Giacomo Bruno Captures Sri Lanka’s Fascinating Stilt Fishing Tradition

All images by Giacomo Bruno. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Are you a travel photographer with a strong interest for documentary projects? You might want to take a cue from Milan-based Giacomo Bruno, and add Sri Lanka to your bucket list of places to visit and document. While you’re at it, make sure to include Koggala on your itinerary, so you don’t miss the chance to photograph the city’s fascinating fishing tradition.

The coastal town of Koggala is home to the stilts fishermen of Sri Lanka, who have become popular for their interesting fishing tradition. As the term suggests, the fishermen erect bamboo poles just a few meters from the shore, where they perch with their bamboo fishing lines to catch small fish beyond the surf break.

Giacomo visited the town in 2016, most likely on the same trip where he documented tea picking in the country. As with the Ceylon Tea series, he beautifully captured the daily life of the Stilt Fishermen of Sri Lanka. By juxtaposing these shots with some photos of Negombo fishermen on their boats, he placed emphasis on the difference between the two kinds of fishermen make their living.

Giacomo chose a great time to photograph the stilts fishermen of Sri Lanka. By documenting them against the sunset, he was also able to paint a more dramatic picture of their daily life and the environment they work with. He also mentioned that this tradition had almost disappeared, but tourism has allowed them to keep fishing and earn a little extra with the money they get from tourists and photographers.

No one knows how long Sri Lanka’s tourism industry will be able to sustain this fishing tradition of Koggala. However, with documentary photographers like Giacomo making their way to the coastal town to capture and tell their story, they encourage the stilts fishermen to keep the culture going for generations to come.

Check out Giacomo Bruno’s Behance portfolio and website to see more of his documentary work.