Why the name Sunguramy? Well, "sungura" is swahili for "rabbit" and rabbits have been a part of my life since I was 5 years old. However, "sungura" was already used when I started my Flickr account. To solve this, I appended the "my" creating Sunguramy, with the last 3 letters being the common form of my first name. I pronounce "Sunguramy" like "Soon-gur-ah-mae".
What all do you do? My schooling is for science, I have a Master's Degree and spent over 10 years as a 'lab rat' working in both the biotech world developing tools for scientists such as various assay kits, and the university world studying neuropathic pain. Now, I take my love for science underground as a part of TAG Cave Bioinventory project and Matienzo Karst Entomology Project (which you can follow us on twitter @karstentomology), and others. As a part of caving, I got into the rescue world joining a Cave Rescue Unit, and later, a K9 SAR team. So of course then training dogs became a big part of my life, and I am now a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) as well.
Why Photography? Aren't you a scientist? I have always enjoyed photography...I remember begging for a camera when I was young and getting a Polaroid for Christmas that year. I was five years old running around with that thing taking pictures left and right! A few Christmases later my parents got me a simple Nikon 35mm camera. Actually, as I look back through old negatives and prints I got some pretty nifty shots back then. I even won 5th overall at our state's 4-H photography exhibition when I was 11 with a photograph of a waterfall in a deep gorge.
Life changes and school started demanding my time. I forgot a lot about the artsy side of myself, delving into science. I found it again when I realized I was actually decent at computer graphics and started working as an in-house designer for the biotech company I was employed at as a researcher! I really wanted to get back into photography though, and finally, Christmas of 2009, family came through again and got my poor graduate student self a dSLR (Nikon D60). This started my exploration in the world of manual abilities on cameras. I love having full creative control, but found I hated carrying around all the lenses and the bulk and weight.
How did you get into caving? I went into my first cave on June 16th, 2010. I instantly fell in love. I think it's just one of those things that you are either a caver, or you're not. For me, the exploration, discovery, and adventure is great fun. Of course, I wanted to document my travels! However, there was no way was I risking my dSLR underground, the environments of caves are naturally a camera's worst enemy. It doesn't matter if it is in an otterbox or pelican case, eventually it gets exposed to the dust, mud, humidity, water, etc etc.
So I worked on developing alternate techniques. Does one really need a dSLR to shoot underground? I don't think so. People often forget: photography is painting with light. Under the surface of the earth, there is no light. I have found cave photography to be much more about how one uses the light available than anything else.
It is my goal to get the best photos I can, out of the smallest kit possible. You will never find me with 50 pound packs and I never ask people to carry my gear. There is no need for sherpas when my cave photography kit weighs less than three pounds and goes in my standard daypack with ease. I hope to prove that excellent cave photography doesn't have to use bulky and heavy kit.
Come and explore the underworld with me!