In black and white: Venezuelan fisherman among oil ruins

Fisherman Romuel Sambrea, known as a "tripero" for the inner tube he uses to float on, poses for a portrait after a day's work on the oil-contaminated

Fisherman Romuel Sambrea, known as a "tripero" for the inner tube he uses to float on, poses for a portrait after a day's work on the oil-contaminated

Fishermen get ready to start harvesting crabs in the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Fishermen get ready to start harvesting crabs in the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Fisherman Alirio Jose Lugano holds his catch after a day's work on the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/

Fisherman Alirio Jose Lugano holds his catch after a day's work on the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/

Men stand on top of a non-operational oil pump from the state-owned oil company PDVSA in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Men stand on top of a non-operational oil pump from the state-owned oil company PDVSA in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Former oil worker Jose Gregorio Romero poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after harvesting c

Former oil worker Jose Gregorio Romero poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after harvesting c

Oil and debris cover the shore of Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Oil and debris cover the shore of Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Fisherman Erick Alejandro poses for a portrait at the end of a work day on the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 4, 2019. (A

Fisherman Erick Alejandro poses for a portrait at the end of a work day on the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 4, 2019. (A

Fishermen pose for a photo before crab fishing in the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Fishermen pose for a photo before crab fishing in the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Fisherman Antonio Tello and his daughter Genesis Tello pose for a portrait as they clean the oil-covered crabs he caught in Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas

Fisherman Antonio Tello and his daughter Genesis Tello pose for a portrait as they clean the oil-covered crabs he caught in Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas

The uniform of a PDVSA oil worker hangs to dry outside the home of a fisherman, who uses it while fishing, in Cabimas, near the oil-contaminated Lake

The uniform of a PDVSA oil worker hangs to dry outside the home of a fisherman, who uses it while fishing, in Cabimas, near the oil-contaminated Lake

Fisherman Alejandro Elizalzabal smokes a cigarette as he sits for a portrait after a day's work on oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezue

Fisherman Alejandro Elizalzabal smokes a cigarette as he sits for a portrait after a day's work on oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezue

The Elizalzabal and Silva families, who fish for a living, pose for a group portrait outside one of their family's homes, on the shore of oil-contamin

The Elizalzabal and Silva families, who fish for a living, pose for a group portrait outside one of their family's homes, on the shore of oil-contamin

Former oil worker Milton Pena poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a day of fishing for

Former oil worker Milton Pena poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a day of fishing for

An abandoned oil platform, once run by the state-run company PDVSA, emerges from the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8,

An abandoned oil platform, once run by the state-run company PDVSA, emerges from the oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo near Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8,

Former oil worker David Ortiz poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a day's work on oil-c

Former oil worker David Ortiz poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a day's work on oil-c

Giovani Blanco, the owner of several fishing boats, right, and his assistants stop to pose for a portrait as they repair boat motors that were damaged

Giovani Blanco, the owner of several fishing boats, right, and his assistants stop to pose for a portrait as they repair boat motors that were damaged

Fishermen Kelvin Alcala poses for a portrait at the end of his workday harvesting crabs in oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas, Venezuela, Jul

Fishermen Kelvin Alcala poses for a portrait at the end of his workday harvesting crabs in oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas, Venezuela, Jul

Oil machinery that belongs to the state-run oil company PDVSA sits idle off oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8, 2019. (AP P

Oil machinery that belongs to the state-run oil company PDVSA sits idle off oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 8, 2019. (AP P

Fisherman Emanuel Salcedo poses for a portrait with his daughter Emilialsen after a day of harvesting crabs from oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Ca

Fisherman Emanuel Salcedo poses for a portrait with his daughter Emilialsen after a day of harvesting crabs from oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Ca

A damaged chair sits outside a fisherman's home that reads in Spanish "Fish for sale" in Cabimas, Venezuela, near oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, Jul

A damaged chair sits outside a fisherman's home that reads in Spanish "Fish for sale" in Cabimas, Venezuela, near oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, Jul

Fisherman Juzman Garcia poses for a portrait after his workday on oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodri

Fisherman Juzman Garcia poses for a portrait after his workday on oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodri

Fabiola Elizalzabal cleans fish caught by her fisherman father in oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodr

Fabiola Elizalzabal cleans fish caught by her fisherman father in oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo, in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodr

Former oil worker William Vilchez poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a morning of fish

Former oil worker William Vilchez poses for a portrait in one of his old PDVSA uniforms, which he uses to work as a fisherman, after a morning of fish

CABIMAS, Venezuela (AP) — The landscape of Venezuela's once robust oil industry lies all around fishermen and their families who live in villages clustered on the edge of Lake Maracaibo. Their struggles on a briny bay fouled by petroleum seeps and derelict oil rigs are etched onto their faces and stained into their clothes.

Seeing these people and this place on an earlier reporting trip, veteran Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd knew he had to go back. This time, he set down his lightning-fast digital Canon and spread the tripod of his 19th century-style box camera to make black and white portraits of the fishermen and the industrial decay they call home.

The Argentine-born photographer had turned the lens of his box camera before on subjects in Guatemala, Afghanistan, Mexico and the streets of his home-base of Lima, Peru, documenting a spectrum of life's emotions, from joy to tragedy. He felt the slower pace and mood of box photography would help capture the poignancy and pain of Cabimas where fisherman live and work among idle, gray machinery.

"In the end, it was a story about the oil industry and people," Abd said. "It was an industry built 50 years ago, but nowadays is broken, and somehow the black and white photos suggest that."

At sunrise, the men of Cabimas wade into the lake to harvest shrimp, fish and crabs. Women wait in the shade of shacks where they hand wash shellfish coated in oil. The workday is done when the fishermen unbolt their skiff motors and stow them on the banks for safekeeping.

Having heard their stories and observed their lives once before, Abd knew he would return, this time lugging along his box camera. "I thought it was a good idea to complete what I already had and to see the same story in a different way, in a more poetic way," he said.