Exposure #1 - Yemen

My Gear: Nikon D3, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, 

Camera Settings: ISO 400, 1/160 at f/16

Year: 2009

Getting There: On this trip to Yemen, I went to cover specifically a segment of global food security. Yemen, being the poorest nation in the Middle East, and at that time, one of the most under-reported places in the World, I wanted to dig deep into this story and travel through as much of Yemen as possible to better understand the issue. With the great help of World Food Programme, I ended up all over the nation covering a surprisingly diverse population; migrant urban outcasts in urban centers of Sanaa and Taiz, fringe Jewish population's in active war zones, and Somali refugee's spilling across and risking life in the Gulf of Aden to land on the bleak shores of Yemen to somehow find a better life. 

In this photo, I wanted to better understand what life was like in hard-to-live fishing villages that dotted along the monochromatic landscape. How was food scarcity and security affecting these very remote places. Did access to fishing offset their lack of agrarian life? Did overfishing challenge their livelihood? Did increased commercial maritime traffic change how they fished? Did Somali piracy radically change fisherman routes? 

I drove over 4 hours from Yemen's second city, Taiz, to several bleak, remote and windswept fishing villages on the Red Sea coast. With just me and a local friend from Taiz, who the night before, family cooked me an incredible dinner, we set off to this coast line. 

One part I remember most was cruising through the desert and out of nowhere, 5 MiG 21's hugged the north desert horizon and eventually buzzed our little Land Cruiser. 

Eventually, I arrived in a very very small village and met a little girl outside her simple home. I asked her where her parents were and what they did for a living and ultimately found her dad at a local seaport, as she said, "my dad catches fish." 

We made arrangements and he agreed to take me out fishing for a few days in what turned out to be Somali pirate-controlled waters. 

Because fishing was so unproductive, and he had to risk going farther off-shore (into pirate waters) the cost-benefit was simply not there. 

Instead, he had offset his fishing losses and make it up by being a Somali refugee smuggler. This part I cannot show. 

What the photo doesn't show you: I dropped a 50mm lens off the boat. It's home now lives at the bottom of the Red Sea. It's way more humid that you would imagine. The salinity of the Sea is intense which made it really tough to keep lens elements clean. I essentially left Yemen space. I traveled to an undisclosed area that made my travel very illegal. Lastly, Western drones circled overhead - monitoring my movement.