8 tips for quality fishing photos


So you fish often, and you’d like to take better photos that capture your love of angling? No problem. Read the list of tips below, follow the suggestions, and your photos will noticeably improve. Note that most of the info below applies to both conventional and digital cameras, though I’m assuming that you use a digital version.

1. Avoid “posing and grinning” shots

OK, so your buddy caught a big fish and wants the moment frozen in time. Fine. Frame it up and snap a glamor shot. But here’s a news flash: most folks find those types of pics boring and clichéd. Use your imagination and experiment with angles, flash, and lighting. Take a pic of the fish head on or being released, or snap an action shot of your buddy casting or of a fish jumping. Point is, an out-of-the ordinary approach can make for extraordinary photos, so take chances. Need ideas? Flip through a high-quality fishing magazine.

2. Look and anticipate
Great pics are usually captured because a photographer is on the lookout for something out of the ordinary. Quite often, the window for opportunity is very small. Learn to anticipate special moments — like the surge that precedes a fish exploding on the surface, or the moment before a pelican folds his wings to dive — and take the shot. Practice awareness.

3. Consider your background
Many folks frame up a shot and blaze away, never considering what’s behind the subject of their photos. When they look the pics over later, they’re surprised to find uncle Bubba scratching his ass in the background. Great shots usually contain a backdrop that complements the subject — either acting as a complement or, at the very least, as a neutral canvas that accentuates the subject. In some cases, the background of your photos can actually serve as the focal point. Again, experiment.

4. Move in close
Delight in the details. The overlapping scales of a tarpon. The baleful eye of a barracuda. The battle scars on a favorite plug. Shots in which the subject are far away from the camera can be great, but — when framed well and in focus — photos that captures close-up detail command attention.

5. Don’t center your subject very time
This is an old photography stand-by, but it bears mention. Try positioning your subject on the edges of your pics, using the extra space to provide more info about the setting. Professional photographers call this the rule of thirds. If you tend to center and click, this little tip will likely do more to improve your photos than anything else you can try.

6. Go high res
When using a digital camera, use the highest resolution setting available. High res versions capture a greater degree of detail, which generally makes for better-looking pics. Beyond that, they also have enough resolution to print well. Few things are more discouraging than snapping an incredible photo that can never be printed due to low resolution.

7. Use light to your advantage
Use the long shadows and warm tones of “God’s light” — the warm tones that show up an hour or so before sundown, and an hour or so after sunlight. When possible, opt for this sort of “gold” light and avoid overhead sunlight. If the angler is wearing a hat, have them remove it or push it back to eliminate the shadows caused by a hat brim. Study the effects of light.

8. Take lots of pictures
Within quantity you will capture quality. This is the keystone of professional photography. The notion that some folks are so eminently talented that that can consistently frame great shots is crap. Yes, talent is a definite factor, but even average Joes can come up with great shots by changing their approach and blazing away.

Bonus tip: Study the manual, if only briefly
If you’re like me, you bought your camera to snap memorable pics, not to learn every option it features like some stat-gushing nerd. However, most modern cameras have a handful of easy-to-learn features that can dramatically improve your shots. Take 20 minutes or so to flip through the manual, then experiment with the “canned” settings by taking test shots around your house or yard. Trust me — it will make a world of difference down the line.

For more great techniques and tips, check out this guy’s website.

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2 Responses to “8 tips for quality fishing photos”

  1. SRQGator says:

    Great tips – especially the last one about quantity resulting in quality.

  2. John says:

    Thanks, SRQGator. Yep, taking lots of pics has helped many photographers with fair-to-middlin’ skills look like cutting edge pros. Digital cameras have made it possible to snap away, cull the crap and keep the cream of the crop. Pity our predecessors. They had to manually develop film and go through lots of shots to find a winner. Of course, could be argued that the “old school” approach led to more careful shot selection, and better shots, on average. But I’ll take the modern equipment.