Photo Essay

Bringing Wrecks to Life

Finished with Engine

To many, a shipwreck is just a forgotten piece of rusted metal, a navigation hazard. To me, these ships are living history for they have participated in historic events like the Battles of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and the Occupation of Japan by Allied Forces. Each ship tells a different story – and the men of the ship are the storytellers. I want people to know the heritage and history of these ships and their people.

It is my fascination with these shipwrecks that have led me on a quest to unravel their history, and to search for the men who once served aboard them. Over the past several years, I have managed to make contact with groups of these men. Meeting with them has been a dream fulfilled -- and a revelation of those histories.

During the course of our discussions, I have come to realize that there are so many undocumented incidents that took place. Seeing a submarine contact on the radar screen, being swept overboard in a typhoon – insignificant events on the global scale, these are very personal to the men who experienced them, and dramatic in their knowing.

As I become more acquainted with these ships, and the men who lived and served on them, these seemingly abstract pieces of twisted metal begin to take on more recognizable forms. They offer a glimpse into an earlier era where real people walked upon the decks; bunks slept in by men who were sons, brothers, and husbands to families back home.

I am among the fortunate few that have discovered these ships underwater and to then later learn of a deeper, human history. I have chosen to photograph them in black-and-white, to faithfully capture the light and ambiance at these great depths, and for the emotional and imageic effect that this medium offers.

With these images, I want to capture the soul of these ships and the humanity attached to them... And bring these wrecks to life.

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12 responses

  • Sally Sloley

    Sally Sloley said (12 Jan 2009):

    these photos are fantastic. love that you used b&w for underwater photos.

  • Becca Bornstein

    Becca Bornstein (Deleted) gave props (12 Jan 2009):

    Wow, amazing story and photos. You have such a passion for your work, its truly captivating.

  • Nasera S.

    Nasera S. gave props (13 Jan 2009):

    Amazing work and an interesting Essay ! Very well done, VOTED !! :)

  • Sean Burke

    Sean Burke gave props (13 Jan 2009):

    Stunning photographs and a great story. I hope this makes it into the next issue... whenever that comes out :)

  • Pongsatorn Sukhum

    Pongsatorn Sukhum said (13 Jan 2009):

    Thank you :)

  • Iraklis Lianos

    Iraklis Lianos gave props (16 Jan 2009):

    Fantastic(!!!!) photos! And in BW! Last I dove was two years ago... (trying to figure out whether I like the inclusion of the two gentlemen or if it throws me off the series)

  • Pongsatorn Sukhum

    Pongsatorn Sukhum said (30 Jan 2009):

    Thank for your feedback. The original series had twenty photographs including several photos of veterans of these ships. I included this one here so viewers could relate the story to the faces.

  • Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman gave props (2 Mar 2009):

    Great story! Voted!

  • Pongsatorn Sukhum

    Pongsatorn Sukhum said (15 Mar 2009):

    Thank you.

  • Kokopedal

    Kokopedal (Deleted) gave props (21 Apr 2009):

    wonderful story

  • Brian Betteridge

    Brian Betteridge gave props (23 Oct 2009):

    nice series...kind of jealous, actually.

  • Karen Zimmerman

    Karen Zimmerman gave props (24 Nov 2009):

    Incredible work! The fact that you also pair people who survived these ships is really cool! Consider writing a book???

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