Jonathan Pivovar

Jonathan Pivovar is a photographer currently based in Chicago, Illinois although he often spends time in Brooklyn, New York. Jonathan is a book maker, record collector, cook, fabricator, preparator, friend, brother, son, hiker, traveler, camper, indoor plant enthusiast, biker, sleep lover, and wearer-of-many-other-hats. His love of travel and exploring new subjects motivates his work. Today we share a new body of work exploring the annual Sockeye salmon run in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

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K/N/E/U/N is a body of work surrounding the annual sockeye salmon run in Bristol Bay, Alaska while moving from tender to tender during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Bristol Bay salmon run is the largest natural salmon run in the world with harvests exceeding thirty-million every year. The run typically starts in mid-June and lasts until mid-July, producing close to half of the worlds wild sockeye salmon annually and is a billion dollar industry.

Coinciding with the season, the industry booms in the mid-summer months, with approximately 10,000 fishers / tendermen and 6,000 processing workers arriving in early June, the local towns of Naknek and King Salmon grow twenty-fold, causing high economic return for the small communities. Upwards of fifty million dollars in income flow through Bristol Bay every year as a direct result of harvesting and processing.

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Many of the industry workers tend to come from working-class families, towns, and neighborhoods. The hard work pays off quick and great, with workers easily pulling incomes in the tens of thousands during the month-long season— In typical fashion, lives are lived just as fast. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, violent crimes, racism, and misogyny are rife within the industry and anonymity is commonplace as many workers have something to hide or hide from. Lives are often glamorized and/or embellished as a means of escape and many fishers/tendermen move with the fish, jumping from one season to the next; Their lives primarily lived on water.

The Bristol Bay salmon fishery has been maintaining operation for more than 100 years and continues to grow exponentially as the industry develops new marketing and product development. In peak-season, millions of salmon can be caught and harvested every day. Though, the runs in 2015 and 2016 have been some of the latest in Bristol Bays history, thus causing very low returns for commercial fishers two years in a row, bringing financial turmoil among many boat owners.

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To view more of Jonathan’s work please visit his website.



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