April 12, 2021 5 min read

How To Take Better Photos On The River

Nowadays everyone is online. Whether it's just to connect socially with others in your global community or perhaps you're marketing your business.  Either way, it does require you to be able to create eye catching and interesting imagery.

As a photographer, I know my way around my camera and I thought I'd create a handy dandy guide to help you the next time you set out to take photos.

Tip #1: Use the camera you have available 

I always joke that when I leave for the river with just my cell phone for a camera that I'm going to catch the biggest fish... and sometimes it happens. Obviously if you've brought your DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) out on the water, use that. However, most anglers are typically using their cell phone to capture their day and that's totally fine. Cell phone photos are great for most social media feeds and there are a lot of amazing apps that you can download to help you stand out. The only issue with cell phone photos is that they are not as high quality as an image taken with a DSLR camera; meaning you won't be able to blow those photos up for nice prints, edit them as finely or sell them to your favourite fishy magazine. 

My favourite apps for cell phone photography are Adobe Photoshop Express, Slow Shutter Fast Cam, and Motionleap.

After consulting my followers on Instagram their favourites are Lightroom, Snapseed, and Easy Retouch.

An image I captured with the only camera I had on me at the time, my phone.

Tip #2: Practice, Practice, Practice!

I know a lot of people who have bought a DSLR camera with grand aspirations on using it and now it's either collecting dust at the back of a closet somewhere or it's always in auto mode. If you can learn how to use your camera in manual mode you will begin to capture images that look much more professional. If you practice enough you'll be able to adjust for the lighting or for the camera effect that you're looking to create much quicker and without having to think about it. I promise it gets easier, with practice. Soon you'll be able to add that wow factor into your photos with long exposures, sunburst lights, blurry backgrounds or intensely crisp action shots. So dig out that camera and start playing around with it!


An image I shot in my first year as a photographer, using a long exposure, tripod and filter.

Tip #3: Taking photos of yourself

It can be tricky taking photos of yourself when you're fishing because once you have a fish on your line  your focus goes to bringing it in and handling it carefully. However, with some beforehand preparations you can still take those fishy photos solo!

Step 1: Set up a tripod in a spot that is flat and safe for your camera (meaning if a gust of wind knocks it down it won't go for a swim, it'll simply end up on your jacket or pack instead). Also make sure to invest in a good tripod, the cheap ones are easily knocked off balance. I use a Manfroto tripod and it is extremely stable; be sure to read reviews before selecting yours! 

Step 2: Adjust your focus manually to a specific spot on the bank right where it meets the water, then mark it with a rock or log. Once you have your fish, you'll move to this spot for your photo.

Step 3: Set up a 10 second shutter delay in your camera and grab your shutter release remote. Stick it somewhere safe in your photo spot or in an easy access pocket (shutter releases are such a great tool to have and are definitely worth the investment).

Step 4: Net your fish and keep it submerged until you are ready for a quick photo in your predetermined spot. Remember, you want to have everything set up so that there is limited stress in handling your fish. Your top goal is to make sure it is safe and will swim away easily after your encounter. 

Step 5: Grab your remote and set it off. You now have 10 seconds to lift the fish carefully out of your net and smile for the camera. Once the camera clicks you can quickly release your fish. Or if you ended up capturing the perfect fish flop shot instead you can let them breathe in the net and go for round two!

A photo of myself fishing in my home of Jasper, Alberta.

Tip #4: Tell a story

Many of the fishing photos that people see are simply of anglers holding a fish. If you want to stand out in the thousands of photos online, try and connect with your audience by telling a story with your photos. Try and incorporate the camp, the drive, the fishermen and the landscape as well. Instagram has carousel photo upload options so you can post more than a standard grip and grin shot. I find that when I take the time to write out the story behind the image, what was going on when I took the photo, I get more comments from people online. It makes sense though! People are interested in your story, it's time to start telling it! Another thing to keep in mind, especially where Instagram is concerned, is the algorithm. The longer you can keep someone at your post and interacting with it, the more likely IG will show your post to others because it's clearly interesting and engaging. 

A photo of a couple taking a moment to enjoy the sunset on the river before heading back to camp.

Tip #5: Focus on a new perspective

Another way to get interesting photos is to find a new way of looking at a subject. Perhaps finding a new angle to shoot from (sometimes that's as simple as getting really low for a shot), using natural leading lines to your subject or framing the scene in a unique way. If you have a drone, use it for spectacular shots from above (if it's legal and safe to do so). Whatever it is, try and think outside the box for something slightly different than a straight on shot of a fish. Get creative out there! 

Using the trees to frame my subject while drawing your eye into the middle of the photo.

I hope these tips have inspired you to get more creative with your photos! If you want to see more of my work you can find me on IG @mposein or through @freestoneflyco . As always, have fun out there and I'll catch you next time!


Megan Posein

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