Candid Photos Document the Extraordinary Lives of Fishermen Out at Sea

When the economy took a downward turn in 2002 and photo assignments grew scarce, photographer Corey Arnold decided to return to his roots as a commercial fisherman, a job that he had pursued in 1995. Arnold packed his bags, headed north to Alaska, and landed a gig as a deckhand on a 43-foot cod jigger, which eventually led to a king crab job in the Bering Sea. For the next seven years, Arnold spent each icy winter aboard the vessel f/v Rollo hauling in crabs and other sea creatures. His two cameras, which he kept wrapped in Ziploc bags and duct tape on his bunk, served to document the extraordinary experience of working in one of the world's most dangerous professions.

Sleepless nights, freezing conditions, backbreaking labor, fierce storms, and roiling waves that crested up to forty feet were only some of the challenges that Arnold faced as a fisherman. Some of the best sights were lost to memory only, unable to be photographed because all hands were needed on deck during the most turbulent times. But in between chaotic moments of blood, sweat, and tears, Arnold captured spectacular images that highlight the unbelievable beauty of life out at sea. Gazing out at the wide expanse of blue water; standing only a few feet away from a majestic eagle feasting on fish remains; feeling the whirlwind motion of hundreds of birds flapping their wings as they wait to feed in the wake of the ship–these cinematic, raw snapshots paint a multifaceted picture of a lifestyle as exhilarating as it is exhausting.

Now, Arnold lives in Portland, Oregon, where he captains a wild sockeye salmon fishing operation based out of an abandoned cannery complex called “Graveyard Point.” His photos have been exhibited widely and featured in publications like The New Yorker, Esquire, and his very own book titled Fish-Work: The Bering Sea.

Corey Arnold's website
via [really-shit]

Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content