Men may outnumber women in the scuba diving community, but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality. This series examines the remarkable achievements of famous female divers, like Becky Kagan Schott, and the contributions that they’ve made to numerous fields, including science, technology and conservation.
Becky Kagan Schott
At just 33 years old, American diver Becky Kagan Schott’s resume is truly impressive. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Schott’s affinity for the ocean was cemented at an early age, and when she took her first breath underwater while becoming scuba certified at 11 years old, her future career was decided. Two decades later, Schott is an Emmy Award-winning underwater videographer, photographer and technical diver, whose specializes in top-quality footage even under the most extreme conditions. With her husband (fellow cameraman, David Schott), Schott owns Liquid Productions INC, an underwater video production company that has become famous within the industry for succeeding in exceptionally challenging environments, including under ice, in caves and shipwrecks, and at extreme depth. In order to fill this niche in the underwater videography market, Kagan Schott necessarily holds a staggering number of scuba certifications. As well as being an instructor with SDI and NAUI, she is also a Technical Instructor and a Rebreather Instructor, and has multiple specialty certifications including ice diving, cave diving and tri-mix. When combined with her natural creativity and talent, this formidable list of qualifications explains why she has become so successful in such a short time.
In her 20 years as a diver, Schott has logged thousands of hours underwater. As a videographer, she has contributed to countless filming projects, including ones for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Perhaps some of her most impressive work includes her services as an underwater cameraman for the Discovery Channel series Bering Sea Gold: Under The Ice; and as the director of underwater photography for a documentary about Eagle’s Nest Cave in Florida, for which she won the Emmy Award. In 2012, Kagan Schott worked as a 3D-camera operator for Woods Hole Productions’ documentary Titanic: 100 Years In 3D. She has close ties with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory, and through them has helped to document several other famous wrecks, from the USS Monitor to the German U-boat U-869. Her experience with overhead environments (particularly beyond recreational diving limits) has led to her being commissioned for several shipwreck documentaries, including NOAA’s Battle Of The Atlantic Expedition and Project Shiphunt. In 2016, Kagan Schott’s ability to cope under extreme circumstances will be put to the ultimate test while working as the primary videographer for the Sedna Epic Expedition, which will see 10 female scientists and explorers tackle the incredible feat of relay snorkeling 1,800+ miles through the icy Northwest Passage.
As renowned as she is for her prowess as a videographer, Schott is also an accomplished still photographer. In 2011, she won the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest with her image of a freediver interacting with three wild dolphins in the Bahamas. Her images have been published in multiple magazines and in January 2013 her own photograph, taken by her husband, was featured on the cover of DIVER magazine. Kagan Schott’s career has allowed her to encounter and document many of the ocean’s most charismatic creatures in their natural habitat, including manatees, humpback whales, tiger sharks and great whites (the latter two without the protection of a cage). In recognition of her remarkable contribution to the worlds of underwater videography and aquatic exploration, Kagan Schott is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, and was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2013. Her achievements make her a role model for female divers everywhere, proving that women can succeed even in an industry as male-dominated as underwater cinematography. In the end, though, Becky Kagan Schott is an inspiration for every diver with aspirations of living a life less ordinary, male or female.
Images by Matt Vinzant and David Schott