Nina Poppe is a German photographer and curator who published Ama, one of the best photo books of 2011. The images tell the story of contemporary Japanese female pearl divers, aka ama. These women make their living by diving for abalone, a slimy sea snail that produces pearls. The Japanese tradition suggests that this practice may be two millennia old. Even today, an ama dives according to the old ways: without equipment, relying only on lung power. The Japanese believe that the majority of ama are women because of how their bodies differ from men: The fat on a female body is distributed differently than that on men, which ensures that they can stay warmer in colder water. Ama is an extinguishing profession; most of these women are around 60, some are over 80. Nina decided to photograph these women before it was too late, before no ama was diving into the blue anymore and the only one we would have remembered was Kissy Suzukiin James Bond’s You Only Live Twice. So I decided to call Nina and talk about this.