David Doubilet (born November 28, 1946) is a well known underwater photographer known primarily for his work published in National Geographic Magazine. He was born in New York and started taking photos underwater at the young age of 12. He started with a Brownie Hawkeye in a rubber anesthesiologist's bag to keep the water out of the camera. During his summer holidays, he spent his time along the New Jersey coast in Long Branch, later residing in the city's Elberon section. He later worked as a diver and photographer for the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratories in New Jersey. He also spent much time in the Caribbean. While a dive instructor in the Bahamas he found his motivation to capture the beauty of the sea and everything in it.
His goal as a photographer is to "redefine photographic boundaries" every time he enters the water. This has helped him achieve some of his greatest shots. In order to capture all the underwater wildlife, he takes several cameras with him on each of his trips. The main obstacle in underwater photography is the impossibility of changing lenses or film underwater.
Doubilet’s ingenuity lead him to the invention of the split lens camera. This allowed him to take pictures above and below water simultaneously. This worked by having a separate focus point on the top half and bottom half of the scene. When the picture is taken, it is recorded onto the same negative.
He has shot well over sixty stories for National Geographic and published numerous books on his own. His most recent was a photo shot in Cuban waters entitled "The Last Caribbean Refuge."
Doubilet graduated from Boston University College of Communication in 1970.
He is well known for his reports on the sea and has written many books in recent years, one of which includes Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by National Geographic. He has received many awards for his works, such as The Explorers Club's Lowell Thomas Awards and the Lennart Nilsson Award for scientific photography (2001).
Doubilet was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society in 2000. These are awarded to distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof.
Doubilet lives in Clayton, New York. Life in this small town near the St. Lawrence River is about old wooden boats, a nature studio to further his passion of the water. His second home is the small coastal town of Dekolder, South Africa.
Doubilet is a founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
- Interview in National Geographic News, 18 March 2003
- Nash, Margo. "PHOTOGRAPHY; Beneath The Sea, With Fins And Lens", The New York Times, June 11, 2000. Accessed September 17, 2013.