Next to the thrilling act of reeling in a trophy fish, probably the most enjoyable
feeling for anglers comes from reliving the experience and sharing it with others
through pictures. With today’s advanced smart phone cameras and various social
media avenues to share images online, friends and family around the world can
instantly enjoy your fishing pictures and applaud your accomplishments.
As a fishing writer for numerous magazines (both print and digital), I’m keenly
aware that great photographs are as important — if not more important — then
well-chosen words. If you look through the pages of the best fishing publications,
you’ll notice interesting photos showing action and emotion — not dead, stiff fish
and even stiffer subjects holding them. As good as modern phone cameras are,
professional outdoor photographers will always rely on high-end digital SLR
cameras that provide creative flexibility and shoot ultra-high resolution images.
However, even if you’re shooting with your phone, there are simple steps you can
take to ensure that your fishing photos capture your passion for fishing and the
excitement of the moment.
Here are a few tips on how to take great fishing photos:
• Go live. Even if you’re going to keep a fish for dinner, take photos right away
while the fish is alive and has all of its colors. Wet down the fish and wash off
any blood or loose scales. A fish will usually have a “cleaner” side, free of
blood, gaff wounds, or other distracting damage. Hold the fish so this side
• Look the fish in the eye. Do some shots looking at the camera, but take
some with the subject looking at the fish he’s holding. This captures the
scene of a proud angler admiring his catch, instead of looking “posed.”
• Be bright. Have your subjects wear bold colors like red, yellow, pink, that stand out against the blue or grey sky. This requires some forethought and
planning with the crew. I often bring along a bright colored “photo” jacket that I can put on photo subjects.
• Change perspective. Getting lower than your subject and shooting upwards
can be dramatic and makes the fish stand out. Try having the angler hold the
fish’s head downwards towards the camera, or try out other interesting angles.
• Show emotion. Have your subject smile, laugh, give a thumbs up or a high-
five while displaying his catch. The best photos are those that capture the
excitement of the moment.
• Mind the background. Don’t let rods, gaffs, VHF antennas or other clutter in
the background ruin your shots. This is one of the most common mistakes,
and it can be hard to avoid on a crowded boat. Generally, going up to the
bow and shooting towards open water should provide a clean background.
• Capture the action. Some of the best shots show the battle…not just the victory. Most people wait until the fish is dead on the deck before breaking out the camera — but you can get some truly exciting photos that share the excitement of the fight if you break it out and become an action photographer.
Keep these things in mind, and your fishing photos might find their way into your
favorite fishing magazine or website. At the very least, your friends and family will
look forward to your fishing-related emails, Facebook posts and text messages.