GUE Documentation Diver

Course Outcomes


GUE’s Documentation Diver course is designed to introduce divers to sound documentation techniques orbiting project-based diving. Other course outcomes include: basic training in photography/videography, the use of related equipment, specific team-skills needed during documentation diving, specific communication requirements, the establishing of clear objectives and work-plans, the management of team tasks, how to create a report, how to map, survey, and prepare material for media publication.




Applicants for a Documentation Diver course must:

  1. Submit a completed registration form, a medical history, and a liability release to GUE Headquarters.
  2. Be physically and mentally fit.
  3. Hold insurance that will cover diving emergencies such as hyperbaric treatment, e.g. DAN Master-level insurance or equivalent.
  4. Be a nonsmoker.
  5. Obtain a physician’s prior written authorization for the use of prescription drugs, except for birth control, or for any prior medical condition that may pose a risk while diving.
  6. Be a minimum of 18 years of age.
  7. Have passed GUE Fundamentals (Recreational or Technical pass) or Rec 1.
  8. Must have a minimum of 75 logged dives beyond open water certification or 25 logged dives beyond GUE Fundamentals certification.


Course Content


The Documentation Diver course is normally conducted over four days and requires six dives and a minimum of 32 hours of instruction encompassing classroom and in-water work.


Documentation Diver Specific Training Standards



  1. Student-to-instructor ratio is not to exceed 8:1 during land drill or surface exercises, but cannot exceed 4:1 during any in-water training.
  2. Maximum depth limited to 100 feet/30 meters.
  3. No overhead instruction unless the course is conducted by an active GUE Cave 1 instructor to trainees with a minimum certification of GUE Cave 2. All diving must remain within Cave 1 limits, reserving gas limits as required by cave 1 standards.



Required Training Materials

GUE training materials and recommended reading as determined by the course study packet received via online download after GUE course registration.


Academic Topics


  1. Project planning and management 
  2. Photo equipment specifics
  3. Video equipment specifics
  4. Camera techniques
  5. Composition
  6. Lighting techniques
  7. Survey and mapping tools
  8. Mapping and survey skills
  9. Dive planning specific for documentation diving
  10. Operational planning 
  11. Support and support materials
  12. Team responsibilities
  13. Team planning and diving
  14. Building and organizing a media database
  15. Editing of video and photo material
  16. Preparing materials for publishing
  17. Publishing and uploading full project report


Land Drills & Topics


  1. Photo camera preparation and maintenance
  2. Video camera preparation and maintenance
  3. Survey and mapping
  4. Composition practice
  5. Dive team order and protocols
  6. Use of spools and reels
  7. Basic navigation skills
  8. Visual referencing skills
  9. Pre-dive drills


Required Dive Skills & Drills


  1. Demonstrate proficiency in safe diving techniques; this would include pre-dive preparations, in-water activity, and post-dive assessment.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of team member location and concern for safety, responding quickly to visual indications and dive partner needs.
  3. Demonstrate a safe and responsible demeanor throughout all training.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in underwater communication.
  5. Demonstrate basic proficiency managing GUE’s base equipment configuration.
  6. Demonstrate safe ascent and descent procedures.
  7. Demonstrate good buoyancy and trim, i.e. approximate reference is a maximum of 30 degrees off horizontal while remaining within 5 feet/1.5 meter of a target depth. 
  8. Must be able to swim at least 400 yards/365 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping. This test should be conducted in a swimsuit and, where necessary, appropriate thermal protection.
  9. Must be able to swim a distance of at least 60 feet/18 meters on a breath hold while submerged.
  10. Demonstrate proficiency adjusting buoyancy while managing camera equipment.
  11. Demonstrate effective use of compass and navigation.
  12. Demonstrate proper procedures for gas sharing and regulator switching as appropriate.
  13. Demonstrate familiarity with required course equipment.
  14. Demonstrate proficiency in managing breathing system failures, including proper assessment and valve manipulation with regulator switching as appropriate.
  15. Demonstrate proficiency with effective decompression techniques, including depth and time management.
  16. Demonstrate the ability to capture predetermined imagery underwater.
  17. Demonstrate the ability to draw a map underwater.
  18. Demonstrate the ability to accurately record data underwater.
  19. Demonstrate proficiency in surface marker buoy deployment.
  20. Demonstrate proficiency in reel, spool, and guideline use.
  21. Demonstrate proficiency with effective decompression techniques, including depth and time management.


Equipment Requirements

GUE base configuration as outlined in Appendix A, plus:


  1. Photographic Equipment: any digital photo camera suitable for underwater photography, preferably in a housing and able to sustain a minimum water pressure of 100 feet/30 meters. An underwater flash is highly recommended (if not available, underwater video lights may be suitable). Manual adjustment (aperture/shutter) on the camera is preferred.
  2. Video Equipment: any digital video camera suitable for underwater videography, preferably in a housing and able to sustain a minimum water pressure of 100 feet/30 meters. An underwater video lighting system is highly recommended. Manual adjustment (aperture/shutter) on the video camera and a wide-angle lens with adapter is preferred.
  3. Computer system: any Windows or Mac-based computer (preferably a laptop) with software designed for video and photo editing, an internet connection, and word processing software installed.


 Explore GUE Standards

Note: Prior to the commencement of class, students should consult with a GUE representative to verify equipment requirements. Whether or not a piece of equipment fulfills GUE’s equipment requirement remains at the discretion of GUE and its instructor representatives. Participants are responsible for providing all equipment or for making provisions to secure the use of necessary equipment before the start of the course. In general, it is better for the student to learn while using his or her own equipment. However, students should exercise caution before purchasing new equipment to avoid acquiring substandard equipment. Please contact a GUE representative prior to making any purchases. Information about recommended equipment can be obtained from the equipment considerations section of GUE's Web site.