I occasionally forget how incredibly dependent I am on photojournalism to provide a context to articles I’m reading, especially when said articles deal with ideas formulated by experts who’ve spent decades researching subjects I can barely even pronounce. Producing this photographic re-contextualisation is kind of Alexi Hobbs’ job, when he’s commissioned by media giants like Monocle and TIME to provide imagery that explains their articles. And fortunately for them and us alike, he’s very very good at it.
Take, for example, this series for an article on Bloomberg Businessweek. “Photo editor Diana Suryakusuma sent me a brief requesting photographs of AquaBounty’s GMO salmon,” Alexi explains. The article, entitled “Why won’t the government let you eat super fish?” explores fish farming taking place at AquaBounty Technologies in Prince Edward Island’s Fortune Bay in Canada. “Aquabounty were very welcoming,” Alexi continues, “which is not surprising when you consider how hospitable Prince Edward Island residents are. Dawn Runighan took me through the hatchery, explaining their process and the different areas. I was given complete access and spent the next three hours photographing as much as I could.
“When it came time to photograph an individual fish, I was expecting something no bigger than a lake trout, instead they brought up the largest salmon I have ever seen. Over three feet long, it barely fit onto the seamless I had brought for the occasion!”
The photographs Alexi took are oddly glossy, transforming the laboratories at AquaBounty into a liminal space where it’s difficult to trust what you see. From drawers full of freshly-hatched salmon swimming in bright orange and green water, to an impossibly big, shiny fish, his photographs are a reminder that the journalist responsible for the piece is writing about a real life place, and not some strange imaginary workshop in a sci-fi novel. Photojournalism at its most effective.