Social media has granted fisherman the opportunity to admire fishing photos around the world. Giant tuna, colorful reef fish, and brilliant brown trout frequent my Instagram feed. Consistently posting bright, attractive fishing snapshots has increased the following into the thousands for many brands and individual fishermen alike. So what makes a photograph the perfect depiction of the moment? How do you make a professional quality portrait to impress your buddies? With a few simple tips and techniques, you can easily increase the quality and clarity of your angling accomplishments.

1. The Camera

It doesn’t take an expensive DSLR camera or compact camera to take the perfect shot. Obviously, having one of those is a great upgrade. Fortunately, smartphones now have the ability to absorb all the color and effect of the scene without expensive equipment. The key is knowing how these cameras work. They don’t have an optical zoom. In short, the digital zoom on a phone doesn’t keep the same quality of pixels when enlarged. So, by simply avoiding using the digital zoom you will increase the clarity of your picture. Even if that fish seems a little too far away, you can always edit the non-zoomed photo after the fact. The file is bigger than you may think. This is an easy fix to avoiding blurry, pixelated images.


Redfish captured on my Iphone 5

2. Light It Up!

Lighting, lighting, lighting. It’s always important to bring out the contrast and color of the situation. The worst shots posted online have long, dark shadows, and keep viewers wondering if you’re even holding a fish. This is maybe one of the most common problems plaguing fishing albums. Turn your body towards the light and show that fish off to Helios. Attempt to not squint for 3 seconds or put on some polarized shades, and your fishing moment will forever be saved in all its beauty.


Perfect lighting on this tripletail

3. The Deceased

Dead fish are ugly. Mahi mahi should be photographed in full color when they are alive. If you wait until they die, they turn grey and dark. Even the most bland fish, like a king mackerel, shows off shades of blue, gold, and purple prior to being placed on ice. If the dorsal fins aren’t displayed in full stance and the fish’s eyes are cloudy, it can badly hamper an otherwise awesome catch. Sure, there can be some great photos of full coolers and stacks of flounder. But, overall, the most popular snapshots online depict fish that are still begging to be thrown back into the water.


That sucker is dead and ugly.

4. Closer!

Hold that sucker out! My father always made the smallest child hold a big fish to improve the perspective. If the fish was as tall as the youngest son, it made an unforgettable photo. You may not always have a child on board, but you can still make that lunker look like more than a small logo on your belly. Holding a fish out with your upper arm at about 15-20 degrees from vertical can really make that fish appear impressive. The smallest baitfish can become a goliath grouper if you try hard enough.


Little Andrew helping us with perspective

5. Modelling Time, Work It Baby

After a front facing shot, take some more interesting angles. Take a close up of the face of the fish looking into the camera. Adding depth into the picture can add a professional touch to the image. Trying multiple shots can really increase the odds that you will find the perfect photo when scrolling through the files at home. If you practice catch and release, this sequence of photos should be taken in a timely fashion. After some practice, it will become routine. Boat-side and release photos can sometimes be additional jewels on the memory card.


Trout angled to show more depth

6. Crop It, Color It, Brighten It

Finally, editing has become incredibly accessible through apps and computer programs. Instagram offers plenty of filters and adjustments, as do many other free apps. But this can quickly be abused. Photos that become rapidly popular stand out, but don’t have too much contrast, structure, or saturation. An over contrasted image can be difficult to appreciate. Likewise, over saturating an image is blatantly obvious. That redfish shouldn’t have purple stripes, and rainbow trout don’t have a 6-inch radius of glow. Subtle changes are the answer. You don’t need to go to 100% with the scroll bar in the editing tool. Try 20-30%, sometimes more or less. The photo should look like it wasn’t edited.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout in Pennsylvania, Slightly over-edited

7. Most Important Advice Ever

Finally, don’t ever keep your fishing mates from catching fish by taking too many photos. If the bite is on, get a line in the water. Don’t waste time on this, unless it’s the fish of a lifetime.


Stringer of trout taken after all the fish were caught

Got more advice? Leave a comment below.

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