What It Takes is an audio podcast produced by the American Academy of Achievement featuring intimate, revealing conversations with influential leaders in the diverse fields of endeavor: public service, science and exploration, sports, technology, business, arts and humanities, and justice.
Light is everything in the ocean. If you take down a strobe, you uncork that bottle of sunlight, push the trigger of the camera, the reef explodes with light. You see colors that have never really been seen before. They have an extraordinary palette, colors you can’t even imagine.
David Doubilet was born and raised in New York City. His father was a physician who became a professor of surgery at New York University. At age eight, David, an asthmatic child who at first had little interest in the outdoors, discovered the joy of underwater exploration while attending summer camp on a freshwater lake in the Adirondack Mountains.
Growing up in New York City, he had fewer opportunities to explore his passion during the year, but his family spent summers at their seaside home in Elberon, New Jersey, where he took up snorkeling. At age 12, he began taking pictures above and below the water, wrapping his camera in a plastic anesthesiologist’s bag given him by his physician father.
His father encouraged him in other ways, taking him along on a fishing trip to Andros Island in the Bahamas, where David learned to dive with scuba gear. In his teens, David began working at the island’s Small Hope Lodge and would return every summer through his college years as a diving instructor, taking undersea pictures in his spare time. Back on the mainland, he worked part-time as a diver and photographer for the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory.
He entertained thoughts of becoming a marine biologist, but when he entered Boston University, in Autumn 1965, he soon gravitated toward film and broadcasting studies. Over the summer following freshman year, he attended a pilot course in underwater photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. Bored with his first efforts at motion photography, by the time he graduated in 1970, David Doubilet was firmly set on a career as a still photographer.