|Photographer and writer John Rawlings saw the light and moved over to rebreathers after many years of open-circuit diving and underwater photography. Now into his fourth decade of Pacific Northwest diving, John is the Chief Staff Writer and Photographer for Advanced Diver Magazine, in which for the past six years his work has regularly appeared. He is also a contributing writer and photographer to the regional publication Northwest Dive News. Johns photographs and writings have also appeared in other publications dealing with the Pacific Northwest, in both the print medium and on the web.
Born and raised near the shores of Puget Sound, John spent much of his childhood alongside his avid fisherman father gazing down into the emerald green waters and wondering what really lay beneath the surface. Finally learning to dive in the mid-1970s, it wasn't long before he developed a burning desire to photograph the many colorful animals and scenes he regularly saw while diving so that he could share his wonder with "topside friends".
Starting with a used Nikonos II and a dented flash-bulb system, John became a self-taught photographer as he struggled to find the best methods to photograph the underwater creatures and sights of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and British Columbia. Often having to deal with typically Northwest low light and poor visibility, these conditions contributed much to the manner in which John views both his subjects and the methods that he uses to capture his images. In the early days he would emerge from each dive with an old breadbag full of used bulbs lashed to his weight belt and a "wee bit" more knowledge about Pacific Northwest underwater photography bouncing around in his head.
It was because of his interest in underwater photography that John caught the CCR bug. During several trips to the Sea of Cortez, he became increasingly frustrated at his inability to approach schooling Hammerhead sharks while diving with open-circuit gear on the El Bajo seamount the sharks quickly fading off into the distance upon his approach. Simultaneously, John found himself admiring a series of shots taken literally within the school by another visiting photographer using a rebreather. The hook was set, and then and there he set a goal for himself that ultimately culminated in acquiring a CCR of his own.
In many ways, the purchase of a rebreather is similar to searching for the perfect mate. You need to be extraordinarily careful about your choice because the two of you will be together for a long, LONG time! John spent an enormous amount of time researching the various units available from the different manufacturers, always considering how each unit would match up with his style of diving and temperament. Meeting Gordon and Kim Smith through his role at Advanced Diver Magazine, he found himself increasingly drawn to the KISS line of CCRs due to their simplicity and reliability. John also found the level of support available from Jetsam to be outstanding, the company supporting their clients much like old and beloved friends. Deciding on the Classic KISS as his unit of choice, John has never looked back and has been extraordinarily pleased with the units performance particularly in the cold green waters of the Pacific Northwest where it has enabled him to get eye-to-eye with many species of marine life.
Having traveled to a variety of locations throughout the world, John still treasures the underwater world of his home waters above all others. Year-round.....sun, snow, wind or rain..... he can usually be found striding out of the surf on a desolate beach or climbing back into a dive boat, his camera again containing new images from the cold, green waters of the Pacific Northwest. John has a large portfolio of macro and wide-angle images from the Pacific Northwest as well as other photographs from "warmer locations".
Pacific Northwest Photographer
Mill Creek, Washington