You’ve hooked, battled and landed an awesome fish. You get your mate to take some photos for bragging rights on Facebook or maybe to sit in prime position on the wall of fame at home. The shot turns out dark, boring and flat, damn! I’ve seen it all too many times and I’ve also been guilty of doing this myself. There’s nothing worse than having such an awesome fishing memory spoilt by an average photo.


Most people think you have to be a professional photographer, own a whizz-bang camera and always shoot in manual mode to get a great shot of a fish, this is 100% untrue. So today I thought I’d put together a few very basic tips and tricks to help both the fish holder and fish shooter.



Dominic Wiseman taking a shot of me that ended up running as a double page spread in Modern Fishing - whoo hoo!



First things first, you want to set up the shot. If possible, position the angler in an area without a distracting background and in good light. Depending on how you want the shot to look, move the boat to get the desired effect. Most fishy images have the angler facing the light source (the sun) but get creative and experiment. If you’ve got a flash, try backlighting (the sun behind the angler). Use flash to fill in the shadows.



WRONG                                                          RIGHT

By moving the angler and the boat slightly, this image looks 100 times better. 


Use a flash to fill in the shadows.



Now most people seem to struggle with this one – holding the fish. It seems so easy in theory but fish are slippery, slimy and usually uncooperative models. If you’re holding the fish, hold it properly. If you’re shooting the angler, direct them into position. Depending on the size of the fish, there're a few different ways to present them to the camera. The most common is to whack one hand under the closest gill (the side not pointing towards the camera), use your other hand to support their stomach or grab their tail. Keep the fish up high and close to your face. Now for the trick…  Stretch your arms out and hold the fish away from your body, towards the camera - the closer, the bigger it’ll look. Say cheese and don’t forget to smile!




Do everything opposite to this photo and you should be alright. 




The old saying of “fresh is the best and live is better” doesn’t only apply to bait. You always want to shoot your catch in the best possible condition. Blood is a part of fishing, there’s no way to avoid it. However, try clean up your fish before you photograph it, spray it with the deck wash, dunk it back into the water or clean it up with a rag before you start taking photographs. Now there’s nothing wrong with taking home a feed for a feast of fish fingers but photograph the fish while it’s alive, vibrant and full of colour. If anyone wanted to see a huge haul of dead fish they’d go to the fish shop.



Obviously this tuna is coming home for dinner, avoid blood in your fishing snaps.


Use a deck wash or rag to ensure no blood is in the shot. 




As I said earlier, you don’t need to shoot in manual exposure mode. Use aperture or shutter priority modes, and if everything I just said was gibberish to you, leave it in auto! It’s all about capturing that moment, a marlin jumping or the angler laughing.



If you spend too much time playing with your camera you might miss the shot.


Capture the action!



Once the angler is positioned correctly, holding the fish firmly and smiling ear to ear, shoot away. Capture the moment and then try perfect on that; fill the frame with the subject, focus on the fishes eye and aim to keep your horizon as straight as possible. You should have a winner on your hands.



Fill the frame with the fish. You beauty!




                                         WRONG                                                          RIGHT

Straight horizons look more natural to your eye, try keep em' straight.




Lastly, once you’ve got your winning shot, get the angler to inject personality into the photo. It always makes things more interesting. 


To see more examples of fishing shots check out my website gallery here:



Don't forget to smile!
Try something different. 

Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email or leave a comment below.


Until next Wednesday,




© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography



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