Flyfishing Imagery: Best of 2010

Just wrapped up a quick slideshow sharing some of my favorite fly fishing images from 2010. Hope you enjoy!

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift?

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If he’s a flyfisher, I sure think so!

It’s not too late to order one and get it in your hands for Father’s Day. I have four left in my current inventory. Three 5 x 7 prints are double matted and framed in an elegant dark wood molding, making for an intimate gift for the fly fishing dad in your life. Pricing is $265.00. I’m willing to give the next two orders 10% off, saving an additional $20.00. Please send an email to adam(at)adambarkerphotography.com to order.

Five Tips for Better Underwater Photography

Brown Trout caught and released on fly in northern Utah.

Brown Trout caught and released on fly in northern Utah.

Underwater photography is so fun you could charge me for it and I’d still be all over it. Come to think of it, I have been charged for it, and it’s not cheap…

Regardless–the unpredictable nature of underwater images makes for interesting times both shooting and editing. This is a shot of a hungry brown trout on a nice creek in northern Utah. Even with my limited experience, I have found a couple of things to be helpful in my underwater endeavors. Should you ever take the plunge yourself, hopefully these will be helpful.

1.Fill the frame with your subject. This means that, especially when shooting fish with a wide angle lens on a full frame camera, you need to be super close. That fish should be nearly touching your dome port.

2. Keep your lens’ minimum focusing distance in mind. It is possible to be too close and not be able to focus. If you’re having issues with this (or even if you’re not), I recommend getting a diopter to screw onto the front of your lens. This will lessen your minimum focusing distance and also assist in getting sharper images edge to edge.

3. Shoot lots of images. It’s an entirely different world down there, and just as you have had to shoot a lot of images to get comfortable above water–you’ll have to do the same below water.

4. Shoot at mid-day. This is entirely counter-intuitive for most photographers. The fact is, it’s much darker underwater then it is above water. The more direct light you have illuminating your underwater world, the better.

5. Have fun, and enjoy the happy accidents. It’s all so cool, you’ll be finding frames that you didn’t expect to turn out that you fall in love with.

Shot with a Canon 5D MkII, Aquatech housing, 16-35 2.8II

Belize!!! (part 1)

Ever since I can recall actually discovering (via magazine/movies) the world of saltwater fly fishing, I have harbored the dream of experiencing it for myself one day. In short, it lives up to the hype–and then some.

Patagonia fly fishing ambassador Mikey Weir tossed it into the blue on Rendezvous Reef, Belize

Patagonia fly fishing ambassador Mikey Wier tosses it into the blue on Rendezvous Reef, Belize

Just as Alaska is to freeskiing, Augusta is to golf or Monaco is to racing, so too, is Belize to saltwater fly fishing. Crystal clear water, mile-long flats and significant numbers of varying species of big game fish nearly guarantee an epic experience when plying this country’s Caribbean waters. Belize is a mecca for anglers seeking tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook and a host of other species of fish.

Angler Jamie Connolly takes a break from the action at Robinson Point, Belize.

Angler Jamie Connolly takes a break from the action at Robinson Point, Belize.

I was fortunate to be spending my first Belize experience aboard a 58′ boat called the Rising Tide. Being on a boat gave me prime, immediate access to the water at the best times of day to be shooting, which are always very early and much later than most plan for. Were we staying on land, it would have required much earlier/later departures and just wouldn’t have been possible. Many thanks to Don Muelrath and Mike Copithorne of Off the Hook Fly Fishing for their assistance in setting up the trip.

MIkey Weir cradles a Robinson Point Permit after a worthy battle.

MIkey Wier cradles a Robinson Point Permit after a worthy battle.

When all was said and done, I shot well over 5,000 images and even managed to catch my first ever permit. Awesome! Also key to this trip was my underwater housing from Aquatech. It’s a whole new world below the surface, and I was so pleased to be able to capture these fish in their native element. Also, many thanks to Patagonia, Simms, Winston Rods and Lamson Reels for helping out on the product side of things.

Lunch. Robinson Point, Belize

Lunch. Robinson Point, Belize

Belize Bonefish and Lamson Vanquish Reel

Belize Bonefish and Lamson Vanquish Reel

Angler Ryan Hawkes and Capt. Dean Meyers flee an oncoming cold front near Long Caye, Belize.

Angler Ryan Hawkes and Capt. Dean Meyers flee an oncoming cold front near Long Caye, Belize.

Belizian Bonefish, resting up after a worthy fight.

Belizian Bonefish, resting up after a worthy fight.

Guide Nato and Mikey Weir make good use of waning daylight. Robinson Point, Belize

Guide Nato and Mikey Weir make good use of waning daylight. Robinson Point, Belize

Anatomy of a Commercial Lifestyle Shoot: Loon Outdoors

Ever wonder what’s involved in a smaller scale commercial lifestyle shoot? Have a read.

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

This past week I was fortunate to work with Loon Outdoors, a company committed to providing environmentally friendly fly fishing products to anglers. We had arranged for a one-day shoot up in Sun Valley, ID. In the days leading up to the shoot, I’d been checking the weather incessantly, hoping for something other than the obvious–rain and cold and general nastiness on the day of (and only the day of) the shoot. Murphy’s law was definitely proving itself on this one. After a bit of dicussion with company president Alan Peterson, we decided to go ahead with the scheduled shoot.

Alan Peterson and Jay Burke looking for lunkers above the Big Wood River in Sun Valley, Idaho

Alan Peterson and Jay Burke looking for lunkers above the Big Wood River in Sun Valley, Idaho

The truth of the matter is this: some weather is fantastic for photography, and fly fishing photography in particular. It provides for interesting shooting conditions and unique atmospheric opportunities. Too much weather, however, can be a literal game ender.

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

My alarm clock went off on the morning of the shoot and without even looking out the window I knew I would be encountering some unique weather-related challenges throughout the day. I could hear the rain drops on the windows. Not so good. I parted the curtains and was surprised to see 2″ of snow had fallen overnight. Wow. Cool! Snow would provide for something a bit different. Throughout the day on the Big Wood River, we had steady rain moving in and out, providing for alternately inspiring conditions and  an utterly miserable, wet hell for a photographer. By late afternoon, the skies had dropped the majority of their bounty and we decided to head south to Silver Creek for what turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous evening of dramatic skies and golden light. We returned to the cars under waning dusk light low on energy and high on life. I was spent, but the client was grinning and the mission was accomplished.

A fisherman strips line out on the Big Wood River, Idaho

A fisherman strips line out on the Big Wood River, Idaho

I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on this shoot with its associated expectations placed upon the photographer. There was a bit of extra pressure considering we were allotted just one day to capture a wide range of images. These are certainly challenging times for many photographers and business owners alike. There still remains, however, a noticeable gap between the true professional and eager amateur. A true professional will always deliver, regardless of conditions or obstacles placed in his path. He/She relies on past experience and draws from his technical skill and creative vision to create something out of nothing (when nothing is presented) and to capture the magic in a quick and proficient manner when Mother Nature decides to lend a hand.

To see more of the images from this shoot, check out the online gallery. Special thanks to Simms, William Joseph and Clikelite backpacks for helping to make this a productive shoot.

A trio of fishermen pose for the camera after an evening on SIlver Creek, Idaho

A trio of fishermen pose for the camera after an evening on SIlver Creek, Idaho

Upgrade your Creativity

With the announcement of the new Canon EOS 7D, I’ve been thinking a bunch about how quickly technology is advancing these days. If you look at what we were shooting digital images with just 5 years ago, the advancements are mind blowing. It would appear, that it’s becoming easier to shoot “good” images and becoming increasingly harder to stand out as a photographer and create imagery that one remembers. In this world of visual distractions (and attractions), only the technically sound and (perhaps more importantly) the creatively innovative will be able to produce imagery that will stand the test of time.

Fall color, perfect for photography in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Fall color, perfect for photography in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Here’s a frightening statistc: Online photo sharing site Flickr hosts more than 3.5 billion images. An average of 3 million images are uploaded daily. You read that right. 3 million images are uploaded EVERY DAY. How, in the name of Ansel, are you going to produce something that stands out?

A hiker gazes in wonder at a tree growing through red rock canyons on Wallstreet, Bryce Canyon National Park

A hiker gazes in wonder at a tree growing through red rock canyons on Wallstreet, Bryce Canyon National Park

Here is some food for thought. Instead of upgrading your camera, lens, computer, memory card, huge 30″ monitor, new zoom lens, tripod, filters, cable release, operating system, editing software, backpack, lens cap, camera belt, lens cleaning solution, dust remover or any other piece of the endless list of equipment we all use, try this: UPGRADE YOUR CREATIVITY. Manufacturers produce new cameras nearly every quarter these days, but how often do we upgrade our ability not just to create, but to see better imagery.

Morning storm clouds and mist over the Wasatch Mountains, east of Salt Lake City, UT

Morning storm clouds over the Wasatch Mountains, east of Salt Lake City, UT

Read a good book. Follow an inspiring blog. Give yourself a challenging assignment. Fail. Succeed. And then do it all over again. And here’s the important part–do it with your own style and panache.

Trail running in late evening light through the foothills above Salt Lake City, UT

Trail running in late evening light through the foothills above Salt Lake City, UT

Here’s another idea: Build your own better version of you. How long have you been running on Joe v1.1 or Sarah v1.2. It’s time to upgrade to version 1.5, or better yet, give yourself an entire system upgrade and find Bill v2.0. Sleeker, faster, smoother, more efficient, and a creative animal beyond compare. Hey! I’d buy it!

A few stout sprigs of Indian Paintbrush stand resolutely beneath towering aspen trees in Big Cotonwood Canyon, UT

A few stout sprigs of Indian Paintbrush stand resolutely beneath towering aspen trees in Big Cotonwood Canyon, UT

The longer I am in the business of photography, the harder it gets to challenge myself to be a better version of me. Resist the temptation to become a better Chase Jarvis or Art Wolfe or even (gasp) Adam Barker. Much like looking at a road map, the work of established photographers doesn’t speak so much to the destination as it does to the journey. There are a million ways to arrive at the pinnacle, why follow a path already trodden?

A bent rod and tight line on the Weber River, UT

A bent rod and tight line on the Weber River, UT

The Difference is in the Details

This is so cliche, yet so applicable. I trust you’ve noticed the new blog and new website. Take a moment to delve into the details on the new site–we’re proud of it!

Kevin Wright examines the morning's hatch activity on the Duchesne River, UT

Kevin Wright examines the morning's hatch activity on the Duchesne River, UT


Right now in Utah the fishing is better than good. Hatches of big, nasty dry flies are prolific, and I find it hard to leave the water these days. Glancing through my fly fishing portfolio the other day, I noticed a distinct lack of intimate shots. I have plenty of “big picture/knock your socks off with a crazy cool expansive vista” shots, but I was really lacking in the more soulful, up close and personal images. In particular, I saw hardly any fish shots at all. In general, I get a little turned off to fish shots, just because it seems there are so many out there and it’s a bit harder for me to capture something unique.

Who wants a piece? A head on view of a healthy brown trout caught and released on the Duchesne River, UT

Who wants a piece? A head on view of a healthy brown trout caught and released on the Duchesne River, UT

A brown trout is brought to the net on the Duchesne River, UT

A brown trout is brought to the net on the Duchesne River, UT

Regardless, I set my mind to capture something different for me the other day on a stretch of private water with a friend. I was destined and determined to shoot intimate details. Why? Well, partly because I just need them in my portfolio. But really, much of the time, these intimate images are the ones that speak most deeply to those enthralled with the activity or experience being shot. I love fly fishing for the moment I have cradling the fish in my hand after a hefty fight. I love to coax the fish back to an adequate energy level, and I love feeling him swim away under his own power. I love the color in the fins and the gill plate. I even love scratching my knuckles on their teeth when removing my fly–never hurt us to feel a little pain as well just to keep things real.

A healthy brown trout caught and released on the Duchesne River, UT

A healthy brown trout caught and released on the Duchesne River, UT

And so, my challenge to you as you pick up your camera this week to capture something close to your heart is this: forget what you’ve seen, heard and witnessed from other people. Have a sit down with yourself about why you love what you love, and then do your best to convey that in your imagery. It’s no thoughtless, easy task. But when you nail it, it’s mighty satisfying. Happy shooting.

Brown trout fin in golden light.

Brown trout fin in golden light.

Brown trout fin and scales.

Brown trout fin and scales.

Visual Storytelling

It’s good to be back in Utah after a five-day fishing road trip through Idaho and Montana. It was an adventure for sure–weather was gnarly at times and fishing was challenging. Weather, however, always makes for interesting photos. While I wasn’t on assignment for this trip, I often take advantage of work/play vacations and treat them as if I were shooting a story for a publication. Practice, after all, makes perfect.

If you’re interested in being an editorial photographer, start looking for opportunities to work on your visual storytelling. With a background in fine art scenic imagery, it took me a while to look for the smaller, mundane photos that carry weight and meaning. I had trained myself to find that one iconic image that people would want hung on their wall large and in charge. Telling the whole story requires commitment and dedication on the part of the photographer. Many times, the grittiest moments carry the most impact in telling a story. Sometimes the most mundane or boring images tell a big part of the story, and it is the photographer’s job to make that image visually engaging. Regardless, you must have your camera close at hand and your head in the game at all times. Challenge yourself this week to tell a story through your imagery–you’ll be surprised how much you grow as a photographer.

Below is the story in images from this past week. Hope you enjoy!

Nick Granato enjoys the view from his drift boat along the South Fork of the Snake River

Nick Granato enjoys the view from his drift boat along the South Fork of the Snake River

Rainbow trout from the South Fork with a bit of leftover hardware...

Rainbow trout from the South Fork with a bit of leftover hardware...

Fishermen hanging out in the drift boat on the South Fork of the Snake River

Fishermen hanging out in the drift boat on the South Fork of the Snake River

On the road.

On the road.

Nick Granato preps for a day of fishing at sunrise on some water in Montana

Nick Granato preps for a day of fishing at sunrise on water in Montana

Matt Warner dips a line in paradise. AKA Montana.

Matt Warner dips a line in paradise. AKA Montana.

Early light and fog spotlights cabins near West Yellowstone, MT

Early light and fog spotlights cabins near West Yellowstone, MT

Fishermen wait for the take on Montana water.

Fishermen wait for the take on Montana water.

A fine stretch of Montana water, captured with Singh Ray's Gold N Blue Polarizer

A fine stretch of Montana water, captured with Singh Ray's Gold N Blue Polarizer

Sunrise along the Beaverhead River

Sunrise along the Beaverhead River

Viva El Tacobus! Dillon, MT

Viva El Tacobus! Dillon, MT

Exiting the revered Tacobus with full stomachs in Dillon, MT

Exiting the revered Tacobus with full stomachs in Dillon, MT

Matt Warner and Nick Granato enjoy some time in the drift boat on the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner and Nick Granato enjoy some time in the drift boat on the Big Hole River, MT

Brook Trout caught on the Big Hole River, MT

Brook Trout caught on the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner tries his hand at some wood cutting along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner tries his hand at some wood cutting along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner replenishes the streamer selection along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner replenishes the streamer selection along the Big Hole River, MT

A hefty brown trout caught by yours truly in the Big Hole River, MT

A hefty brown trout caught by yours truly on the Big Hole River, MT

Fishermen relax on a bench with beer in hand after a lengthy float on the Big Hole River, MT

Fishermen relax on a bench with beer in hand after a lengthy float on the Big Hole River, MT

Passion: What separates the meaningful from the mundane

“You’re not hiring me for my shutter finger–everyone can push a button. You’re hiring me for my creative vision and my ability to convey a particular message about the (blank) experience through unforgettable imagery.”

This is an excerpt from a recent email to a potential client of mine. And really, although the word “passion” isn’t even mentioned, I think it sums up nicely what separates an exceptional photographer from many of the good photographers out there. Regardless of your technical prowess, your lens collection or your abundant knowledge of a certain location or activity–without passion for the medium of photography and the action of capturing timeless moments forever, you will fail at connecting with people as they view your work. It’s as simple as that.

Matt Warner revels in a fisherman's paradise on the Middle Provo River, UT

Matt Warner revels in a fisherman's paradise on the Middle Provo River, UT

Sure you could probably shoot skiing if you don’t ski, but would you really capture the subtle nuance of an epic powder turn? Or would you simply be documenting it…

Brant Moles. Happy. Alta, UT

Brant Moles. Happy. Alta, UT

Sure you could probably shoot fly fishing if you don’t fish, but would you really capture the connection between man and water? Or would you simply be going through the motions…

Bryan Gregson casts in early morning light on Currant Creek, UT

Bryan Gregson casts in early morning light on Currant Creek, UT

Sure you could probably shoot scenic imagery without a personal connection to the landscape, but would you really personify Mother Nature in your imagery? Or would you simply be tracing an emotionless empty stencil onto a digital sensor…

Evening skies light up over Utah's Middle Provo River

Evening skies light up over Utah's Middle Provo River

We are not just photographers. We are interpreters.