Angling Photography

M.H. Hussaini
Articles / Angling Photography
Posted on: 2017-09-23 12:58:13 +0530 (IST)

Angling Photography


Angling Photography

In the time of yore, hunters use to go to great lengths to preserve their trophy. The art of taxidermy was on its peak and their business was flourishing. Due to the difficulty and cost involved in preserving a trophy, it was not possible for everyone to get his trophy stuffed and only few privileged had the pleasure of proudly displaying their kills in their elaborate halls or personal museums.

A stuffed trophy or a skin preserved is prone to decay with time and with the colour and lustre fading, these trophies tend to lose their charm and were ultimately discarded from their showcases to fade into oblivion. Even at that time the use of a basic camera was in use and today we find many a photographs of amazing events surviving the decay of time and give joy to many who were not even born then.

Man-eater of Champawat. This photo of Jim Corbett has survived the decay of time and still gives a thrill to all of us who have heard the story of this tiger.

Times have changed now and with the advent of digital camera it has become very easy for us to record any event without much fuss. We as angler too want to preserve our catches for ever and now have the tool in the form of a digital camera. A correctly clicked photograph of a trophy catch can be stored, displayed and shared without any hassles and can last an eternity.

In the modern and ethical practices of sport fishing, with the concept of catch and release, it has become imperative on every angler’s part to master the art of capturing a good fish by taking a correct photograph. A correctly taken photograph gives the angler the ultimate satisfaction of having his trophy catch preserved for ever, without even killing it! A correctly taken photograph of a fish not only enhances its beauty but is also essential in order to release your trophy catch safely. Utmost care and understanding is required while photographing a catch and learning the rudiments of angling photography is essential for us Anglers.

I am not a professional photographer so will not be able to explain the complex features and ways to operate a modern camera but I do know that by keeping the camera on auto mode and learning few basic tricks, one can easily take good photographs which will suffice our requirement as an angler.

Selecting a Camera:       

In today’s time the best equipment to capture our catch is a digital Camera but it is not recommended to carry a fancy and expensive camera for recording your catch. The condition during a rugged and action filled trip is not conducive for these fancy equipments and proximity to water and humid conditions can render our expensive equipment useless.

Almost all the time the picture is taken from close quarter and thus the use of a Tele lens is not required. The camera should have a minimum of 35mm wide-angle lens. Any focal length less then 35mm is an added advantage. Preferable the camera should be HD and have a Flash option if you also like fishing in the night. Carrying a diffused light such as multi-LED lamp comes handy for taking a snap in the dark.


As the purpose of taking a snap of a catch is not only to obtain a trophy cenotaph but to release it safely, utmost care and understanding is required in not only photography techniques but also in fish handling. Holding a fish out of water is akin to one holding his head under water. Also the body of a fish is covered with protective slime and damaging it can cause serious problem to the fish after release.

Here a word of caution is in order. The gills, spines, scales or barb of some fish can cause serious injury, trauma or even death to a person so it is essential that one should take utmost care and know about the species of the fish one intends to handle for a photo shoot.

All preparations to take a photo should be made beforehand and in case of any delay, the fish should be kept underwater. Wet your hands before handling the fish and do not put it on a dry or coarse surface. Utmost care is to be taken that the slime accumulated on the body of the fish is not damaged. 

Taking the Shot.

Some tips to follow while taking the shot:

  • Wash the fish very gently from the water it has been caught.
  • It is recommended to pose with the fish while sitting so as to cause minimal harm in case the fish slides out of your hand.
  • Never hold the fish by gills or tail. Try and hold the fish, using both hands so as the weight of fish is equally supported.
  • Tap the belly of the fish gently with your finger. This makes the fish to erect all its fins.

Incorrect Way                                                                                         Correct Way

(Photo courtesy M.H. Husaini)                                                           (Photo courtesy Abbey Fizardo)

Framing the picture is of utmost importance. A correctly framed photo, with a proper background makes the result a worthwhile effort and becomes a trophy specimen for the angler. Here are few pointers to take a memorable snap of your catch:

  • Always take a photo with the source of light behind you, whether it is the sun or any artificial light.
  • Frame the subject that is the angler and the fish with a solid background. Make sure that the subject is completely in the frame without leaving too much space around. Framing the subject with water behind also gives good photographs.
  • Avoid any obstacles like overhanging branch, grass or any such thing which can affect the focus of your auto mode camera.
  • In case of fishing alone, always carry a tripod and learn to operate delay timer. Put a marker on the place you wish to frame your photo. Pre frame the photo and be prepared with everything before pressing the shoot button. It is recommended to take only one photo so as not to place the fish on the ground and stress it.
  • Focus on the front or side of the fish. Showing too much of the belly or top will not result in a good picture.

Though this chapter is dedicated to capturing a good catch, angling photography is not limited to clicking a good fish and the proud angler. A true angler is always awake to his surrounding and during his time spent beside the water bodies, witness many unusual happenings which a cursory observer may fails to register. To capture those moments is the essence of angling photography. The best photographs are the ones which tells a story.

Photo Courtesy: Rodin Rahman

For example, the photograph posted above, not only shows the captor and the fish correctly, it also tells us about the surrounding it was caught. The viewer can not only admire the catch but can also admire the surrounding. Some good photographs can describe the topography and as such fishing spots to others. The photograph below is a classical example of that.

Photo Courttesy: M.H. Hussaini

Many a silhouette snaps give amazing effects and can be a joy to watch. The multitude of colours on the horizon during sunrise or sunset are never the same and every time give different results.  Understanding the correct light to capture these moments is essential and comes with a bit of practise.

Photo Courtesy: M. H. Husaini

Give as much time to honing your photography skills as much as to angling. This will let you preserve and share your precious memorable moments and who knows; one day you might capture something which will become a joy for generations to come......