▲ Haenyeo diving holding an octopus. Photo by David Harvey
An exhibition of Jeju Haenyeo photos taken by American photographer David Alan Harvey was held recently in New York.
The exhibition was held at The Korea Society building in New York and contains 50 photographs showing haenyeo at work, in their daily life, and other scenes from country life on Jeju.
The photos were taken during the photographers 2014 trip to Jeju Island. During this time he spent three weeks with Jeju’s coastal communities taking the pictures.
In a previous interview with the Jeju Weekly during his time on the island, he stated that he was “looking for little moments and backstories in their homes and private lives.”
The final photographs do a great job of this and they show both the tough demands of the job and also the incredible community found amongst the haenyeo divers.
Of this, he said “I was amazed every morning by these strong women… It’s clearly very hard physical work and yet the women are constantly joking and laughing with each other.”
David likes to immerse himself in the lives of his subjects and he said, “My only hope of this set of photographs is that I hope you feel the warmth of the women, I hope you feel the connection that I had with the women.”
The photos were commissioned by The Korea Arts Council, while the exhibition itself was co-sponsored by Jeju Island and The Korea Society in commemoration of the entry of Jeju Haenyeo into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Of course, the listing was in part due to the fact that the number of haenyeo on the island are seriously dwindling and people seeing haenyeo for the first time through this photos will perhaps be surprised to see that many of the divers are aged over 60.
However, by bringing photos of these divers halfway across the world, their presence may just survive that little bit longer.
The legendary photographer has been a professional photographer for over fifty years since his first photobook, “Tell It Like It Is” was published in 1966. Since then he has shot over forty essays for National Geographic as well as publishing books of his own.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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