These images were shot in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in January 2020, during visits to Anuradhapura, Mannar, Jaffna city, Point Pedro, Jaffna Peninsula, and the islands of Karaitivu and Nainativu. In pre-colonial times, much of the Northern Province was ruled by the Jaffna Kingdom. During the conflict years of 1983 to 2009, the Northern Province was under the control of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The entire province was then recaptured by the Sri Lankan military in 2009. Since then, reconstruction efforts have moved forward, and although poverty and unemployment levels remain stubbornly high, daily life has largely returned to normal.
Artisanal fishing is the main occupation in the North as the province is surrounded by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay to the west, the Palk Strait to the north west, and the Bay of Bengal to the north and east. The fisherman work long hours in the salt, sand and sun, and their families pitch in to help with the drying and the salting of the fish. But they also have good fun, both at work and in their spare time. They chant together when they bring in their nets; they repair their nets and boats together; and they catch short naps in the shade when time allows. On their rare days off, the fisherman and their families go to the temples and participate in village fairs and sporting events, such as the Point Pedro tug-of-war contest shown in the first series of images. Whether at work or at play, the fisherman of the Northern Province seem to have a rope, a net or a line close at hand.