A fish in the hand lasts a minute or two, a photo lasts forever, or something along those lines. No matter how you feel about fishing, photos of fish are cool. Eventually you will want to put down the rod and pick up the camera and start getting shots. Your friends will love you for it too, everyone loves pictures of themselves. We are all secretly narcissists. So if you want to gain popularity amongst your friends and take some cool photos of fish, here are some tips to getting started.

tarpon on the fly - fly fishing for tarponStart with your smartphone

Didn’t expect to hear that? Phone’s cameras are great and almost always readily accessible. I shoot on a Canon 7d mII, yet most of my fishing photos are still on my Iphone. If my rod is in my hand it is a whole lot easier just to reach in to my pocket and point and shoot. Make sure that you throw on a waterproof case and shoot away. Whenever taking photos of fish, avoid backlighting them, it eliminates their colors in the photo.

Don’t expect to catch fish

If you truly want to commit to capturing great moments, put down the rod and focus on the camera. Even if you are fishing, make sure it is easy to grab your camera. Photography is often capturing a specific and candid moment, don’t let it pass by.

Avoid cliches

tarpon on the fly - fly fishing for tarponJust like in writing, avoiding cliches will improve your photography. Don’t take photos of someone holding a fish up to the camera or simply casting. Get creative. Find the photos that capture iconic moments in a unique way. The stress of someone trying to grab the lip of a tarpon. The frustration when someone misses a shot at a permit, these photos will be far better than the typical “hey look what I caught.” photo. 

Learn how to expose a camera

Whether you are using a point and shoot or a big, fancy DSLR, having a proper exposure and white balance makes all the difference. There are three main controls to a camera. Aperture. Shutter speed. ISO. Look these up and learn how they work. Putting a camera in manual is like driving a stick shift, a little more work for way more control. Once you learn this, dive into the picture settings of your camera. Learn about picture style and white balance. It is shockingly easy and once you learn this, you will notice huge improvements with your photos. 

Tarpon on the fly - saltwater fly fishing magazine - tail fly mag

Divide up your memory

It is tempting to buy one 128GB memory card and call it a day. But if something were to happen to that card, you lose everything. Instead buy four 32GB cards. Remember, just like a fly line affects a rod’s performance, a memory card affects a camera’s performance. If your card has a slow read/write time, your camera will be slowed down. So don’t cheap out on memory.

Invest in lenses, not cameras

A $500 lens on a $200 body will take better photos than any kit lens on a $10,000 body. The glass in front of the camera is far more important than the muscle behind it. So save your money and invest in a nicer lens. It may seem like a lot of money to start, but cameras last longer than fly rods as long as you don’t drop them. If you are new and do not know what you want, something around a 50mm is a great place to start.

saltwater fly fishing magazine - Tarpon on the fly

Take as many photos as possible

When you are starting out, not every photo will be good. In fact, most will be terrible, but if you take hundreds if not thousands of photos, you will eventually take one that is professional quality. As you improve, more and more photos will be of this quality. Just keep the camera in your hands and keep shooting.