China's Cormorant Fishermen - In Pictures / by WJRVisuals

In early September 2018, I traveled to Guilin, China to photograph the karst limestone landscape of southern China’s Guangxi region and the cormorant fishermen who reside there.

I had a full two-day itinerary shooting both landscapes and these gentlemen. The light was a bit boring for the landscape photography aspect of the trip but for the portrait sessions the light worked out rather well.

I photographed the fishermen three times (once for sunrise on the first day and the second day once at their house in the afternoon and then later on the Li River for sunset). I also had a sunset and sunrise for landscape photography.

A little about these fishermen: These fishermen are best known for fishing without rods, reels, and hooks. The cormorant fishermen traditional fishing methods are said to date back to 636 AD. However, it's not their lack of equipment that makes their technique so special, its the bird that they are named after, the cormorant. The cormorant dives underwater hunting fish and returning them to their owner. The cormorant fishermen tie a string around the cormorant bird's neck preventing it from swallowing the fish. Using bamboo rafts these men move up and down China's Li (or Lijiang) River using wooden oars and rocks for anchors.

My go-to camera for the trip was the Nikon D850, but I also shot with the Nikon D750. I primarily used the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 G2 for the portraits. I used the Tamron 15-30mm F2.8 for some of the wider shots evening portrait shots along the river on the second night.

Below are a few other photos you won't find in my portfolio (only because I wanted to choose the best 9).

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 45mm, f2.8, ISO 200, 1/400 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 45mm, f2.8, ISO 200, 1/400 sec

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 26mm, f2.8, ISO 64, 1/125 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 26mm, f2.8, ISO 64, 1/125 sec

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 24mm, f2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 24mm, f2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 70mm, f2.8, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 70mm, f2.8, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 50mm, f2.8, ISO 400, 1/100 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 50mm, f2.8, ISO 400, 1/100 sec

 Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 55mm, f2.8, ISO 100, 1/100 sec

Nikon D850 - Tamron 24-70mm G2 @ 55mm, f2.8, ISO 100, 1/100 sec

 Nikon D750 - Tamron 15-30mm @ 15mm, f2.8, ISO 250, 1/25 sec

Nikon D750 - Tamron 15-30mm @ 15mm, f2.8, ISO 250, 1/25 sec


I organized my trip with Guilin Photography Tours www.guilinphotographytour.com who recommended the time of year I should visit based on the weather and my availability. They then put together a customized itinerary that included exactly what I wanted and nothing I didn’t. Their guide Gao was fantastic and provided excellent advice throughout the trip.

I had very little extra time to sightsee in and around Yangshuo and Guilin, but I was surprised how much activity i found in Yangshuo. Yangshuo (at least the area I was in) was very lively when many people out enjoying the town with tons of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Guilin also seemed like a nice place too. Much different that Beijing as you’d expect.

A few other iPhone shots that were taken along the way below.