I spent five days on assignment in the Gulf of Mexico out of Dulac, Louisiana photographing fishermen targeting Yellowfin Tuna. Two days prior to the shoot, I had time to explore the areas in the 'bayou' south of Houma. I drove around Dulac and Cocodrie looking for scenes to photograph. Both of these towns are just barely above sea level and have many indicators of a prosperous shrimping industry. During the 1970's and 1980's, the Shrimp industry in southern Louisiana was at its peak - but now signs of decline are evident with the derelict workboats and abandoned packing houses. Contributing factors to the decline in the industry include, but are not limited to: lower priced shrimp imported from farms in Southeast Asia flooding the domestic markets, fisheries regulations and increased cost of operating. Despite pressures that have hurt the industry, harvesting seafood still remains a big economic driver in this area. Oysters, Red Snapper and Yellowfin Tuna represent the largest landings in Dulac aside from Brown and White Shrimp.
After getting off the boat, I drove northwest towards New Orleans - stopping to photograph two plantations near Vacherie, Louisiana. I stopped at the well known Oak Alley Plantation to photograph the 1800’s built home through the tunnel of live oaks. The former sugar plantation lies on the shores of the Mississippi River about an hour from New Orleans. I also stopped to photograph the Evergreen Plantation. After shooting for a few hours, I made plans to meet up with Louisiana wildlife photographer, Charles Bush near Lafayette. Charles pointed me in the right direction to photograph nesting Roseate Spoonbills near an area known as Jefferson Island. The rice fields in this region provide ideal feeding habitat for wading birds and the birds nest in nearby bodies of water in large groups known as rookeries. The Roseate Spoonbills nesting in the Jefferson Island area had built nests on small islands that were isolated in the middle of ponds. Predators like raccoons or foxes have difficulty accessing the islands to feed on the eggs and juvenile birds - especially with large Alligators lurking nearby. At the rookery, we had ideal light - a high cloud cover that diffused the direct sunlight. We spent three hours shooting the birds building their nests and putting on their mating displays.
I stayed in Breaux Bridge, a small town just east of Lafayette. Breaux Bridge is about 10 miles from Lake Martin which is home to another large wading bird Rookery. Lake Martin is also known for its beautiful Cypress trees that are covered in Spanish Moss. I shot at the lake during the best light of the day, at sunrise and sunset, and spent the rest of the day packing my gear to prepare for the second leg of my assignment. I left Louisiana the next morning for Pompano Beach, Florida to photograph a commercial fishing trip in the Straits of Florida for Swordfish.
Snowy Egret (left) and Cattle Egret (right).