Super course super coach

By Martha Hoffman

To travel and dive with a good friend who is also an inspiration and a great source of help is a joy unequaled. That is how people feel about traveling and diving with Cathy Church. She becomes a good friend right away because she cares about each person;she is ready to help, she is sympathetic to their problems, she is excited about their triumphs and she laughs at their jokes. Add to this an incredible store of knowledge of underwater photography, and you have a unique travel companion.

Exotic Trips

An important ingredient for each trip is the type of people Cathy and Herb accept for their trips. They try to get to know each participant in advance and look for people who are easy to get along with and who take their good times with them. They enjoy people who are fun to be with, so all nice people, photographers and non-photographers alike, are welcome to join their friendly group.

Cathy is known around the world for the way she helps everyone during her trips with everything from emergency repairs to exposure questions. Underwater, she will even put her own camera to the side to make sure everyone gets a good opportunity to see and photograph the special creatures. On the Bilikiki tours she gives a free five day photo course that includes daily lectures, critique and help in the water.

Herb manages all the travel arrangements, including air, baggage, overnight stays, add-on land tours and, of course, the social calendar. Herb and Cathy think nothing of taking the entire group out for dinner and drinks. They do lots of the little things that make a trip special, such as giving T-shirts to the guests and the crew, bringing party favors for birthdays and sending out group photos after the trip. No one makes being a tour leader such a complete profession!

Super Courses

If you are interested in learning how to improve your underwater photography, there is no better photo course than Cathy's week-long Super Courses at Sunset House Hotel in Grand Cayman.

There are three elements to these great courses;learning, superb service and lots of good humor. The courses start on arrival day, cameras are checked out and the basic talk starts with 'This is the front of the camera and this...' Topics quickly advance to the basics of composition and the subtleties of a scene to get the best possible photograph.

Throughout the week Cathy uses lecture, critique and lots of individual help above and underwater in a systematic approach to assure that everyone realizes their best potential. In logical fashion she covers ambient light, flash fill, close-up, wide angle, multiple strobes and, of course, buoyancy and balance underwater with a camera. While several of the equipment talks center on the Nikonos system, Cathy also teaches those with the Nikonos RS, Sea & Sea systems and housed cameras.

The service is incredible;your gear is carried for you to and from the boat. During each three hour dive, you simply go to the stern of the boat where a dry photo instructor will change film, lens or batteries, while two other instructors change your tank and offer you marvelous snacks of fruit, candy, cookies and soft drinks. Cathy and another instructor are in the water with the group helping with camera settings, critters, posing or whatever else is needed.

On close-up day, Herb brings his tame angelfish right into your close-up kit framer for a stunning portrait. On the grotto dive, Cathy takes you to the very same light beam that is the subject of her signature print 'Light Beams at Devil's Grotto.' On the wall dive they will help you with lots of subjects Cathy herself has immortalized.

And at just the right moment, in between all the serious stuff, you'll find yourself enjoying a laugh. This is not a school with tests and competition. And, graduation night is like nothing you have seen before. Cathy balances the emphasis on learning and getting great photos with having fun on a wonderful vacation. Call her for the brochure describing the 1998 Super Courses.

Full Service Photo Centre

In Grand Cayman, Cathy Church's Underwater Photo Centre and Galleries at Sunset House (and a second mini-location at Coconut Place on Seven Mile Beach) are a Mecca for any visitor interested in taking photographs underwater or in just wandering through her busy gallery.

You can enjoy afternoon half day classes (which qualify you for the PADI or SSI photo specialty) or get an easy free mini-lesson when you rent a Nikonos, Sea & Sea or video camera system. Her wonderful staff presents the material just as Cathy would, and sometimes even the jokes are the same. Cathy wants every visitor to have the best time possible. If you miss a dive and can't use the camera you rented, there is never a charge. Cathy's attitude is it's bad enough you couldn't dive, you shouldn't lose money on an unused camera rental, too.

Cathy is available many weeks of the year for private instruction for beginners or for more advanced instruction. This popular format allows you to set your own pace, and can include shore dives, boat dives or private charter.

The Photo Centre offers virtually every service a photographer needs. Fast, reliable repairs are available every day for Nikonos V cameras and lenses. They offer thorough testing and maintain a complete stock of Nikonos parts. Make an appointment to have your camera overhauled before arrival or before you go home. Cathy's first rate E-6 lab uses careful monitoring techniques to maintain consistent high quality color slide film processing every day of the week. And they sell a complete line of Nikonos, Sea & Sea, Ultralight strobe arms, extension tubes, film, batteries, Sekonic light meters and even RS teleconverters.

But Cathy is rarely overly serious. When asked about the fake foot protruding from the camera cabinet, Cathy replies that it is just there to keep a smile on your face.

Cathy Church Collection

As you take the stairway to either of her galleries, there is no warning just how beautiful the photographs will be. Her huge inventory includes more than 60 images, most available in six sizes, in up to 10 different metal or wood frames and a large selection of mats. And, she can ship your print within the United States at no charge.

The 11 by14 to 30 by 40 inch prints are hand printed on Fuji super high gloss material by Spectrum Sea Color in Binghamton, New York. Unlike regular prints, they will last virtually forever without fading! These breathtaking photos are available at affordable prices, and much of the collection is even available as magnets. Call (800) 934-3661 for a color brochure of the Cathy Church Collection. This number is for print inquiries and orders only.)

Please stop in during your next visit to Grand Cayman. Cathy always enjoys introducing more people to the beauty of the underwater world.

You can contact Cathy at P.O. Box 479, Grand Cayman, BWI; phone (345) 949-7415, fax (345) 949-9770 or e-mail brochure requests to cathy@cathy Visit her Web site at