Photography Basics: Capturing Captivating Pictures

Photography is an art, science, and skill in no particular order. My intention of this article is to explain the fundamentals and science of photography, however the art of photography is something that can’t just be learned, this is where the expression that one has ‘an eye for photography’ comes from.

To start out, there are 4 main concepts that I always encourage photographers to keep in mind.

  • The subject
  • Lighting
  • Background
  • Emotion

These concepts can be broken down further and we’ll dive in with the subject.

The Photography Subject

What you’re photographing is, the subject. Your objective should be to draw the viewers eyes to the subject, while telling a story. The latter part of that sentence is something important for you to bear in mind and realize that a cinematic photograph is a dynamic piece of work.

You’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is why it’s important to include the 4 concepts I’ve outlined earlier into your photo.

The first mistake an amateur photographer will usually make is putting the subject smack in the middle of a photo. A great example of this is catching a fish, laying it on the center consul of the boat or on the ground, and snapping a shot. The problem is this really doesn’t tell a story to someone looking at the picture. The viewer has no idea what the boat or terrain looks like that you’re fishing, there’s no telling what type of water you’re fishing, and you can’t tell what the weather was like. Take this same snapshot of a fish and offset it to the side so you can get some depth in the photo and you’ll be able to see the boat or land you’re fishing from, the water in the background, and the skylight. Here’s an example:

Photography Fish Example 1
Photography Fish Example 2


The Importance of Lighting

The next thing to keep in mind is the lighting. When you’re photographing something like a fish, you want to make sure you’re not casting any shadows on it, and that you’re showing off it’s beauty. For fish like mahi-mahi that have chromatophores that are very light sensitive it’s important you take a photo before you throw them on ice. Once they are on ice, they lose that beautiful vivid color which takes away from the photo. When the sun is rising or setting and the ambient light is softer, you can use the sunrsise/sunset to your advantage by putting it to you back. This helps tell a story such as the tarpon picture below that was caught at sundown. A camera with a bigger sensor than the iPhone this was photographed with would help take in more light and create a better exposure.

Tarpon at Sunset

Keep Your Background in Mind

The next thing to keep in mind is the background. The background is very important to give the viewer a broader picture of what’s going on. It’s important to show the subject, but the background is equally if not more important and is often overlooked by an amateur photographer. The background of the picture helps tell the story of where the photo happened and what was going on. This ties in with the placement of the subject and the rule of thirds. See the example of a cutthroat trout I caught for a great example with the Teton Mountains in the backdrop. The subject is me holding a cutthroat trout, but the photo being offset allows you to see that I’m fishing the Snake River with some beautiful scenery. It wasn’t by luck that those mountains are in the backdrop, the guide who shot the photo got the boat anchored in a position that we could capture a cinematic shot, using my iPhone.

Photography Rule of Thirds

Capturing the Emotion of the Image

The last thing I want to stress to capture in your next photo shoot is emotion. This is not always easy to do, sometimes you need to take a candid shot where the subject isn’t even ready for the shoot, and other times you need to be ready as a cameraman so you can capture the shot when the subject is naturally happy, nervous, scared, excited, sad, angry etc. I’ll leave this photo of Elliot as a great example that incorporates the subject, lighting, background and emotion all in the photo. I like this example because he’s not even looking at the camera yet you can see he is totally stoked about the King Salmon he just landed.

Photography Emotion Picture

You can see the Cervicide branding and if you look close on his left wrist Angler-Pros branding as well in the photo yet it’s not over the top. There’s great lighting on the fish, you can see we’re on a large body of water with no end in site, he’s fishing from a boat, and that he just landed the fish as there’s slime/water splashing off the bottom of the fish. If you look really close you can see the flaws of the iPhone portrait mode at the gap of his hand and the fishes mouth as well as by his right elbow, no one will likely notice this, however a DSLR with a properly set aperture would eliminate that, we can save that for another blog.

At the end of the day, there is no amount of literature that will make you an expert photographer. You need to get out there an take photos, and practice, practice, practice. Our Angler-Pros resources like our private Facebook page is a great place to go to learn and ask questions and get constructive criticism. The only thing that will make you a better photographer is repetition and being willing to learn. Every photo in this blog was done with an iPhone and the reason I chose these examples is to show you don’t need crazy expensive gear or editing equipment to create amazing content. Take some great pics, submit them, and we’ll keep pushing out the best ones in our crew gallery!

I hope this blog helped, tight lines!

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