So since a couple of months I’m a PADI dive instructor.
Diving was love at first sight for me. I’m sure everyone who’s diving for the first time is in awe of what they see. I’ve talked about it before, and I could keep on repeating myself all the time. Underwater photos are beautiful, but until you see it yourself for real, you won’t “get it”. As a long time photographer it was a privilege to be able to see this and to be able to start photographing this.
When I started the PADI dive instructor course I knew there was also a digital underwater photography specialty.
Having photographed for hobby since I was 12, and professionally for about a decade now, and having taught photography, Photoshop and Lightroom courses, I knew that I would also want to teach underwater photography. And through an official institute like PADI that would be a fantastic way! I’ve seen people photograph with their pocket cameras on full auto and getting these all-blue, shaken photographs as opposed to something that could’ve been a potentially great picture had they known a bit more about the technique and the settings of their camera.
So… I spent a bucketful of money to do the IDC (Instructor Development Course) and we crammed 10 Specialty Instructor Courses in a few days to get us going (the underwater photography one wasn’t part of it, unfortunately) and I was told that you could get additional Specialty Instructor licenses on the merit of proven experience. So I was not in the slightest worried about my possibilities.
Already before I started the IDC I had over 40 logged dives with underwater camera, I have a portfolio full of underwater images, I have practiced and taught photography (practiced for over 20 years and taught for about 5 years), so after passing my IDC, and passing the Specialty Instructor Courses, I wrote PADI an email, confident that I would be able to add the Underwater Photography to my list of specialties.
But, to my surprise I received an email back.
“You can apply for the Specialty Instructor certification after you’ve certified 25 divers.”
So I wrote an email back.
“I’m sorry, but did you check the link to my portfolio? Did you see that I have taught photography and that I have over 40 logged dives with my camera? Doesn’t that prove I have the necessary experience to do this specialty?”
And I get an email again from PADI.
“You haven’t certified any divers yet. You can apply for the Specialty Instructor certification after you’ve certified 25 divers.”
Now… I know what they mean.
Once I’ve certified 25 divers, I can apply for the Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT), which is the next level after Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI).
An MSDT can teach ANY specialty course, regardless of whether he knows anything about it or not.
Don’t get me wrong, I think PADI is a great institute. They’ve developed a fantastic concept to bring people close to scuba diving and to allow them to experience it without having to go through months and months of studying and practicing.
But the rules for the Specialty Courses are just hypocrite.
I’m a Specialty Instructor for 10 Specialties (I paid about US$600 to get the license to teach these specialties), which we did in a few days. I can teach them, because I can dive and because I can read the study material. Not because I am an expert on those things (of course I know “enough” in order to teach them, but really, barely).
And there I am. Professional photographer. Portfolio full of images. Proven record of dives. Taught photography before. I know more about photography than my three IDC instructors combined. THEY are allowed to teach it. I’m not. Not because I don’t know the first thing about photography, but because I haven’t certified enough divers.
That’s a good load of bullshit, if you ask me.
When I get my 25 certifications, I can teach ALL specialties, even the ones I’ve never followed a course for. Even the ones I know shit about. Why? Because I certified 25 divers.
I’m sorry PADI, but you have your head up your ass with this one.
Of course I don’t need PADI’s permission to teach underwater photography. I can do whatever I want, really.
I just think it would be nice for my students if I could tell them they were certified by a world renown institute for the course that they take with me.
Having finished a course with PADI sounds maybe a bit more impressive than having finished a course with Arno (of course the quality is the same high-standard 😉 ).