Before I start getting into the sets of images I wanted to outline some interesting details about the Moken people:
– Moken’s spend the majority of their time living on the water, with the exception of being monsoon season.
– Moken children learn to swim before they can walk.
– Moken’s speak a unique language, we often had to ask a question in English, which then had to be translated into Burmese, which then had to be translated into Thai, which then had to be translated into Moken. (Eventually I was able to figure out how to communicate with one of the Moken fathers strictly with basic hand signals.)
– They build wooden boats, usually (but not limited to) from a single tree. A Moken family may have a larger family boat and smaller row boats in tow. The smaller boats are almost always carved from a single trunk by hand.
– The main source of food for Moken families comes from the ocean, the are expert fishermen. If they want a meal, they will literally jump into and spear something. Mokens are able to get cash by selling fish or shells to tourists or other locals, and these limited funds may be used to purchase fuel, oil or rice.
– Mokens typically do not have last names or keep track of birthdays, therefore, you cannot tell how old a Moken individual is.
– Sadly, there are only a handful of full blooded Mokens left. Only 28 families in the area we visited. Many of them are now intermarrying with Thai and Burmese and their way of life is slowly disappearing. I would say just a few more generations and they will be completely gone.
– It seemed that Moken people and way of life were frowned on by other locals, it wasn’t something I can give evidence for here specifically, but suffice it to say, it felt like there was some friction there.
– We were extremely fortunate to meet 2 Moken families that were very co-operative, especially the second family. You will be seeing a lot of their images. Paul and I decided to approach each shoot as a team, because I had more experience shooting in the water and could scuba dive, I handled most of the water shooting and Paul did more of the above water shooting, however, he did get into the water several times and used the SPL housing while I used the Ikelite Housing.
Two problems I ran into early on:
1. Debris in the water, this will kill any water shoot. If you have it, using a flash just makes it worse. Most of the shoots we did relied on natural light.
2. The water seemed to bead more on my fisheye port when shooting half in/half out, we resolved this by using “Mask Defog” 1-2 times each shoot.
Lot of great images coming the next few days….