‘The Ocean’s Vow’ is a collection of 30, 297 x 420 mm (A3 sized) photographs by photographer Daréll Lourens.
These images show the lives of the subsistence fishermen in Vilankulo, Mozambique. The exhibition was hosted by Bahia Mar Boutique hotel and 60% of the (ongoing) profits are donated to the Bonguili Project, which addresses the lack of kindergartens in the area.
My first photographic exhibition was – by far – one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I found actually printing, framing and hanging my work way harder than compiling an album on Facebook or sharing on Instagram. I think it has something to do with being in the same space as your audience, seeing their reactions first hand and literally standing by your work. I’ not sure. What I am sure of is that it was helluva intimidating.
Susana Vidal – general manager at Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel – and I recently made the entire collection available for purchase online, and I now find myself wanting to reflect on some of these landscapes and portraits I took in the Bazaruto Archipelago – my new home – so I can remember the story behind each picture in detail for years to come.
There is something about a man and his boat …
The above portrait of Domingos and his dhow (boat) Pavane, was one of the very first pictures I took when I started working on this series. I initially only focused on (male) fisherman and their dhows, because no one could point to one of these many dhows – possibly the most iconic image of Vilankulo – and say who owned them.
DOMINGOS AND PAVANE (above) was taken shortly after sunrise, early May 2016. Dominogos’s cap – with the emblem of the South African rugby team – was the first thing I noticed.
‘Did a tourist give it to him? A South African guy who came fishing one December? Or did he buy it at one of the many second hand clothing stalls in the village market?’, I thought to myself, smiling at the possibility of a staunch rugby supporter in this small fishing village on the shores of the Bazaruto Archipelago, where there is not a single rugby field in sight for miles.
At this early stage of the project not many of the local fisherman I asked for permission to take their picture really felt comfortable or agreed, so when Domingos smiled and nodded, he – unbeknownst to him – catapulted the project into motion, allowing others to follow suit.
One afternoon – in that very same week in May – this boy in is orange T-shirt and denim jacket (above) actually asked me to take his portrait. After printing this picture and giving it to the boy a few days after, I learned that it was the very first printed photograph he ever received of himself. I then started doing the same with each of the portraits I took, whether I planned to include them in the final selection to exhibit or not.
I am often asked if the picture below – FISH IN HIS POCKET – was staged. More often than not, people don’t believe me when I say ‘no’. Why he wore his suit to go fishing, I’m afraid I won’t ever know, but I can speculate: It might be one of the few pieces of clothing he owns? Maybe he came straight from a funeral or a function? I personally think a more likely explanation could be that he simply needed pockets to put each small fish he earned by helping to pull in the catch of the day.
Most of these images are still available unframed and sell at 150 US$ each. I sign and ship the print to you wherever you are in the world. Please consider purchasing some as the 60% I donate to the pre-school project here in Vilankulo, is so tally worth it and every penny goes much, much further than you’d think.