(Photo credit: Matt Eich, Double Tap from the series Trouble the Water: Alligator People of Louisiana)
Matt Eich’s ongoing series Trouble the Water: Alligator People of Louisiana is an intimate portrait of a controversial industry throttled by the U.S. recession. Documenting the family owned Daneco Alligator Farm in Houma, Lousiana, Eich counters the jarring violence of the alligator hunt with serene slices of family life. The two, however, are never fully inseparable.
We zip along the outskirts of Shell Island, deep in the swamp of Louisiana, gliding over the tranquil surface. As we near the shore, Rebel, who sits on the bow, hat backwards, eyes watchful, gives a thumbs-down to Julius Gaudet, letting him know that the line they set the day before is in the water. Julius pulls the boat to a stop near the shore as Rebel searches for the line with his gaff. He finds it, pulling hand-over-fist, as if reeling in a large fish. With a splash the reptilian head emerges suddenly from the water and Julius leans over the edge, putting one 9mm round through it’s brain. The two hunters pull their prey into the boat, tag it and toss it onto the deck, which will soon be stacked high with the rest of the day’s haul. Rebel turns to me, wiping blood onto his pants, and with a smile says, “And that’s how we do the gator dance.”
View the entire series and more of Matt’s work at http://matteichphoto.com . Among many accolades, Eich was recently a finalist for Burn Magazine’s 2010 Emerging Photographer Fund Grant. His photo essay, Carry Me Ohio can be seen at http://www.burnmagazine.org.