By Dane Chronister | Lariat City Editor
Not many people can say they have had the opportunity to work with Jean Michel Cousteau, but Baylor senior lecturer, Curtis W. Callaway has done that and then some.
As a kid, Callaway grew up watching the Cousteau Society when they first started showing underwater films and first started exploring around the world. He always thought underwater videography and photography would be something he would like to do some day. However, he never thought he would get to work for the son of his childhood hero.
“I met one of the Cousteau divers while I was in college taking an underwater program because they sent their divers there to learn photography … So through that I met Jean Michel on a couple of projects that we teamed up on, and then I started getting pulled into some contracts with Jean Michel Cousteau.”
There are obviously some very different techniques when doing under water work that can be very difficult in themselves, but add a camera to the mix and things get that much more complicated.
“I learned everything I could from him as far as diving goes and he was willing to teach me anything I wanted to know about it. I had to streamline my diving skills so it would become second nature and I wouldn’t have to worry about it when I stuck a camera in my hand, because then you have to focus on getting good pictures or video or film, you can’t really think about your diving.”
Not only did Callaway get to dive in places many people have never been, but he has experiences from his journeys he will never forget.
“This got me into traveling overseas lecturing on cruise ships. I got to go to Vietnam a month after the embargo was lifted which was really interesting. I dove mostly in the Indo-Pacific … which were some of my favorite dives because of the amount of life. It’s like DisneyLand underwater.”
Not only does his love for nature and wildlife pour out in his work, but also into how he teaches his students and into his friends.
“Callaway sees differently, if there is a beautiful shot whether it’s landscape or wildlife, he gets it and it’s always perfect. That’s his hallmark,” said fellow senior lecturer in the journalism, public relations and new media department and friend Carroll Perry. “He has a very high standard for himself and he holds nothing back with his students. He’ll tell you everything, so that you can be the very best that you can possibly be,” Perry said.
As a professional, Callaway is respected by his peers and students for his humility in light of his many achievements.
“Callaway is a rock. He reminds me of a German Shepard. I’m not sure that you can upset him. I’ve not seen that; we’ve had an office next door for six years. He is a stickler for quality, I think as far as his personality goes, his gift to other people and certainly his commitment to the students,” Perry said.
Not only do his colleagues applaud him for his humility and his hardwork, but they applaud his caring and graceful heart.
“I’m blessed to have a fabulous photographer next door, all I have to do is say, ‘I need a shot, you don’t know a good photographer, do you?’ and he always says, ‘Ok, Carol, what do you want?’ and I get perfection back,” Perry said. “His easy going demeanor belies a lot of expertise and investment in people. Perry said. “It’s kind of unusual when you have someone who sees so much in nature, but yet he still invests tremendously in the people and is fully committed to helping the students.”
To Callaway’s students he is a friend, a mentor and a father figure. He not only makes time to teach students the course material, but he is willing to invest the time it takes to teach them what they want to learn outside of the classroom too.
“Callaway has been super great for me. He is always willing to go out and shoot. Anything I say I want to learn, he is all for going out and doing it. He’ll tell me exactly what I need to hear not neccessarily what I want to hear. … He has really become one of my best friends at Baylor,” said New Media senior Richard Hirst. “He is my goal of what I want to be someday.”
Callaway still loves to shoot photographs and videos in his spare time and teaches students everything he knows in the meantime. He hopes one day to be able to work for National Geographic.
“I have two major goals in life, one was Cousteau and the other is National Geographic, and I’m still working on the latter and I’m hoping I can get in there someday.”