Swimming Against the Current

A salmon stream is both the beginning and end of a story. It is the cover-wrap of one of the most epic narratives on the planet. A storyteller can only stand humbled on its banks.

And it is a fitting place to film the final set piece for a film we’re making on the history and future of photo journalism, and its most iconic home, the National Geographic Magazine.

I visited on a pair of days when a daughter-father team were working in the icy current to capture the majesty of the salmon’s return in a single frame.

His career as a storyteller is nearing its end, though not quite, fighting up the shallows for a last run. And hers is just heading out to sea clouded with uncertainty.

Their stories mirror that of the salmon. With drying up funding, a fragmented media landscape and a polluted digital environment, it’s harder than ever to eke out an existence on this planet as a deep storyteller.

But one trait that some humans share with the salmon is a relentless, headlong determination to see the whole thing through to its conclusion, taking that one-in-a-million chance that the progeny will return to the sea so that that the run might somehow continue.

The only certainty is that…as you spend precious hours waiting for a buck or hen to swim up to the camera lens, sitting in the shallows and feeling the long, cold bodies pulsing around you, biting at their reflections on the camera’s dome port…you’re sure find a rare sort of magic.

Learn more about salmon and storytelling:

Published by David

Writer (Vintage), filmmaker (Three Days of Glory and Saving Atlantis), bookreader.

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