Two Fish PhotoBooks—color and black & white
Fishing was a way I made a living when I was young, adventurous, and had a strong back, all three of which have fallen a bit by the wayside of life. Fishing gave me experiences beyond measure, showed me rugged country beyond accessible to the casual traveler or observer, taught me hard work beyond all other before or since. It greatly informed who I’ve become.
It’s what the book Fishing for a Living in Alaska’s Southeast is all about: stories and photos from the boom-&-bust, wild-&-wooly days of the 1980s—written, photographed and published in present-tense 1983-1988. It’s an inside look at the commercial fishing industry in Alaska during the ’80s from a woman who fished the back deck as crew three years, then covered the fisheries another three as fish writer/photographer for the fish papers of the day. A big, beautiful 11×13 coffee table book with over 300 photos and 10 previously published stories in 230 pages. Now available in the small 8×10 format in entirety—as well as serialized into 3 separate volumes—at this Blurb books link: Jana Suchy’s Bookstore.
I very much enjoyed my newfound voice of extemporaneous writing in this first book—the newly written caption-and-sidebar glue that holds the stories from the ’80s together—as opposed to the details, focus and research inherent to fish reporting or writing for hire. So much so that I’m eager to write a second book to feature the long-buried black-&-white photographs amassed during the Alaska fish years. I promise it’s not going to take the same 30 years to become a reality now that I’ve got the skunk off the deck.
8 November 2013: The Next Book
Well, it’s true—I started the black-&-white book. Dug into my pile of B&W negatives and contact sheets for the first time in 25 years and discovered a real treasure trove in there. Back then before Photoshop I always used two cameras, one for color film, the other B&W. But even color film was primitive and limiting and typically couldn’t take a picture in low light, so that’s when I’d switch to the fast film of black and white. And there’s stuff in there I’ve never seen before, lots of Men At Work shots on hook-and-line boats, salmon trolling and longlining halibut, rockfish, sablefish and gray cod. From the fishing grounds, on the back deck, catching fish, doing gearwork, offloading to seafood plants, and the slime line of workers processing the fish. It’s all there.
Then my attic once more revealed the original manuscripts I’d written for fishing magazines at the height of the madness that was longlining before IFQs (Individual Fishing Quotas) changed everything. Everything. Took the wide-open right out of fishing. These stories with titles like “Black Cod—Take No Prisoners” and “The Latest War Zone” chronicle the frenzy of what I call the Deadly Derbies of the ’80s, fishing “seasons” squashed into brutal openings of mere hours, typically just 24, 36, 48—or even 12. Madness, I tell you. This second book is slated to be a gritty piece of history comparable to the crazy fervor of a gold rush. It tells a story about closing The Last Frontier, when they fenced-in fishing. Stay tuned …