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Todd Gary Essick was raised in the Chicago area, spending summers in Ocean City, New Jersey and Winter breaks in South Florida, where he first became enchanted with the sea as a child. After moving to Florida he attended a commercial art school. During his last semester an interest in photojournalism was sparked by an internship with the Miami Herald. The photographic image became the focus of his artistic and professional life. Working as a professional freelance photojournalist for almost a decade, he covered daily news, sports and special interest stories, including drug and refugee interdiction in the Caribbean, the riots in Miami, the civil war in Central America and the Olympics. He has tackled some of the most intense and challenging assignments possible, primarily freelancing for the Associated Press in Miami. Throughout his career he has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world. Yet throughout his photojournalism career he continued to use scuba diving and the ocean as his escape from the business of photography. As tabloid news blurred the lines in mainstream journalism he became disenchanted with the industry. He retired the camera in order to pursue other interests. Ironically, it was during this time away from the camera that he conceptualized this underwater photography project and made a decision to take on his toughest and most rewarding assignment yet.