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Matinee: 'The Shell Fisherwomen of Galicia' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

23 November 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 229th in our series of Saturday matinees today: The Shell Fisherwomen of Galicia.

We mentioned Alvaro Ybarra's project photographing the shell fisherwomen in Galicia in an Around the Horn piece last week. So we were delighted to find this 4:51 video from Leica in which we walk out into the sea with him as he photographs these inspiring women.

Ybarra says Galicia in northwest Spain is the place he finds peace when he returns home from photographing war, catastrophes and humanitarian crises.

His latest assignment was Overcome The Impossible, a series on the consequences of the war in eastern Ukraine. He photographed the Avdeyevka coke plant which provides that key ingredient for the metallurgical industry and has never shut down despite 320 direct artillery hits from the Russians.

People ask him if he still believes in human beings after all the carnage he has seen?

People ask him if he still believes in human beings after all the carnage he has seen?

It's hard to say yes, he admits. But there is something about the Galician fisherwomen that restores his faith, he adds.

The women work in harsh conditions, he points out. As a photographer, he has to be at his best when he's out there with them.

It isn't easy. They wade out into chest-deep water with buckets floating in inner tubes, carrying long poles and nets as they sweep through strong tides in unpredictable weather to dig out the shellfish at their feet.

It is not glamorous work but, as his mother told him, a woman only takes a step back to get a running start. Their tenacity inspires the same in him.

Leica sent him out there with the new SL2 and the video is interspersed with many of the monochrome stills he took with it. From about the two minute mark, he talks about the camera as the video continues to showcase his stills of the Galician fisherwomen.

When we read the piece in the Leica blog that we referenced in the Horn article, we were struck by one statement:

It seems that human beings have taken the firm decision to destroy everything they love, such as life itself. And the truth is that this project is helping me recover some peace of mind and faith in ourselves as human beings. For me these women are an example of overcoming the odds and I will be eternally grateful to them for letting me photograph them and meet them.

Some people live lives that are an inspiration to others. For Ybarra, it's the fisherwomen of Galicia. And in this video it's easy to see why.

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