Forever on the lookout for individuals capturing corners of Goa we ourselves have yet to explore, 'Sea, my home' is a photo series we recently encountered documenting the daily lives of Goa's coastal fishing communities by Prajwal Nagaraj.
A young photographer from Bangalore, we wanted to find out what drew him to Goa and ask a few questions about his work & the experiences he took away from a photo session at sea.
When did you start this series & what inspired you to document the fishermen of Goa?
I like to photograph small businesses and local products. I want to understand and capture the hardships these local businesses have to go through on a daily basis to get the end product.
Fishermen are like nomads of the Sea and I always thought their life is full of vivid colors as they sail through the sea. They've been a subject of interest for me for many reasons. They call the sea their home, and the boats their livelihood. They live through the storms and sea-rage, their eyes are fixed on a price that comes trapped in a net. The sunburns, salty skin and the smell that one couldn’t possibly forget.
They all cook, eat and sleep on a boat, which seems like a simple life, yet it comes with its own price. They fish for 15 days sometimes, sometimes till the trawler is filled, sometimes it is just for 2 to 3 days which I had taken part with them.
What was it like being out at sea with them & how did they respond to having you as a passenger/photographer on board?
It was difficult - the scorching sun, salt on my skin and the smell of fish, Fish scales all over my body and not to forget my sea-sickness. The best thing was how they go to the toilet (see above), I had to quickly adapt. I'm sure my family thought I was crazy when I told them I'm going to be on a boat living a fishermen's lifestyle.
I was surprised looking at these 20 fishermen being in the middle of the sea, just catching fish having the same food every day and doing the same with no phone network. It’s a routine they follow - get up, eat, fish and sleep.
They were very welcoming and excited to show me their lifestyle. Some of them were also interested in understanding what I am doing and why I am doing this. Some were really happy to get photographed. They were even learning to use my camera, asking me about my life, and what I am going to do with their photographs. We were sleeping on fishing nets, having meals together and in no time I felt I was one amongst them.
What is something you learned from this experience you hadn't expected?
I felt like I'm testing my limits by putting myself in an unfamiliar world. I didn't realize this until I was in the middle of the sea with no land in sight. There was no escape then and I couldn't get tired while shooting. I chose to eat the same food as the fishermen and experience everything they did.
Through this experience, though short, I definitely learned to appreciate life a little more and how blessed I am.
Is there any specific text or story that accompanies your photos?
This is the only series I would love not to give any text as each photograph stands on its own.
What got you interested in photography to begin with?
To be honest, I had no idea where I would end up in life and started to travel. I visited a few places in Europe, met so many people and knew I loved to meet new people and talk about their journey and life experiences. After I was back from Europe, I had forgotten the faces of some of the people I had spoken to. That's when I thought I should've photographed them. This led me to a photography school and I am proud to say I only realized this is my passion after I chose this path.
So what brought you to Goa?
I came to Goa to study photography in The One School Goa.
What projects are you currently working on & what would you love to document next?
I just finished shooting Holi in Mathura and am currently working on a theatre play documentary in Mangalore focussing on “Yakshagana”.
After that, I am looking forward to documenting the jaggery making process and makers lifestyle... I also have a sweet tooth and it would be a childhood dream to be around just jaggery.
On your Instagram feed, you also have photos from a local feni distillery, can you tell us a bit about that?
When I came to Goa, Feni was my first documentary. I remember I was leaving Bangalore, my dad had mentioned I should try feni in Goa. As I tried it, I wanted to learn more about what is Feni and how is it made. But of course, there are not as many Feni tasting tours as Wine tasting tours.
So I found a place where they make Feni and to my surprise, it was a small process. But after talking to the person who is preparing it, I loved how the family lived in such a small place with their kids and spent time making feni. I had to share their story.
Find images from the series here.