Men at Sea.  Photographs by Jean Gaumy.

Men at Sea.

Photographs by Jean Gaumy.
Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2002. 276 pp., 100 black-and-white illustrations, 9½x11½".

Credentials are completely irrelevant when it comes to this work; it does not matter if Gaumy is a sailor (he is, having spent a great deal of time at sea between 1984 and 1998), nor whether he works as a professional (an eminent photojournalist for both Gamma and Magnum agencies). The impact of this work, greatly enhanced by the superb sequencing and design of the book, is awesome. Shot entirely in black-and-white, Gaumy's images are rough, in-your-face, and frightening. The seagoing lives of these commercial fishermen are treacherous, and frugal, and fraught with obvious danger as they sail the high seas on open-decked trawlers, a boat that is becoming more and more of a rarity. Passages from Gaumy's log book punctuate the brilliant photography.

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