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Fish Photography 101

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Minimising hand and finger exposure will help the fish stand out

Despite being an avid fisho myself, I must admit that I find taking photos of others and their fish captures almost equally as enjoyable. Photos are often all we have left to remember a particular trip or fish by, so it makes perfect sense to aim for the best still shots achievable. With the image quality settings on offer through mobile phones and digital cameras these days, you’d almost think it would be hard to take a bad photo, however this is well far from the truth.

Don’t get me wrong as I’m not implying that everyone out there needs to be a professional photographer, and I consider myself far from being one, but we should all take the time to learn some basic essentials required to achieve better fishy photos. So let’s take a look at a number of factors at the photographer’s discretion that can very well make the difference between a memorable shot and one that you’d rather forget.


Simplicity is a key thought when it comes to taking photos of any nature, and fishing pics are no different. Cluttered backgrounds will detract the eye away from main focal points, so take a few extra seconds to remove background objects like fishing rods, boating gear or even other anglers. Shoot in front of a simple backdrop where possible, and take your time to ensure any horizon shots are kept relatively level. Always aim to fill the screen with the main image, otherwise the angler or fish will quickly become lost within the photo. When doing this, position yourself well in relation to the angler rather than using the zoom function unnecessarily, as zooming reduces image quality and resolution.

Weather conditions can play havoc with any style of photography, but it can also be your best friend at times. Although we can’t pick and choose the weather, having a few tricks up your sleeve to combat different conditions when taking photos will help give you a better final product. Overcast skies are most favourable for capturing quality fishing photos, as sunnier days can result in overexposed images. The photographer should always aim to keep his/her back to the sun when shooting, as this will help ensure shadows across faces or the fish are kept to a minimum, as well as reduce background glare, especially when water or bright surfaces are involved. Shadows are a pain when taking photos and it is often those clear sunny days that make it quite difficult to grasp a quality shot because of this. Most associate using a camera flash indoors or at night time, but using a fill flash is a quick and simple way to overcome shadow issues and help the main image jump out of the page. Be mindful of any other objects that may also interfere with lighting, such as bimini canopies and rocket launchers, and if fishing out of a boat not at anchor, it may pay to quickly manoeuvre into a good position to try and nullify any of the above mentioned issues.

Grab and Grin

Holding a fish for a quick happy snap seems like a pretty simple concept, but in order to grasp that perfect shot it requires a lot of feedback to the angler on the photographer’s behalf. Fish should be held comfortably to achieve the most natural shots, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and orientation to try something different. It must be said that as fishermen we are renowned for exaggerating the truth somewhat, and we all ideally want our catch to appear as big as possible in photos, but resist the temptation to hold fish out in front of you as far as you physically can as this looks noticeably unnatural. Keep hand and finger exposure to a minimum when holding fish also, as many good captures are hidden behind the angler’s handling technique. This is usually due to no fault of the angler however, as it’s hard to predict what it looks like from the other end, so it’s important that the photographer provides handling feedback in order to avoid hiding too the fish.

Without the use of a flash the subject is dark and much less appealing to the eye

As demonstrated here, fill flash will help the main subject stand out in a photo

Once out of the water fish are known to lose their colorations and markings quickly so they always photograph better as soon as they’re landed. Avoid the temptation to save your photos for back home with an out of the esky kill shot, as a dead/gutted fish isn’t overly photogenic. Blood also has the potential to ruin photos, so I always keep a spare rag on hand to wipe away any smears. Tuna are probably the biggest culprit of blood-ruined photos, but if you act quickly with rag and camera you can often squeeze a few happy snaps in between.

The final but most important piece of advice I can pass on for capturing better fishing pics is simply don’t limit yourself to one single photo. I’ll commonly blaze away a dozen or so shots of one particular fish, which may sound unnecessary to some, but it provides me with a bunch of photos bound to contain at least one or two good pics. You may only get one chance to capture that fish of a lifetime, and if a photo is all you have to remember it by then it makes sense to be left with a quality image to look back upon. I have essentially only scraped the surface in regards to the fishing photography world, but don’t be afraid to put some of these tips to use. You don’t need a fancy or expensive camera, just a bit of an understanding of what is required to extract the best out of your fishing shots. Enjoy!

Eliminating shadows provides a much nicer picture

Having shadows across your subject detracts from the picture

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