Photographer Stefan Dotter Tenderly Documents The Ama, The Women Of The Sea In Japan

Based between Berlin and Tokyo, Dotter has won multiple photography awards, is a consultant for the United Nations, and is a teacher of photography for the UNHCR, also known as the The UN Refugee Agency. Despite creating work that crosses genres from documentary and portraiture to cinematic films and fashion editorials, Dotter’s cohesive body of work clearly belongs to him: with an emotive visual tone and a dramatic use of light, color, and shadow. The award-winning series in question focuses on the details within the everyday rituals of the Ama: the free divers, mostly women, who are upholding and safeguarding the ancient art of sea foraging. In a piece for the British Journal of Photography, Marigold Warner writes of the tradition: “The Ama wear white cloths, believed to ward off sharks. And, known to forage for pearls and shellfish, they are trained to dive up to 20 meters to the seabed, collecting their catch in wooden buckets that float on the surface.” These women head underwater without scuba gear or air tanks, and often dive for foods like abalone and wakame seaweed in addition to pearls.

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