Written by Regional Training Consultant, Guy Corsellis
Underwater photography is an art form and an activity enjoyed by many of us. Some of us use photography and film simply for capturing souvenirs whilst others use it for recording data. As a PADI Instructor you may wish to engage in underwater photography activities whilst teaching which may be acceptable in some teaching situations. However, the PADI Instructor is still required to continually observe their divers with only the brief, periodic interruptions needed to lead the dive and provide assistance to individual divers, as required by PADI standards.
We do need to make a clear distinction of what is or isn’t allowed while conducting a PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) or Open Water Diver course. Whilst conducting a PADI DSD, the standard is very clear. As you will find under the Supervision section from the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Instructor Guide, it clearly states: Do not engage in any other activities, such as taking photographs or video, while supervising participants. This standard was also reinforced in the 4th Quarter Training Bulletin 2012. While this standard has not been specified in the PADI Open Water Diver course, as PADI Instructors we still need to apply good judgment to increase and maintain diver safety without ever jeopardizing our student divers.
In the 4th Quarter Training Bulletin from 2005 we published an article about Student Diver-Centred Open Water Dives:
During Open Water training dives, as the Instructor, you carry the responsibility to observe and evaluate each student diver’s performance. Participating in other activities during open water training dives detracts from your primary focus and responsibility. Underwater, if you are taking photographs, videotaping, mapping, searching, collecting or doing anything not directly related to the dive’s training objectives, you are not providing the direct supervision that student divers deserve or may need. Please be aware that taking photos during a course (in particular an entry level course) may take your attention off the students.
From a risk management point of view as you will no doubt be aware, dive professionals are always advised to err on the side of caution. This is not only the safest option for all involved but also the best defence, should something go terribly wrong on the dive and the matter is taken to court. As a PADI Instructor, this is something you always need to bear in mind when you need to ‘make the call’. Make conservative judgment calls and always err on the side of caution. If student divers lack comfort and confidence, I strongly recommend that you only focus on the wellbeing of your student divers and not task load yourself with other activities. As stated in our Member Code of Practice, “As a PADI Member, you agree to the following: Put the safety of diving clients and students as your first priority and responsibility!”
Please don’t forget to have fun with your student divers and enjoy yourselves!
If you have any further questions, please email your Regional Training Consultant at email@example.com