Corey Arnold’s Fish Work

2 minute read

Well before Corey Arnold ever thought about photography, he fished. As a child, he dressed as a fisherman for four consecutive Halloweens, and once brought a dead 3-foot Mako shark to school for show-and-tell. He knew he wanted to be a professional fisherman, even if he didn’t understand what that actually meant. What was a recreational escape for his father became an identity for him.

After studying photography in college, Arnold sought a way to combine those two parts of his life. He eventually found work on a crab boat in Alaska’s Bering Sea, an extremely dangerous and once obscure job, now popularized by the television show Deadliest Catch.

Arnold is transparent about being as much participant as observer in his pictures, and some of the most beautiful images from his seven years aboard the Rollo and the Two Bears are both more collaborative and introspective in nature, documenting the drudgery of the work, reflecting the surreal perception of the world brought about by isolation and lack of sleep during months spent at sea, and exploring the complicated and sometimes violent relationship between humans and the natural world.

Nazraeli Press recently brought the work together in Arnold’s first book, Fish Work: The Bering Sea. Signed copies can also be purchased directly from the photographer.

Corey Arnold is based in Portland Ore., where he is represented by Charles A. Hartman Fine Art as well as in Los Angeles by Richard Heller Gallery. His second book, Fishing with My Dad, will be released by Nazraeli early this summer.

Loneliness, 2002 This is a self-portrait taken during Arnold's first trip out in the Bering Sea in 2002, on a cod jigging boat called the Two Bears.Corey Arnold
Forty Foot, 2003Corey Arnold
Kitty and Horse Fisherman, 2006 Fellow deckhand Matt tries on his halloween costume while holding Arnold's cat. The cat spent two seasons on the boat, but now lives with Arnold in Portland.Corey Arnold
Bullhead Observation, 2005Corey Arnold
Gulf Crossing, 2007 The Bering Sea crab boat Rollo is parked in Seattle during the off season, and every year must be taken on an 8-10 day journey across the Gulf of Alaska.Corey Arnold
Bering Sea Birthday, 2006 Every year, fellow deckhand Matthew's birthday falls a few days into the Opilio crab season, on a grueling 20-hour workday. In 2006, Arnold surprised him with a piñata, as an icy storm raged around them.Corey Arnold
Icy House, 2006Corey Arnold
Freedom Bird, 2010 At night, and most often during storms, sea birds would crash land on the deck of the boat. Arnold and his shipmates would routinely throw them overboard. "We never really know if we are tossing them to their deaths or helping them get away," says Arnold.Corey Arnold
Salt Birds, 2010Corey Arnold

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