Pics or It Didn’t Happen: How to Take Great Photos of Your Fishing Trip
Feb 28, 2020 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The photo showing a person with a red cap wearing a yellow jacket and holding trout with a funny expression on his face

Knowing some basic fishing photography tips is a pretty useful skill.

You want to have a reminder of your time on the water, and something to share with fishing buddies who didn’t make it to that trip.

Photos of your catch are a just reward for all the bait chasing, rigging, casting, and pulling.

While it might look like a lot of hassle, it isn’t.

Taking amazing photos is actually pretty easy, you just need to learn a few simple tricks.

We’re going to show you 6 easy steps that can finally get you photos you won’t be embarrassed to show.

1. Take a Photo With the Sun Behind Your Back

You don’t want to end up with a silhouette holding a fish.

Avoid pointing the camera towards the direct sunlight.

An example of bad fishing photography: The photo showing a silhouette of an angler holding fish and standing on a boat with the sun directly behind him

While this could have been a good fishing photo, the direct sunlight hides the detail. We can barely see the angler, the fish scales look nowhere near as beautiful as they are, and the colors have lost a lot of their richness.

When taking a photo of your friend, shoot while the sun is behind you.

You will have plenty of light to capture all the hues while avoiding overexposure of the photo.

Photo with a good lighting showing a father and son smiling and holding pink snapper during a fishing charter
Here, the person taking the photo has the sun behind his back. The hues of the fish show clearly, the color of the sea, the anglers’ clothes, and the land in the background are all nicely visible.

Another trick is to wait for a cloud that will block the sun’s direct light and then make your shot. This also helps whoever is in the photo not to squint. You can also make good use of the boat. If you plan to keep the fish and eat it, you will have enough time to stand below the bimini and avoid direct sunlight.

2. Hold the Fish Firmly but Gently, With Both Hands

If you’re planning on releasing your catch, please make sure to hold the fish so that you don’t harm its gills or fins. What this means is that you want to avoid holding the fish by its jaw, or squeeze it too much in the middle part of its body.

The fish are made to move horizontally, and you should keep them that way. Also, make sure not to place your hands over any fins.

The key is to get a nice photo, but it’s even more important to keep the fish safe and able to survive after you return it to the water.

The photo of a smiling girl showing how to hold fish properly when taking photos of fish.

3. Tell a Story, Don’t Just Zoom in on the Fish

It’s easy to forget other aspects of your fishing trip when you’re holding the very first fish you’ve just caught. But, trust me, once you get back home, you’ll regret not capturing the whole experience.

The photo of John Dory zoomed in while an angler holds it in their hands

While this could have been a photo that rocks, it’s not. Catching John Dory can be a lot of fun, but the photo doesn’t do justice to the whole fishing trip. We get to see only the fish, but little of the rest of the fishing experience is there.

Try to save all the memories from your fishing trip. What was the weather like? What was the boat like? Were you fishing far offshore, or near some stunning scenery? Who was there with you? What were you wearing? What kind of gear did you use? Which bait did you use? Did you take your dog fishing too?

Fishing photography: Photo showing a father and son holding striped bass

Now, the photo above shows a pretty handsome fish, but it also instantly asks us to create a story. Who are these anglers? Where are they fishing? What’s the weather like? How did they catch Striped Bass?

When you set the scene right, you will end up with a photo that captures the moment perfectly – and you will have a reminder of how great your fishing trip was.

Think of things that are important to you and of those that aren’t. Then feel free to set the scene.

Look through the camera to see what’s going to end up on the photo. It sounds simple, but it can make a real difference. Which brings us to the next point:

4. Avoid Clutter in Your Photos

The good old ‘less is more’ can prove useful when taking a photo for your mantelpiece or Instagram.

Before taking the photo, have a look at the camera screen.

Is there a random bottle of water next to you and your catch? Should it be there?

Or, do you want someone’s elbow crashing your precious photo? Think of those things before you strike a pose. Whoever is taking the photo, should pay attention to the whole effect.

The photo showing an angler holding a pink snapper

This photo looks really good as is: the colors are rich, the Pink Snapper is a beauty, the angler’s clothes are in good contrast with the water behind, and he’s smiling. You can also see a bit of background which creates a story.

It could be even better if you apply a simple trick: leave out any extra objects.

In this case, the part of the boat (the very left side of the photo with yellow tiles) adds little to the whole story and takes up space which could have been better used.

Imagine if the photo had a little bit more water and background to the right. It would let you experiment more to get a good angle.

Even better, if the person taking the photo took a step back, she would manage to get a shot of the island in the background, get the whole fish to fit in the photo, and could avoid capturing a part of the boat that gives little information to the overall image.

Photo of a man holding pink snapper with the explanation on taking great fishing photos

5. Follow the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is the most common practice to follow when taking photos.

What does it mean? Basically, imagine breaking your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically.

You will end up with nine parts:

An angler holding a fish. The photo is showing fishing photography tips and how to use the rule of thirds.

The idea is to place elements of your photo – in your case, the fish, you, your fishing gear, the landscape, etc – along the lines or at the intersection points of these lines.

The human eye tends to go to one of these points/lines, rather than staring straight into the center.

In the photo above, the angler’s body is placed near the right third of the photo and the fish follows the line of the lower third of the photo.

However, sometimes, you will find an effective photo that should be right in the middle.

An angler holding a fish on a boat. The photo showing how you can break the rule of thirds on photography of fish and get good results
Here, most of the crucial aspects – the angler and the fish – are placed near or around the center, which can be equally effective.

6. Keep your camera dry

Keeping your camera dry while fishing can be challenging. You’re on the water, you probably reach out for some drinks or sunscreen, and you get the camera lens dirty or wet. Eventually, you end up with a photo that’s not the most memorable one, although fishing was on fire.

Blurry photo of people and fish caught on their trip standing in the marina with boats in the background

Make sure to keep your sunscreen and any other liquids in different compartments of your backpack from your camera.

I know – sometimes you just don’t have the time. However, a little effort can get you better photos.

If you get the lens wet or fogged up, make sure to clean it properly and double check before you shoot. While it’s safest to take your camera to a professional to clean it, you might not have that luxury when on a boat. In that case, either pack a quality brush with you to remove any dirt from the lens or bring lens tissues. Lens tissues are an inexpensive way to clean your camera and work well even in case you spill something on the lens.

Next time you go on a fishing trip, follow these fishing photography tips and you will make better photos in no time!

What does your favorite fishing photo look like? Do you have any fishing photography tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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