Between land and sea

PhotographerGilles Nicolet
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The balmy air and the bountiful waters of the Swahili coast have attracted traders and provided for fishermen, for hundreds of years.The communities live off the bounties of the sea - harvests of shark, shrimp and seaweed - but also off a land of sand and petrified coral bearing groves of coconut and coastal forests. These natural resources have provided a self-sustained lifestyle to the communities for centuries. Along the bejewelled coast, scenes of toil and hard work are common. A walk along these shores awakens a nostalgia, dormant in modern human memory. At dawn, throngs of fishmongers wade neck-deep in the ocean flats as the fishermen return from a night at sea, evoking the feeling of being in a fresco. Men, their bodies gleaming in the sun, sort through massive heaps of coconuts, while a young man takes his day’s catch back home.

About Photographer

I am a self-taught photographer who has been living and working in Africa for many years now. I always had a special interest in anthropology and ethnography, something that I hope helps me capture the essence of my subjects. In the past most of my stories where about rare traditions that somehow linked man and wildlife, but Africa has changed a lot in the last few decades and unfortunately most of these traditions have now disappeared. My recent work has therefore been more personal and contemplative and less focused on narrative picture stories aimed at magazines. I have also moved away from color photography and now only shoot in black and white. I am presently working on a book on the Swahili Coast - a unique physical, historical and cultural entity that runs from Southern Somalia all the way to Mozambique. This current work is but the first leg of a photographic journey where I will be looking at the fate of disadvantaged fishing communities the world over.