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Photo Gallery

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Pantanal fisherman holds piranha out of biting range

"We're in the Pantanal, in Southwest Brazil near the Paraguay River. The Pantanal is a flat, physically depressed area that's home to the largest concentration of wildlife in the Americas. In the wet season, the basin fills up and all the animals have to live on little green knobs of land. I went during the very dry season, when the rivers become muddy and shallow and literally boil over with fish and alligators and big white birds.

"I'm with Jaca, a Pantanero cowboy, and we're fishing for lunch. Piranha is good for soups. The cowboys consider these fish to be a natural Viagra and aphrodisiac. Jaca was showing me how to hold one, the right way. He lost that finger doing it wrong, when he was twelve."

—Contributing Editor Charles Graeber

Photography Notes

  • Camera: Contax T3
  • Lens: Zeiss, 2.8/35mm
  • Shutter speed: n/a
  • Aperture: n/a
  • Time of day: n/a

"For this shot, I probably used a fill-in flash. I would have tried to get a shallow depth of field, to focus on two things: that the fish has an aggressive mug and many sharp little teeth, and that the man holding the fish is missing a finger. These two facts are related. I was trying not to make that obvious, but also not to let anyone miss it.

"I like the framing: hands, boat, person over there, river and jungle over there. I would have liked a shorter lens to give a more fish-eye quality, so that you could see the teeth and the finger a bit more, and feel the menace.

"I appreciate photography's ability to tell a story in a concise way. A good picture can condense a story as much as a poem can."

"This photo is interesting because it tells a story. You look at this photo and you immediately know that this guy is probably in the business of fishing for piranha. The story-telling elements alone are very good. We call this a 'detail shot' and it most likely would not be used on a stand alone basis. This photo would have more impact if it was shown with more images that round out the story of the person's life or the place in which it was shot. It's very sharp. I like how the fish is shot straight on. It makes it appear to be somewhat of an optical illusion.

"I wouldn't change anything about this photo. Perhaps I would have shot it from a couple of different angles; maybe I would have pulled back a little more. But, again, this is a detail shot. You need to get deep into the lives of the people and the place you're dealing with to tell a good story. You can't see the guy's face, but you know what he does, what his interests are, and what at least one aspect of his life has been like."

—Deputy Photo Editor Nell Hupman


June/July 2003

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