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CLEANUP AT COOPER

Boat hooks by the dozen; barbecue grills in various states of disrepair; a complete Argentinian national football uniform; an outboard motor; a pair of men's swimming shorts, size 6-X. These constituted some of the barnacled bounty plucked from the bottom of Manchioneel Bay last September 16, by 20 volunteer divers assisted by the facilities and staff of SailCaribbean Divers. The volunteers weren't all about altruism, however; they had put in a spot of practice at nearby Painted Walls, lured there by SailCaribbean's splendid offer of a $4 dive in return for time spent grooming the Cooper Island mooring field. Along for the fun was local underwater photographer and legend, Armando Jenik, whose pictures document the day.

A word from Armando Jenik                
As the world around us evolves, each and every photographer finds him or herself reinventing their style, their traits, themselves.
I was the first underwater photographer for Getty and Image Bank, and I worked with them for 23 years. Now, though, the competition is too intense – there are thousands of underwater photographers.  So, now I am a Director of Photography for the motion picture business instead.

I started out in the movie/TV business by doing a production in the BVI for a guy from New York and, instead of getting paid, I got the equipment—two broadcast video cameras with housings. The equipment was my entry card to the motion picture business, and I ended up shooting for soap operas.  The work, of course, was all underwater; in the shower, the pool or on the beach. I even won two Miami Emmys.

Next, I traded my broadcast video camera in for a film camera and housing.  I was very busy and very happy for many years, working on just about every production that came to the Virgin Islands (both US and BVI) and Puerto Rico.

Unfortunately a number of unrelated factors occurred and my business once again had to change.  There was September 11 that changed the travel industry as we know it. And then there was the advent of digital photography, which was like a photographer's September 11.  Once again we had to change all our equipment to keep up with technology.  At this time, the Internet also became the information delivery vehicle of choice, and I found myself needing to market myself through websites, and build my own. That’s what Scuba Shots (www.scubashotsbvi.com) tries to do, share my world and make money at the same time.

One of the best jobs I have done recently was with SailCaribbean. It's a fantastic company doing great work with children. Scuba Shots provides the parents with pictures of their children diving while they're here on vacation. And the response from the parents is fantastic – they never imagined they would see their children in diving equipment, several feet under water.

I am now working on a project whereby I, together with a teacher, will be sending live video signal from underwater by microwave to high schools in real time. These live lessons will be sent all over the world. We're also preparing a series of lessons and educational programmes focusing on the oceans. I will be creating and generating the images and helping the class relate the marine environment to the real world.  Hopefully, this project will enable children to become part of, and understand, the world around them – even the bits they can’t see.  I’m very excited at the whole prospect.

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