The Disappearing Art - Cormorant Fishermen Photography

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More than 400 years ago, the fishermen living in Yangshuo began to domesticate the cormorants to fish.

When the night fell, the fishermen took the bamboo rafts, lit the torches, took a few cormorants, and shouted at them in the Li River, then the cormorants squid out of the water with fishes in their throat, one after another.

On the river surface, the fishing fire shuttles like a flamingo, and the fisherman’s songs form a fascinating night hunting map, which lasted for a hundred years.

This was exactly the fishing scenes that happened in the Li River.

However, there are only four fishermen left to show people how they fishing before. Two of them are over 80 years old.

They are the last cormorant fishermen in the Li River, the natural art is disappearing.

Cormorant Fishermen Video by Alexander Alexandrov, Who Traveled with Mercier in October, 2018

View more Cinematography by Alexander Alexandrov

Why people love to photograph the cormorant fishermen?

  • Many Chinese landscape paintings or ink paintings have fishermen on it
  • It is easy to create great photographs by combining fishermen and landscapes.
  • Many great photography works have been born here, and won awards for shooting the fishermen.
  • Casting the net in the air, the golden fishing net is very beautiful against the sunrises and sunsets.
  • The cormorant fishermen with gaslamp at dusk look like a picture under the reflection of a distant mountain.
Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography NET CASTING AT SUNRISE

Is it good to shoot at sunrise or sunset time?

Each has its own merits, in different locations with different scenery.

Many of the masters' blockbusters were shot at sunset.

At sunset

There are more tourists and photographers at sunset location, but they are shooting different fishermen.

In the peak season, many large tourists ships return to Guilin from Yangshuo, and there will be many bamboo rafts roaming nearby, which may destroy the reflection of the mountains and fishermen.

Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Gas lamp portraits at dusk

At sunrise

Normally, no other photographers or rafts are nearby, less disturb and better for photography.

There are some hidden places, the water is very calm in the early morning, high chance to shoot the amazing reflections of fishermen and mountains.

Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Net casting at sunrise
Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Net Reflections over sunrise

Is it better to arrange one fisherman or two?

In most cases, it is better to arrange two cormorant fishermen.

However, there may be many other photographers at sunset location, and it is not easy to find a spacious location for two fishermen.

Two fishermen can be considered at sunrise, because there will be no other photographers or tourists nearby, could get better shots. See my photos as below.

Two fishermen cost more... so on your call!

Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Net Fishing at Dawn
Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Two Fishermen at Beautiful Glow
Guilin Cormorant Fishermen Photography Chating at the red Glow

FAQs about cormorant fishermen photography

#1 Is the fishermen photography session private or sharing with others?

It's private, so only you and your guide will be with the fishermen. Although there are some Chinese tourists may come, the guide will try to stop them and give you more space.

#2 Do I have to book the fishermen in advance?

We will hold the fishermen's dates once you confirm with us.

#3 Can I tip the fishermen?

It is not required, we will pay for their time a reasonal price. Of course, if you'd like to help the old fishermen, RMB 50-100 ($10-20) is fine.

#4 Is it a touristy session?

Frankly speaking, it is a little bit, even we are trying to keep it original, however, there are so many photographers coming for this. For photography, it is so dramatic, and all photographers brought home great shots.