The gifted D.C.-based photographer Frank Hallam Day has struck again with a series that is at once technically challenging, visually complex, and topically rich.
In a 15-image exhibit at the Leica Store, Day uses his photojournalistic chops to document the small-scale fishing industry along Ghana’s Atlantic coast. He finds a universe that’s sweaty, romantic, messy, and beset by modernity.
In Day’s telling, fishermen pile into iffy-looking boats with peeling paint, laden with equipment and diaphanous nets. Back on shore, women hover over pots of boiling water and piles of gutted fish carcasses.
There’s visual allure—-torsos well cut by the heavy labor, moments of solace staring off into the silvery ocean—-but also hardship, made clear in an image of more than a dozen workers dragging backward in unison to bring a boat onto the beach.
The photographer is equally skilled making images at night as he is during the day, no surprise given his previous series on recreational vehicles at night. “Jehova Shamal, Kokobrite” (top) for instance, is lit by electric lights that, in the dusky humidity, cast a surprisingly tactile glow.
Two of Day’s images stand out. One captures a boy reclining stiffly on the prow of a boat, wearing a red T-shirt that reads, “Boys Rule Fact.” His forbidding expression embodies the motto. The other image is softer, more nuanced. In it, two girls dance, hovering in mid-air on the beach, while another gazes at them and a fourth figure leans sadly into a tumbledown boat—-a sharp, concise encapsulation of how joy can coexist, cheek by jowl, with melancholy.
Through January 2015 at the Leica Store, 977 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 787-5900. Mon-Wed 11-6, Thu-Fri 11-7, Sat-Sun 11-6