David Doubilet

The voices of the water

David Doubilet © Jennifer Hayes

I continue to swim and to take photos
because they have the power to raise
people’s awareness and to celebrate the oceans.
Photography is a universal language
which touches hearts, changes mindsets and,
ultimately, behaviour.“

David Doubilet

The great unknown lies not only in the stars above our heads, but also in the abyssal depths of our planet. Like far-away galaxies, the ocean would remain a total mystery to us were it not for the magical power of photography.

As such, it is important that whenever possible we recognise the work of pioneers of submarine photography like David Doubilet. Fascinated by the ocean depths since reading an issue of National Geographic dedicated to explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the Calypso at the age of 10, he is one of the handful of photographers who have allowed the general public to discover a previously-hidden world of constant darkness where humans are never more than fleeting guests.

A mysterious world where the lens acts as a harpoon, capturing magical, wondrous moments like this photo of diver Dinah Halstead in the midst of a shoal of barracudas in Papua New Guinea – an icon. Author of 12 books and more than 70 articles in National Geographic, David Doubilet has notably helped raise awareness among the public of topics such as the weakening of the ice pack due to global warming or the controversial Taiji and Futo dolphin hunts in Japan.

The largest – and most iconic – underwater species have been captured by his camera. As have the smallest and least-known: for example, nudibranches, the molluscs sometimes known as “sea slugs”, which David Doubilet was able to photograph thanks to a miniature, amphibious studio. More than for any other kind of photography, it is important to keep in mind the meticulous preparations, logistics and audacity behind each of the exceptional images presented in this exhibit.

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