Select Page

Picture Pointers – Taking good photos after the catch

Claiming no specific photographic expertise, over the years I have sold hundreds of articles, promoted sponsors, events and products with my pictures. The intent of this document is for fellow anglers to help them promote outdoor activity, encourage, excite and entertain others. Some of my own success is due to pictures taken by me or my partners. Decades back when I started the film had to be developed before you actually saw what you captured on the line and in the lens. It was experience, a little luck and some of the set up before shooting that helped improve my photos. Great photography is not easy but everyone can take good pictures. Here are a few of my favorite pointers for your pictures.

 Camera choices- with the advent of digital photography there comes huge advantages. Cost is minimal. You have the ability to instant review and transfer of pictures as well as editing is simple on your computer or phone. Every phone has a camera mode that is suitable. Microsoft office and the paint program on you electronic devices are great tools. Learn and use each editing aspect.

 Tell the story – Pictures sell everything, magazines, product, editors, sponsors and outdoor associated businesses. A great picture tells a stand-alone story. Who, what, where and when comes through the lens for a well-planned picture. As you peer through the view finder, think about what you want to see. Look for details; the background, rods, baits, hats, logos, boat and angler all need to be part of the story.

 Appeal to audience – Who is your end line user? Does the picture speak to them? Is your goal a family, tournament competitor, specific to a species, maybe a location? Does the picture appeal to a broad audience?

 Lighting – One of the most critical aspects of a good picture id s the lighting. Soft light of dawn and sunset makes for a memorable shot. Bright sun requires a tip back of the hat and maybe a repositioning of the fish, boat or angler. Use of a flash, called a “fill flash” does remove unwanted shade or shadows.

 Identify Sponsors- Notice in pictures for those trying to promote their sponsors the subtle use of logos incorporated into the frame. A good eye when composing a shot spots and includes the logos on boats, paddles, hats and stickers. Rarely do editors remove or blur these inclusions where sometimes mention in articles is deleted before publishing. Not sneaky, just clever.

 Super Subjects – BIG fish make for a great picture. Holding the fish correctly not to make it look like a freak of nature is tricky. Don’t do the “long arm” where the fish is thrust into the lens and looks like it’s bigger than the boat! Hold the fish as to not cover sponsor patches, with knuckles back and out slightly away from the body. The “grip and grin” shot has been done to death.

 Use your imagination to help make the picture desirable. *

 *Do Something Different – Hold fish up higher, get a profile of the fish and happy angler, shoot down into the boat from an elevated position, get wet and get wet and shoot from a low angle up into the sky. Get creative; make your pictures interesting, different and exciting, add the “wow factor”.

 Background – Check when composing your shot that there are no unwanted background items. No signs, roadways, vehicles (unless you have a truck sponsor) trees growing out of the head of the angler. No cigarettes, alcohol containers or less than desirable elements in the shot. Most of the time sunglasses should be removed and PFDs should always be on.

 Catching the action – Catching action catches the attention of others and freezes in time the highlight moments of the day. There is a secret I noticed that tells me exactly when a bass is going to jump. I signal to my partner or in some cases my photographer when it’s going to happen. This makes for an exciting highly enjoyable, sought after picture. Another couple of different looks are the cast, the hook set and landing the fish. Each is appealing to the eye when done correctly. Remember pictures promote and sell! Take the time to get them right.


 Close ups – Detail is captured in close ups. You don’t have to be able to count nose hairs to get a good close up. Technical details come to life in good close up shots. Stage the shot using light and a well-placed lure and a partially pulled up fish. In television we have a saying, “you can’t say it unless they see it.” This is where a good close up helps to explain the details of the catch or rig.

 Make them want to go – My goal in any outdoor form of communication is to make people want to go and participate. A good picture coupled with a well written story, a action packed film or a enthusiastic seminar gets people interested in a kayaking, fishing or just exploring the great outdoor world we’ve already discovered.

I can’t guarantees you will catch big fish but I can promise you good pictures memorialize great memories. That’s a photo finish.