The appropriately named “Grip n Grin” aka “Hero Shot” has taken on an interesting stigma of late. Instagram and social media trolls combined with the “keep em wet” movement have people taking fewer and fewer photos of a person simply smiling, holding a fish. Overall I would say this is a positive trend. We should always prioritize the fish’s health and you really don’t need a photo of you holding every fish you have ever caught. That being said, there is nothing wrong with taking a couple photos of someone holding a fish out of the water, especially if it is done the right way. My favorite souvenir from most fishing trips is a photo of me holding a large or special fish. Often times that fish is the reason I went on the trip in the first place and it is amazing how looking back on certain photos can bring you right back in the moment when you landed your trophy. I truly believe successful catch and release can be done with a quick photo as long as you prioritize taking care of the fish. Leave him in the water as long as possible and always wet your hands before touching any fish. If the fish starts to look pale, lose its color, or bleed, immediately put it in the water before reviving and releasing it. But for the healthy fish that are special catches you want a photo with, here are some pointers to get the most out of that shot.
- Sun Angle. The photographer wants the sun coming over their shoulder. Shooting into the sun can give you an unintended silhouette.
- Hold the fish vertical (straight up and down). When the fish gets tilted, the color will not show up well in the photo.
- Consider holding the fish partially in the water. This is the only way we try and photograph species like wild steelhead but this can be a nice touch for any species.
- Have the photographer do their best to keep the camera level so that the horizon is completely horizontal.
- You don’t have to be front and center in the photo. Of times the angler positioned to one of the sides is a more captivating photo. Are you familiar with the Rule of Thirds?
- Smile! You just caught a special fish, you should be happy! Ignore the tough guy look and show some pearly whites. Your emotion and enthusiasm will help tell the story behind the fish.
- Click away. Memory (storage space) is pretty much free and modern cameras or phones can take multiple photos rapidly. Take advantage of this and shoot a bunch in a row, one will always come out slightly better than the others.
Finally, like we touched on earlier, always prioritize the health of the fish. Wet your hands before touching any fish and do not hold them out of the water too long. These are the obvious points but there are other factors to consider. Was it a particularly long fight for the fish? Are the water temps too warm? These are instances where a fish will be experiencing extra stress so additional care should be taken. Fish landed during certain circumstances like these are the best ones to forgo a photo and quickly release them. And don’t forget, you can always just take a close up photo of the fish in the water.
More on Fishing Photography: