Aitutaki Island Spear Fishing - Personal Work

Aitutaki Island Spear Fishing - Personal Work I love photography and I love creating visual stories. One of the stories I really wanted to create while living in the Cook Islands, was a day in the life series on a local spear fisherman.

I was drawn to the subject of spear fishing for a couple of reasons:

One, I have a growing interest in understanding where people's food comes from.

Two, I love shooting above and below the water with a water proof housing for my camera.

Three, I'm genuinely interested in meeting local people in the islands and learning more about their way of life.

A big part of shooting personal work such as this, is actually finding a local who spear fishes and who is okay with having a photographer shadowing their every move for a day or two. That may sound easy, but it is often harder than you may think.

After putting out the word, I was incredibly fortunate to meet Campbell Cecil. Campbell is a local on Aitutaki Island, who goes out spear fishing a couple of times a week. He does it to put some extra food on the table. He was exactly the type of person I was looking to meet.

The day of the shoot dawned clear and blue with barely a cloud in the sky. After meeting Campbell at his house, we drove our bikes down to the lagoon edge, carried his dinghy to the water's edge, then slowly rowed it out into the lagoon. As I readied and checked my water housing seals, Campbell donned his flippers and mask, grabbed his spear fishing gun and quietly slipped into the water. I followed him and for the next three to four hours', he patiently sum around the lagoon, searching for and spearing fish in amongst the lumps of coral.

When I'm photographing a story like this, I'm always thinking of how the images will look in the final story. After years' of taking photos, I instinctively know when I have a great shot. When that happens, I begin thinking about what the next shot should be. A big part of this process is thinking about different points of view. Creating imagery with different points of view is critical to a visually interesting story. Such an approach keeps the viewer interested in the photos.

Ways of doing this are many. For this shoot some of the techniques included:

- Changing the height of my camera relative to Campbell. Some photos I make the sky the background (that's a low point of view). Others, I make the sand the background (that's a high point of view).

- Varying the focal length. This is quite hard with a single water housing as my surf housing doesn't allow for an adjustable lens. I did however open my housing part way through the shoot and manually adjust the focal length.

- Capturing a variety of different shots. The photos below are a mix of action (opening photo), overview (photos three and four below), closeup (photo five and eight) and detail photos (photo nine). Taking photos of Campbell doing distinctively different things throughout the session, not only helps tell the story of what he is doing, it also keeps the story visually interesting.

Meeting Campbell and having the opportunity to photograph him spear fishing was an incredibly satisfying experience. I hope these photos provide an insight into part of Campbell's life as a Cook Islander.

View all the photos from this shoot: Cook Islands | Spear Fishing Aitutaki


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