Image Credit: Hunter Ledbetter – Brooke Thomas in-water release of her first Striped Marlin, caught aboard Blue Sky Cabo.
The average sportsman at Fin & Field will take a day or two to go fishing or hunting about once a month. That leaves 29 days a month when they aren’t in the field or on the water. So about 94% of the time these passionate anglers and hunters are reading magazines, watching TV, and browsing the internet to get their outdoor fix. In order to make the most of the trips you are already taking, and the fish and game that you are already harvesting, you need to take some visually stunning photos. Don’t just pull out the camera when someone catches a trophy. Get a well lit, well staged, and well posed photos of brightly colored dorado, or trout. Make sure you are taking similar photos of your hunters average deer, elk, hogs, waterfowl, etc. These photos make great content for regular posts on Facebook, Instagram, in email newsletters, and even magazines and other media.
Operators who sign up for a package with Fin & Field can use their photos to reach our audience of over 175,000 on social media, thousands of people on the website and blog each week, and to a much broader audience through our partnerships with Bonnier (Field & Stream) and Carbon Media (outdoorhub.com). If you already have some great photos, share a few of your best with a couple details and maybe we’ll include them in our social media in the coming weeks!
The good news is that taking better photos won’t require you to go sit in a classroom and learn about ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and digital editing. You also don’t need a ton of expensive gear. Keeping a few critical principles in mind will get you photos you can be proud of. Check out our abbreviated tips below and click to read more details.
It’s not the camera
Having a camera is obviously the most important part. Without one you won’t even be able to take an average photo, much less a great one. What camera to bring is becoming less important all the time. Consider where you hunt, what you have room for, and what features you want. Luckily, with the huge leaps made in digital photography, bringing along quality gear is easier and cheaper than ever.
The bottom line is, any camera you bring will take amazing photos as long as you are mindful of a few details.
Blue sky, green fields, and thick timber landscapes are all part of the reason we hunt. We all share a passion for being outside and in nature. If you make the effort to photograph an animal don’t photograph it in a truck or in your driveway. Composition has a huge impact on the quality of your image, here are some tips.
- Pick scenery that is natural habitat for that animal. This should be easy and will often simply be where the animal fell.
- If possible, silhouette the head and or antlers of the animal against the skyline. Being on a small rise can make that easier. If you aren’t able to capture the skyline just make sure the scene behind you is as neutral and distraction free as possible.
- Consider where the hunter will be, the best place for the hunter is often next to the animal rather than behind it. If behind the animal, stay low so that you don’t overshadow your trophy. As a show of respect you should never sit on the animal.
- Don’t be too wide or narrow with your framing. Capture some of the natural surrounding but focus primarily on the hunter and the trophy.
- Low angles are better. Keep the lens at or below eye level with the hunter.
- The sun should be behind the camera. Chose sunrise or sunset for the best light. Cloudy days are great for photos too but too much direct sun can make for harsh shadows. Use the camera flash on a sunny day to light up the shadows as best you can.
Look your best
The fisherman is usually the second most prominent subject in the photo, take a second to get yourself ready.
- We love our hats and sunglasses, but they are practically a disguise! When posing with your trophy tip your hat up a little bit or remove it and consider taking off your sunglasses.
- If it is hot or cold out you may have some other articles of clothing to deal with. If you have a face mask or neck gaiter it should be pulled down all the way or removed.
- Wear sunscreen, in addition to being important for your safety and health you don’t want a sunburn in your photo.
- Using a flash in bright daylight can help light the anglers face so that a hat wont cast a harsh shadow.
Composition, composition, composition
Blue sky, clear water, scenic coastline, and idyllic river banks are all part of the reason we fish. We all have a passion for being outside and in nature. Regardless of your plan to keep your catch or release it, take the time to compose your shot when your catch is still fresh. Composition has a huge impact on the quality of your image, here are some tips.
- The sun should be behind the camera. Luckily a lot of fishing is at sunrise and sunset so you can take advantage of the best light. Cloudy days are great for photos too but too much direct sun can make for harsh shadows. Use the camera flash on a sunny day to light up the shadows as best you can.
- If possible your silhouette should be against the skyline. A busy background will take away from the subjects of the photo (the angler and the fish).
- Don’t be too wide or narrow with your framing. Capture some of the natural surrounding but focus primarily on the angler and the catch.
- Obey the rule of 3rds. Your most interesting subjects should be on the ⅓ grid lines.
- Consider where the angler will pose. If you are on a boat, the best place for the angler is against the stern rail holding the fish high and SLIGHTLY away from your body. Do NOT straighten your arms to make the fish look bigger, you can’t really fool anyone that way.
- A slightly low angle is best. Keep the lens at or below eye level with the fish.
Pose your game
With a little care, your trophy can also look its best. Posing your trophy is about showing it off in the most natural and respectful way possible.
- Pose the animal in a natural state such as a bedding pose. This might mean tucking the legs, propping the torso upright, and positioning the tail.
- Clean up the areas visible to the camera. Wipe up dirt and blood from anywhere visible to the camera. Also, tuck the tongue back in the mouth. A clean natural looking animal not only looks better but is a show of respect.
Pose your Fish
With a little care, your trophy catch can look its best. Posing your fish is about showing off its size, natural color, and any specific characteristics.
- You want the fish to be as vibrant and natural looking as possible. That is how you will remember your catch so that is what the camera should record. Take the picture soon after catching the fish and rinse or hose off any dirt and blood. Be mindful of gaff marks. Wet the fish to get the most vivid colors possible.
- In the classic grip and grin pose the fish should have a posture with the head slightly forward and down. This means the tail will be higher than the head and moving slightly away from the camera.
- Angle the fish so the side catches the sun and really lights up. Usually that means tipping the dorsal fin slightly towards you
- Consider your hand placement, try not to cover the eyes or have your fingers inside the gill plate facing the camera. One hand near the tail, one hand by the pectoral or under the gill plate closest to your body.
- Some fish are easier to hold and/or will look better held head up tail down. In this case use one hand to push the tail out a little to catch the sunlight.
Think outside the boat
The tips above are just a starting point, a good way to achieve some classic shots. Get creative , be sure to try some new things as well. With the move to digital “film is cheap” so take a lot of pictures and keep the few good ones. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about alternative shots.
- An underwater camera can add a lot of options for your outdoor photography. An underwater point and shoot is available from most of the camera manufacturers and there are several waterproof action cameras that are reasonably priced as well.
- Fish live in the water not on land, to photograph them in their natural habitat you can get in the water with them. Stand anywhere from ankle to waist deep and hold the fish right at the surface. Also, if you plan to release the fish, it has a higher likelihood of survival if you never take it out of the water.
- Have your guide or a buddy take pictures of you while catching the fish. Salmonoids, billfish, dorado, tarpon, and many other species will jump when hooked and those can make for some very dramatic photos. An underwater shot of the hooked fish coming to the boat will tell the story in a dramatic way.
- Above or underwater pictures of the fish being released are proof that your catch swam away and make a great statement about your commitment to conservation.
- If your fish has a notable characteristic like the comb on a roosterfish, the sail on a sailfish, the mouth of a tarpon, or the teeth of a barracuda try and find a way to feature that one unique part.
- Lastly, some fish are so colorful it might be a good idea to get a close up of the head, eye, fins, etc…
- Try posing your trophy straight on and profile to capture different elements of the head and antlers.
- The default is to smile at the camera, but get some shots looking and admiring the animal.
- Get some candid shots throughout the day of your hunting party, these are great to tell a story that goes along with that trophy photo.
- This list is just a start, get creative! Try new things, some will work and some won’t but that is how we learn and get better.
About Fin & Field
Fin & Field is changing the way sportsmen find, compare, book and share their fishing and hunting adventures. We’ve consolidated the hunting and fishing industry into a powerful marketplace that connects sportsmen and operators (charter boats, fishing guides, hunting guides, lodges, marinas, outfitters, outdoor brands, and more). We’re using technology to drive more meaningful, fun, and efficient communication that’s making it easier for sportsmen to get the information they need to do what they love.
Book your next adventure at www.finandfield.com.