Photographer Captures Freediving Grandmas Who Delve Deep into the Ocean

Wonja Kang, 83-years-old.

A photographer captured the portraits of South Korea’s legendary “Grandma Divers,” aged ladies who freedive deep into the ocean for seafood.

Alain Schroeder tells PetaPixel that it was not straightforward to seize the ladies’s portraits however because the gorgeous photographs present, it was nicely value it.

“The primary time I noticed them popping out of the water in a protected bay with a basalt (volcanic) rock within the distance. I shot with a telephoto lens and the background was completely black,” he says.

“With the wetsuit, that black-on-black was visually fascinating. I made a decision to purchase a chunk of black material and shoot the divers in entrance of it wherever I may.”

After deciding that he would embark upon the mission, he initially had unhealthy luck due to a tropical storm stopping the ladies from diving.

“With just a few days left, I made a decision to purchase a chunk of black material and shoot the divers in entrance of it wherever I may,” he says.

“It was raining fairly laborious so the women have been ready to dive. I used to be fortunate to have the ability to make the most of that second.”


The ladies are identified regionally as haenyeo, feminine divers within the Korean province of Jeju who harvest mollusks, seaweed, and different sea life from the ocean.

“Carrying skinny rubber fits and old style goggles, this ageing group of girls are celebrated as a nationwide treasure and inscribed on the UNESCO listing of Intangible Cultural Heritage,” explains Schroeder.

“The overwhelming majority of Haenyeo are over the age of 60. A lot of the women I shot have been of their late 60s, or early 70s. They’re freediving to 10-20 meters, holding their breath for as much as two full minutes.”

Schroeder says that haenyeo is a troublesome and dangerous life-style that’s quickly disappearing as youthful ladies pursue different careers.

“A lot of the divers advised me they didn’t encourage their kids to dive. A lot of the ladies have been diving for 30-40 years and even longer,” he says.

“Though freediving for seafood has existed for a lot of centuries in Jeju, the follow was taken over by ladies within the 18th century remodeling the area right into a semi-matriarchal society.”

Nonetheless, numbers have dwindled because the Nineteen Seventies as much less arduous working alternatives have introduced themselves within the space.

“There are nonetheless about 4,000 women who make a residing gathering delicacies from the ocean,” provides Schroeder.

Black and White

Schroeder shot the mission on a Fujifilm Xpro2 with an 18mm lens. He selected black and white due to their neoprene go well with and he used a black backdrop that he hooked up to certainly one of their diving homes.

“I selected a location that might stay shaded if there was a break within the clouds as I didn’t need any solar within the photos,” he says.

“I used a wide-angle lens to go shut with a extra dramatic impact, and I used low-angle pictures to make the ladies seem stronger within the body. The gray gentle was excellent to set the temper for the photographs.”

Schroeder says the ladies put on their robust experiences on their wrinkled faces.

“It’s what they’ve been doing their complete lives and they’re happy with their traditions,” he says.

“The ladies have been troublesome to have interaction regardless that I had a neighborhood fixer who spoke Korean and their dialect.

“Lots of them have been detached. To maintain them standing in entrance of the backdrop lengthy sufficient to get the pictures, I requested them to display their day by day gestures of preparation and on the identical time reply to questions on their lives.”

After the shoot, Schroeder purchased a few of their seafood and ate it.

“I believe they’ve an excessive amount of strain from locals (there are nearly no western vacationers) who need to shoot selfies with them and at a sure level, it’s an excessive amount of,” he says.

“The work they do is admittedly laborious and most easily want to be left alone.”

Extra of Schroeder’s work will be discovered on his Instagram and web site.

Picture credit: All pictures by Alain Schroeder.

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