Thursday, October 30, 2014

Galvanizing underwater adventures

Diving pioneers and innovators: a series of in-depth interviews / Bret Gilliam. Published by New World Publications, Jacksonville, Florida, 2007.

It is said that where there’s a person’s face in an illustration, it will capture our attention, at least we will tend to gaze at it. Photographic illustrations with certain qualities, either informational or aesthetically pleasing, tend to ornament the text with artistic flare. And in this 487 page book of interviews with notable divers, the text is suffused with both kinds of images, from the wealth of photographs taken by the divers during their careers to the style and arrangement of the text. Each chapter begins with a decorative portrait of a diver followed by biographical sketches about each of Bret’s interviewees and these provide a 360 degree picture of the persons he selected. Bret chose to interview 18 divers and names another 16 to whose memory he dedicated the book. The very last chapter is devoted to Gilliam himself, written by colleague Lina Hitchcock.

Two professions, diving and underwater photography, saw great development in their technologies beginning about the mid-20th century. Accomplishments range from the extension and modernization of diving equipment to camera housing and lighting. It is astonishing to realize that such an era of discovery and exploration has seen its heyday, and that the adventures of a few illuminate the deep underwater world, remaining accessible in film and still images.

The Library’s collection of books about deep diving, diving equipment, histories and the biographies of heroes of the diving world are greatly increased through a recent generous donation of works on the subject the world over. Please call or email the Library for more information.

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