June 5, 2015

{Los Angeles Photographer: Fisherman Mr. Huang Yue Chuang- Li River, China}

My dreams of nice weather proved to be just that, dreams. At 6am when I saw it was still pouring, I emailed Jack and told him we could meet at 8 rather than 7. Every road, every way was blocked. Landslides, floods, you name it-we had it. Stumbling upon a small farming village we walked the rice paddies. Stepping forward my foot sunk into loose mud. It was no longer an objective to keep my shoes dry. The rain had stopped momentarily so I could capture some photographs of the area.

Expectations, they really do hinder your view and concept on things. I’d built up the scenery of this town and wanted so badly to capture images as I had imagined yet unforeseen circumstances prohibited that. I needed to just be grateful that I was here in China and perhaps the images I was capturing, I was meant to capture.

Life really is about perspective, whether or not you have a good experience in a place or with a person, on your first encounter determines so much. We tend to make quick judgments and end up lacking a full understanding. Had I been in this city with amazing weather I’d have probably said it was the most spectacular place. With all things however, you have to take the good and the bad. Without the rain these landscapes would not be so lush.

Playing Russian roulette with weather has been disheartening. We ate lunch quickly and hiked up to Xianggong Hill. The mist/fog was heavy but I was able to get some shots. Back in the car, we headed towards Xingping where we would meet Mr. Huang, weather pending, and photograph him fishing. Previously plans had me photographing him tomorrow before heading to the airport but I was scared with weather and time.

We walked over to a small bamboo raft, the water in the Li river was filthy. All the garbage and run down from the streets filters into the river, it was sad. The raft took us to a little island area where we met Mr. Huang Yue Chuang, the oldest and last of the real fisherman, using cormorant birds to catch his fish. He’s 72-years-old.  These birds are trained from birth and are basically a slave to their master fetching fish in the sea and bringing them back to the fisherman. With the change of times as well as the development of new technology, this generation won’t use the cormorants to catch the fish from the Li river anymore. There are also not too many fish available in the river and it is very inefficient to use cormorants to catch what fish there is left. The traditional fishing culture is disappeared day by day. The older fisherman however need to support their family so they’ve become models for photographers.

I learned today that everyone wants to photograph Mr. Huang yet he’s very particular about who he lets take his photos. As others crowded around to take his picture he yelled in Chinese. In the few moments that it began to rain he asked to see my photos. One by one he would get all excited. He told Jack he was very satisfied with the photographs I captured of him.

Nicole Priest Photo-Yangshuo 1 copy

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Nicole Priest Photo-Yangshuo 19 copy

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