Photographing Your Hunting And Fishing Trophies by J.A. Long
Today in our country there are a number of large organizations that are opposed to any harvest, or hunting of wildlife. These groups utilize the compassion our population has for animals in general and their goal is to create distaste for the consumptive sports such as hunting, trapping and fishing.
To achieve this response, shock is used to promote their message that these activities are cruel and should be eliminated. Pictures that portray death, dying or distressed animals are used to create a tremendous emotional response in the viewer and it doesn’t take many graphic illustrations to make their points seem valid.
Those of us, who want to see our outdoor heritage continue, should make sure the photos we take are done tastefully.
Today most large outdoor publications already follow this trend of clean and well-taken photos. Hunting and fishing are activities that are still enjoyed by a large portion of our population. Participation in these sports generally results in the harvest of animals or fish and we all have the desire to record our successful outings.
Most of us are not professional photographers, and here in lies the problem. We do not to ‘see’ the entire subject, focusing only on the fact we have a prize, which we want to be able to show our friends and family.
Now, think of the pictures of deer, elk and most other animals that you have seen, either on websites, in tackle shops, sporting good stores or in a friend’s hand. In way too many cases the photos of these animals have that painfully dead look, poorly composed, with open, bloody mouths, tongues protruding and generally full of blood and gore. Not exactly what one would call quality, family viewing.
Big game is not the only problem area. We also have the fish pictures. Bloody fish being held up either on a string or through the gills. If it was a really successful day, lots of dead, bloody, hanging, fish. Are these really the type of pictures you want to have seen?
When our own photos are being taken, we have opted for quality rather than quantity. One nice fish that is positioned in an attractive manner, with no obvious blood, turns a ‘dead fish’ into a photo of a trophy.This is a picture that could be framed and placed anywhere.
If these pictures were well done you would be unable to tell if the fish ended up in the fry pan or was released unharmed. The planned photo is a far cry from that picture that has no place to go but in a box, with the other ‘dead animal’ snap shots.
In the business of outfitted fishing we are starting to see more wonderful, well-done photographs. I do hope this trend continues. In my opinion the time is past when these large catches of fish should be displayed. Outfitters should be demonstrating concern for and care of our resources. The old ‘bragging rights,’ type of photograph’s conflict with the image professional outdoors people should be promoting in today’s sensitive world.
If you are taking photos of fish that are to be released, have your equipment readily available and the shots preplanned. If you follow these rules the fish will only be out of the water for a few seconds while your picture is being taken.
Care should be used when handling these fish, and hands should be wet before touching them.
Ideally, grip the tail and cradle the body behind the gills. Keep your fingers away from the gill plates, as it is easy to damage the delicate gill tissue. Do not hang a heavy fish from his lower lip, as this also can cause injury. Keep the fish out of the water no longer than is necessary to snap a quick shot or two.
Do not drop the fish and when you do release it make sure it is revived sufficiently enough to swim properly.
I would also recommend that if this animal is overly stressed or possibly injured do not remove it from the water. There will be more opportunities for pictures.
In some cases it is illegal to remove specific species from the water – so know the law. With a little preplanning and thought you can take that great shot and the fish will swim free without damage.
Whether your photo is of game or fish they should be treated no differently. Pose these animals in a respectful manner, making sure they are clean and presentable.
These actions will take only a few moments but your picture will be something far more aesthetically pleasing. Please remember these tips when you are recording your successful hunts and fishing trips.
I want my children and grandchildren to have the outdoor opportunities that we take for granted. If taking a couple of minutes to make sure my pictures are not generally offensive and will prevent their possible use against the lifestyle I enjoy, it is time well spent.
Another fantastic benefit from those few moments is the great pictures of the trophies that hang on my wall for all to see.