo course, never forget that, in their haste to get dive and photo gear dried and safely packed, most divers won't bother to examine your charge sheets too closely. Those who do, and who then allege that there must be some discrepancy, can have their details given anonymously to the local drugbusters police unit for extended 'debriefing'.
(N. B. Don't over-use this tactic, one example goes a long way, and too frequent a 'sacrifice' tends to make the local low enforcement overzealous).

11. Some time prior to the commencement of the course, ensure that all those attending are aware of your favorite tipple. When subsequently offered gifts, don't embarrass the giver by too great a show of surprise, modest delight will do, In the event of being offered a gift which is definitely not what you hinted at, be gracious - after all, it cost you nothing and should the donor still possess a receipt, it may yet be redeemable.

12. Make it a rule not to 'name-drop' no more than once an hour ? and do gauge the age/memory/intelligence of those on the course. It does no good, for instance, to boost about your having had the first aqualung in England if half your listeners think you're on about a 1971 Jethro Tull album.

13. Upon no account allow the conversations of others, after a hard day's diving, to fall into awed silence as they hear you declaim to a snoring drunken client that 'Now, the really interesting thing about underwater photography


Reproduced from in focus 67 (February 2000)

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