Gordon Hiles - I am an Underwater Cameraman and Film Maker

DAN Profile Article
Gordon Hiles is a 63year-old Underwater Cameraman and Film Maker. Originally from Pietermaritzburg, he has lived in Johannesburg, Durban, and currently resides in Cape Town.
Gordon began snorkelling and spearfishing as a 12-year-old in the mid-60s – mainly around Fish Hoek and the False Bay coast. His basic snorkelling equipment included a rugby jersey as a surrogate wetsuit and a home-made spear gun. His eldest brother (who is now an engineer) was already a bit of an inventor at the time, so they started trying their hand at underwater photography. The first prototype was an underwater stills camera a Kodak Instamatic 25 film camera. It was quite the ‘camera of the day, all enclosed in a homemade rubber casing  Together they managed to produce some simple but significant monochrome and colour photos. Although completely unaware of this at the time, these were the humble beginnings of what was to come in the years ahead.
After completing high school and National Service,in 1973, Gordon became one of the first 40 recruits to SABC TV. He progressed to become Principal Cameraman and, in 1984,he was asked to undergo scuba training to shoot a film on Cape Fur Seals. So, the simple underwater photography of the 60s quickly evolved into something much more meaningful. The film was shot at Dyer Island near Gans Bay: Seals… plenty; Great Whites … plenty; shark cages … none at the time!
Underwater filming opportunities were few and far between at that stage, but the skills were never lost, and his experience gradually accumulated. A landmark event for South Africa was his filming of a 1987 TV commercial for a fridge – all done entirely underwater. Then, in 1992, Gordon returned to Dyer Island to join Ron and Valerie Taylor for a Discovery Channel documentary on the development of the electronic shark pod device. This went one step further in 1993 when he shot the first National Geographic documentary on the White sharks of the region, together with a US film crew. Another highlight of his underwater filming career was his coverage of the ill-fated Dave Shaw dive at Boesmansgat in January 2005.
His favourite dive spots in the world include Borneo, Galapagos, and of course the very diverse Southern African coastline: From Big Animals to reefs.
Gordon considers DAN membership a necessary part of his continued involvement in diving. :“DAN provides the peace of mind that I feel is necessary when out on an expedition, and. And while I’ve never had to make any calls to DAN, the reassurance is always there. !”


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