Federico Vespignani – Blue Echos

Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico.<br /> Rey Cosio Rosas, 28 years old shark hunter, while listening to the sound of the whales to figure out where to cast the net. whales are the biggest danger for fishermen because a single whale can hit the net and drag the boat into the abyss.

Federico Vespignani

Blue Echos

“You have to understand that it can happen and you’ll never know when. I’ve understand this when my brother never came back and I made peace with fear” says Reyes Cosio Rosas a shark hunter from El Sargento, a small fishing village in Baja California.

Every night for living he faces the dark waters of the sea of Cortez. Jacques Cousteau has defined this place “The world’s aquarium”: its waters host more than 900 species of fish and over 30 cetacean’s types but years of overfishing have deeply affected its delicate ecosystem. From more than a decade the community of shark fishermen or “Tiburoneros” from El Sargento is forced to migrate to the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, due to the state of sea of Cortez. They pass most of their life away from their families in abandoned islands which seem outposts at the edge of the world. Everyday they navigate up to 40 miles from the coast for catching bigger sharks into an infinite routine.

The project follows an emotional journey through the relationship between these men and the nature which surrounds them, where they are unexpected guests and where the ones who keep you alive can also kill you.




Born in Venice in 1988, Federico Vespignani after the graduation in photography at IED in Rome started working as freelance photographer. His recent works include reportage photography on PTSD in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Homophobia in Italy,fishermen on the Galician coast, the LGBT community in Jamaica and shark fishing in Mexico. Federico has been published in national and international titles including The New York Times, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Manner, Il Reportage and Private Magazine among the others. He is contributor photographer for ParalleloZero photo agency.

He currently lives and works in Milan.


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Federico Vespignani

10 Responses to “Federico Vespignani – Blue Echos”

  • Love this, the mood and feeling.

  • Love the mood throughout the essay. Makes me feel like I’m somehow floating on the cusp of something calm and also terrifying.

  • The pictures are quite nice, but I cannot fathom the sympathetic angle given to a people driving a species to the brink of extinction in order for someone to be able have some soup.(nor it has to be said, for a photo essay)
    Belatedly selling the leftover meat to poor people does NOT atone for such enviromental rape.

    PAUL:Makes me feel like I’m somehow floating on the cusp of something calm and also terrifying….yes you are: The silent and relentless eradication of a species.

  • So. 8 or so Hours later.

    The pictures on Federicos website are much more brutal and honest than the edit shown here.
    The inclusion of those images(on The Website) makes the story read in a much more balanced and objective way. Showing, as it does, these fisherman as human beings doing brutal work (clubbing a caught shark to death with a baseball bat etc) rather than blurry cosy art photography dream figures as in the Burn edit.
    On the website there is no statement. It is not needed as The imagery tells a story.
    We see these people, as people, doing what they do and the methods they use to do it.
    documentary rather than art.
    I like both set of images, but I like directness of the website edit better I think.
    It would be hard to see those images and then talk about floating round on cusps (which i can fully understand Paul doing with the slow shutter moodfest of the essay here)

  • I have to say I much prefer this blurry edit, a much more interesting flavour. With so much average content that is in focus and well exposed I’m really drawn to a photo with some sense of feeling.

  • Sounds like you have opted for the head in the sand mentality hharry with that I am looking it from a photographic angle only thinking

  • I find the BURN cut utter vagueness and moodiness, without showing substance for which one has to go to the photographers statement above; but overall, at least for me, the essay does not become engaging. On the photographer’s website the essay is more direct, but the telling of the story is still blunted by what looks like a desire to create art. So, the artificiality remains. Seems to me there is a need to get more directly into the story. Compare this essay, in either of its versions to Tomasewski’s BURN essay on Ghanaian fishermen.

  • Thanks Akaky, hharry and Paul for the kind words, really appreciated.
    John, i’m not really agree with you, since usually reality is a bit more complicated. The main factors related to the overfishing in those waters are big vessels that fish tunas and sardines, the primary food for sharks, moreover Mexican government has imposed a ban on sharkfishing for 3 months every year, to allow sharks to reproduce.
    I think that here everyone know what Mexico is living in these years, and i believe that the question one should ask yourself is “What i’m willing to do for allowing my family to live a decent life”.
    On the other hand Mitch’s Statement seems an echo of Sontag thought “On the pain of others”,i respect the people i’ve met and i live with in Mexico and for me it’s just not fair see them as sharks butchers, they are something more, and with this essay i’ve try to pay an homage to their inner feelings and fears. Finally i think that photography have nothing to do with objectivity.

    Thanks for all the comments and discussions.

  • Very beautiful essay, thanks. I haven’t commented here for years, but this essay I found really touching. Fishermen as a photo or painting topic has been done too many times, but this succeeds to feel fresh again.
    The difficult balance between suggesting and showing found the right spot here here for me. I feel it echoes with the photography of “life of Pi” movie. Or to fishermen seen in South India.
    We probably all know that sharks fishing is killing the specie, and for those for forgot, about 3 pictures/captions are here to remind us of it. I believe this is a better way, more sensitive, to get the message through.

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