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Jun 25, 2019 10:07 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

A Reminder On What Makes A Good Fish Photo

Jun 25, 2019 10:22 AM

This past week was a good one for some fishermen, and there have been a lot of trophy fish on display.But some fishermen display their catches better than others.

In the age of Facebook and Instagram, a lot more anglers are aware of what a good fish photo looks like and are invested in capturing a “Like”-able image. The mates and captains of some of the local party and charter boats, in particular, have become excellent photographers, because they have seen how good photos of their customers with their catches draws business to their decks.

For someone who is always in search of good fish photos to adorn the pages of The Press newspapers or 27east.com, that has been a big help (please send photos to mikewright@pressnewsgroup.com).

But there are still plenty of folks who could use a few pointers on fish photography. So, once again, I’d like to offer a brief refresher course on capturing a photo that will be a trophy of your days on the water, long after dinner is over.

There are a few quick things to remember that I’ll circle back to later: get close, get closer, get the entire fish in the photo, get the angler’s entire face and head in the photo, tell them to smile, get closer.

Okay, now that you have your quick references, here’s how to make a decently constructed photo much better.

To start with, take the photo right away. A fish fresh out of the water will have all its iridescent plumage on display, it’s fins extended in defensive posture, and will be glistening with brine that captures sunlight and flashbulb light in a great way. Wait an hour or two till you get back to the dock, and the fish will be gray and blotchy and stiff with rigor mortis and look more like a slab of meat than one of Mother Nature’s majestic creatures.

Some anglers enjoy photos with a fish’s blood cascading across its body in a barbaric display of their conquest. They are overcompensating for some insecurity, I suppose. I don’t care for it, and I try not to use such photos for display.

Yes, sometimes a certain amount of blood in a photo is inevitable, especially with fish like tuna that have been gaffed (tuna are basically the ONLY fish that anyone should be gaffing in the Northeast), but I find it best to rinse off any blood, including on the deck where the angler is standing, before snapping a photo.

Okay, so now you have to pick up the fish for the photo. I know this can be tricky with young kids or inexperienced anglers who may be grossed out by a slimy fish and thoroughly freaked out if it flops in their hands. But a little encouragement and instruction on how to get a good grip will go a long way.

The best way for anyone to get a solid hold on a fish is to place the index finger and middle finger inside one of the fish’s gill plates, sliding them forward along the inside of the plate (be careful not to touch the actual gills if you are planning to release the fish) all the way into the crook of the jaw. Place your thumb on the outside of the gill plate, and squeeze. This will give the angler holding the fish a firm grip if the fish flops and allow you to adjust how you’re going to hold the fish up in a number of ways.

With smaller fish species, weighing under 15 pounds, let’s say—black sea bass, fluke, porgies, bluefish, etc.—I think it is best to hold the fish horizontally. Sometimes a nice striper held this way is good, too, if the angler is strong enough to hold it level.

With one hand in the gill plate, the angler should take the other hand and place it under the belly of the fish, right about where the anal fin is (that’s the one on the bottom of the fish, about three-quarters of the way to the tail). Have them hold the fish with as little of their hands visible as possible.

Hold the fish out, toward the camera, just a little bit—not so much that their arms are fully extended—and raise it up so that it is about breast high and not blocking the angler’s face.

If the person is holding the fish horizontally, the person with the camera (phone) MUST hold it horizontally too! Move closer so that the fish takes up most of the width of the frame. Other than the head and shoulders, you do not need to get any more of the person’s body in the photo, so the fish should be in the bottom half of the frame.

For bigger fish, like large striped bass, trophy fluke or mid-sized tuna, the best way to hold them is usually vertically. In that case, the same grip on the jaw under the gill plate as the main anchor, the other hand can be used to grasp the top side of the gill plate for a very heavy fish, or used to just prop up the middle of the fish a little. (See the attached photo of Chad Binder by Hilton Crosby, executed well by both angler and photographer.)

Again, for the photographer, the most important things to check before you click the photo is that the entire fish is in the frame, preferably with a small bit of space between all of its parts and the edge of the image, and that the person’s entire head is in the photo, including whatever hat they might be wearing.

After that, you can get creative. For photos with the fish held vertically, especially, kneeling down and shooting upward makes for a more impressive perspective of the fish—again, making sure the entire fish and the person’s entire face are in the frame.

Holding one part of the fish toward the camera, either the head or tail, can be a good look at the fish’s features (see: photo of Finn and his fluke, taken by Sharon Quaresimo).

Staging a photo with the fishing rod in hand or on the side of the boat or with the background of the fishing spot on display will help set the scene well, too.

In summation, take the time when a fish is first captured to snap a good photo. Get the person’s whole head and the fish in the picture.

And get closer!

Catch ’em up, and send me the photos. See you out there.

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