Perspective adds dimension to photos
Dozens of my photos have been featured on magazine covers since I began working in the outdoor industry in the mid-1990s. And most of them were taken when I was in the boat with my subject.
The formula was pretty straightforward: Catch a fish — preferably a big fish — and get the angler to kneel on the front deck while I shot away. If I wanted to get creative, I would lean out of the boat, often with my only my feet wedged under the boat’s console to prevent me from falling in.
Who could argue with that? After all, it worked, and my photographs were being used.
And then I was invited to a 2006 media trip at Lake Guntersville, where the goal was spending a few days with some of the nation’s top pros shooting photos and gathering story material. The first day, I followed my routine and captured some decent images.
That first evening, all of the writers/photographers sat around editing photos, and I looked over the shoulder of a guy named Mark Hicks, whom I had met only the day before. I was blown away by the bass fishing photography on his laptop.
Sure, the lighting was good, and the rules of composition were followed. But the real difference was the perspective: Mark was obviously not in the boats of the anglers he shot.
And a light bulb sparked to light. I couldn’t wait to give it a try the next day when I hopped on the boat with Texas pro Alton Jones, who was to go on to win the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.
I didn’t have waders like some of the photographers had packed for the trip, so I just told Alton I needed to find a shallow cove off the main lake with a bottom hard enough for me to stand without sinking to my knees. He knew just the place.
It was a scary thing when I first slipped into the water, holding a camera that wouldn’t do well under water. But I carefully maneuvered into place, and Alton laid down on the deck and picked up a nice bass time after time while I shot.
I gained confidence with each snap of the shutter, and the series of images were light years ahead of my images of just 24 hours before. Today, I spend as time out of a boat as possible when I’m on fishing shoots, and the results are much better bass fishing photography that editors can’t wait to put in their magazines.