Octopus Monday: James Morgan and the Bajau Laut

The Bajau Laut - James Morgan

The Bajau Laut - James Morgan

Generally speaking, as a fan of cephalopods I prefer mine to be alive, but James Morgan’s photo series documenting the life of the Bajau Laut sea nomads is a worthy exception. These images are the product of seven months spent with the Bajau people and demonstrate the close relationship they have with the creatures they hunt.

The image above contrasts the dark muscle of the diver with the ghostly pale flesh of the octopus. Being able to make out the textures of the octopus’ skin and the swollen vein in its sac-like body highlights the delicate softness and vulnerability of the creatures (as well as a handy metaphor for the Bajau Laut way of life which is being threatened by destructive fishing techniques).

The bio on James’ website explains that he “merges a fine art aesthetic with a rigorously ethnographic methodology, stressing intimacy with his subject matter and working out of compassion, respect and understanding for the people and issues he is fortunate enough to photograph. It is this approach that enables him to capture unique and stunning images from some of the most remote places in the world.”

The Bajau Laut - James Morgan

Jatmin, an octopus specialist, carries a freshly speared octopus back to his boat.

A personal favourite is the image below. The octopus is dragged out of the water and into the boat – lifeless and deathly pale with only the ends of the tentacles still submerged and showing the beauty of the creature in its natural habitat.

The Bajau Laut - James Morgan

Jatmin climbs back into his boat having speared an octopus, Wakatobi, Indonesia.

You can see the full photo series in the Bajau Laut section of James’ website.

He is also taking part in the ‘Here and Now’ exhibition at London’s Hotshoe Gallery, 12-24 May.

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