Fishing Photography Part #2: Beyond The Grip & Grin

Last blog I talked about the classic “grip-and-grin” style of fishing photography, and offered some tips on how to improve your end results. As I explained, “grip-and-grin” is a sometimes-disparaging term used to describe the commonest style of fishing photos: images consisting of a delighted angler proudly showing off his or her catch while smiling at the camera. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty, both good and bad!

There’s nothing wrong with the classic “grip-and-grin”…

As I wrote last time, there’s nothing wrong with this style of shot, especially if it’s done well. Most fellow anglers love looking at your grip-and-grins… if they’re any good! But of course, the grip-and-grin is (or should be) only a tiny part of any fishing photographer’s total bag of tricks. Those of us genuinely interested in portraying the recreational angling world that we love — be it for a private photo album, a club night, Facebook, blogs, websites or even a professional magazine feature — need to develop a talent for conveying a visual narrative of the places, people, fish and experiences that mean so much to us. In other words, we need to tell a story with our images. As the old adage goes, a picture tells a thousand words… or it should!

… but don’t forget to come in tight too. Show how the fish was caught. Tell a visual story!

Getting this right means thinking well beyond the grip-and-grin and picking up the camera far more often than you normally would when simply recording those occasional momentous catches. To really tell the story, you need to develop the habit of photographing the places where you fish, the tracks that lead you there, the wildlife encountered along the way, your campsite, the sunrises and sunsets, the other characters you meet on your adventures and — most important of all — the action that takes place. Nothing screams fishing excitement louder than a bending rod and a straining angler, or a net reaching out towards that tired but still far-from-beaten fish. These are the images that best tell our story, and which flesh out all the gaps in the viewer’s mind on the path to that final, victorious grip-and-grin brag shot.