“Wolves of the sea” isn’t the friendliest of nicknames, but the weather-beaten fishermen who ply the blue waters around the Greek island of Paros are unlikely to care.

“They’re a special kind of human,” said Austrian photographer Christian Stemper, who has spent five years documenting their lives. “For them, it’s just the boat and the sea and the fish.

"Nothing else.”

Stemper began taking photos of the Paros “wolves” in 2010 after several years of vacation visits to the Aegean island.

At first he focused on their caiques, traditional wooden boats that are barely big enough to hold a single fisherman and his catch, let alone their nets.

He was later able – with some difficulty – to persuade the boat owners to pose for portraits.