Tip #1: Check your lighting and shadows.
Lighting and shadows are the most crucial elements to control when taking a quality photograph. Obviously, catching that trophy fish cannot always happen during the most optimal times of daylight. Avoid shooting your subject directly into the sun because this can cause harsh shadowing along the face and body. One way you can eliminate shadows on sunny days is by using your flash to fill in the dark spots of your subject. This will prevent the person from being completely in silhouette while the rest of the image is bright. Make sure that your subject removes his/her sunglasses and raises his/her hat up a bit to aid in reducing shadows. During overcast days, try taking pictures with and without flash. Most digital cameras these days have a cloudy day option.
Tip #2: Use a tripod.
Sure, there are many situations that you wouldn’t want to carry a tripod along. However, this handy tool is essential for preventing blurry photos. When photographing fish, most people do not have the stability to hold the camera long enough for the fish to stop flopping around and eventually introduce camera shake. Most tripods these days are less than $60, which makes a tripod a wise investment.
Tip #3: Get close to what you are photographing.
The goal here is to fill the picture area with the subject you are photographing. Getting closer to your subject also allows the photograph to show more color and details of the day’s catch. Spawning colors of Rainbow Trout, defined spots and a hook jaw of a male Brown Trout are all distinguishing characteristics that should be captured in a quality photograph. Be conscious not only of what you are intending to photograph but what may be behind the scene of your photograph. When people are admiring your trophy fishing photo, you want them to stay focused on you and your catch. Be aware of objects like an old rusty wash machine in the river, old corn cans laying on the bank, or “No Trespassing” signs in the background, which can negatively affect the quality of the experience, even when you have permission to fish private waters.
Tip #4: Show the fish, not your fingers.
This photograph is the moment of truth. The worst thing you can do is catch a trophy fish and have a photograph of nothing but the head of the fish and all your fingers. The best advice here is to put the net in between your legs, wet your hands, and gently reach in to grab the fish. Place one thumb long the top of the head and the other thumb just above where the tail begins. Wrap your fingertips along the bottom of the gill plates to the belly and along the end of the belly toward the tail. After you have control of the fish, extend your arms to whoever is taking the photograph. If the fish gets jumpy, you can just lower the fish back into the net, and repeat the previous steps.
Tip #5: Take more than one picture.
Once the fish is secured in the net, snap a few shots of the angler holding the fish. Make sure you get several photographs from different angles that include the angler and some that are just of the fish itself. Some of these shots can include capturing the angler just before he/she releases the fish back into the water, or a macro shot of the fly hanging out of the fish’s mouth. The object here is to get a variety of different photos to use in case some are not as quality as others. Usually, the best pictures are the ones that are not staged or taken when the subject is not aware that they are being photographed.
Remember that we are practicing Catch & Release so use good judgment when handling the fish, and try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
To enter your trophy photo in our “Fish of the Month Challenge,” email us at email@example.com!