Right Place, Right Time…

 

A blacktip shark swims among a school of spawning bonefish near Abaco Island, Bahamas

Yowza! First post in nearly two years…it’s about time (literally).

Towards the end of 2017, I traveled to Abaco Island, Bahamas to shoot some saltwater fly fishing imagery. I’d been there numerous times before…so much so, that it almost felt like home stepping onto the tarmac and inhaling that salty breeze that seems to instantly rid oneself of any and all worries.

The trip, as so many others prior was a great success. Wonderful people, fantastic food and, most importantly, numerous opportunities to shoot new work. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword visiting a place so familiar. On the one hand, you have a clear vision of what to expect. On the other, however, you know it will be a challenge to capture work you find to be engaging, complimentary to and different than that which already exists in your portfolio.

On the second day of the shoot, we were walking back from a LONG day of shooting. We’d walked several miles through marshy wetlands and across the flats, and I was, by and large quite spent. Suddenly, we heard what sounded like thunder down the shoreline. As large monsoon clouds would frequently whip up in the afternoon heat, we almost dismissed it as such…until we saw a wall of water being flung into the air. What we saw next literally had our jaws left wide open…

We watched as a literal river of spawning bonefish made its way along the shoreline straight towards us, moving with such velocity as to create their own wave train as far as the eye could see. At first we grabbed our rods (what right-side up angler wouldn’t???) and cast into the mass of moving silver scales. After a couple quick hook-ups, however, we simply stood in amazement and did our best to internalize this magnificent moment. I frantically flew my drone skyward, knowing the only way to truly capture the scale and magnitude of this happening would be from the air.

Sure enough, I came away with one of the more unique images I’ve ever captured–one that has resonated with anglers and photo enthusiasts alike the world over. This one image has earned me more return than perhaps any other single image in my archive. It has already been featured as the cover of the Orvis summer catalog and I’ve had many print orders and email inquiries on the image since.

Orvis Fishing Catalog Summer 2018, cover photo by Adam Barker

What’s that saying about right place, right time??? It is 100% true. All of it. Be there. Be ready. No matter how tired or spent you are, be ready when those moments present themselves…

An Accessory to Life

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It likely comes as no earth-shattering revelation that I love my job (SURPRISE!!!). Tough to complain about waking up each and every day and making a living as a photographer. It’s not even close to all punch and cookies, but at this point, I can’t imaging doing anything else as a provider for my family and a seeker of everyday contentment. There are a lot of sexy things about being a photographer–traveling the globe, witnessing (and capturing) moments of grandeur and exceptional athletic prowess, searching for (and finding) natural beauty in the oddest places, getting to say “I’m a photographer” (wait–EVERYONE says that–doh), and so many more things that make being a photographer extra “cool” and especially “hip” if you’re one of those super hipster mc-hip-town photographers. But when I distill it all down to the most basic of terms, I think the thing I love very most about being a photographer is the simple fact that, if I’m very careful, and if I let myself go just enough, it allows me to be an accessory to life. Life unadulterated. Life unaltered. Life undirected.
This is an image of my son Blake…being Blake…at the beach. I was there, running alongside him, camera in hand. I was laughing with him–I could reach out and grab his hand and feel the joy, yet somehow, the camera was invisible…and we, together, captured this memory for all of time. That is, without question, the greatest thing about what I do. There have been many milestones for me personally in my short career, but the realization that I can be an accessory to life with my camera in hand is perhaps my greatest achievement yet…

The Tug is the Drug

Angler Oliver White flyfishing for sharks on South Andros Island, Bahamas.

Angler Oliver White flyfishing for sharks on South Andros Island, Bahamas.

“The tug is the drug”.

This is a common saying amongst flyfishers, and one that rings true if you’ve ever had a good bend in the rod. Here, pro angler Oliver White sets the hook like a champ against a 6-ft lemon shark in the waters of South Andros, Bahamas.

Sometimes, when capturing a sport or activity, we forget that it’s often the more intimate moments that really hit home with viewers. It may not be the prettiest or most impressive scene, but it is something that demonstrates your understanding of what really means something to the audience with which you are trying to connect.

Despite the exclusion of the bigger picture, sometimes these intimate pieces engage the viewer much more immediately and require them to explore what is actually occurring. Once discovered, there’s a sub-conscious recognition, and immediate connection.

Strive to diversify the way you capture whatever it is that you capture. Challenge yourself to tell the story in a different way. Step out of that comfortable box and try exploring a different part of the scene. It may feel a bit funny at first, but I promise you will grow as a photographer because of it!

Environmental Lifestyle Imagery: Don’t be Average

Angler Geoff Mueller casts to cruising bonefish at Bair's Lodge, South Andros, Bahamas.

What is an environmental lifestyle image? Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? It’s an image that gives as much (if not more) attention to the environment, as it does to the activity taking place. It’s the perfect marriage between location

and recreation. It’s the type of image so many of us fall in love with because it highlights both an action or activity as well as a beautiful place. It’s an image that is both beautiful from a straight photographic standpoint, and one that connects with many viewers on a more personal level depending on their experience with the activity actually taking place in the image.

For me, it’s like having my cake and eating it too. I discovered my passion for photography in scenic landscape work. I have also been an avid participant in many recreational pursuits since a young age. It’s a combo that takes me to many beautiful locations, while watching and/or participating in the things I love to do.

This image embodies everything I love about fly fishing on the ocean. Clean, open air. Limitless space. Uninhibited motion. Surreal landscape. Endless skies. Soft, barefoot sand. Whether approaching it with a camera, or a rod in hand, it is an absolute dream.

This image was captured about 15 min before sunset. Having that sun low on the horizon emphasized the repetitive texture in this spit of sand. The location was perfect here. The activity was spot on. But the light it what brought this image to life. Without light, this image is an average shot of a dude casting to bonefish on a pleasant spit of sand in the middle of the Bahamas. And we all know that average is just as close to the bottom as it is to the top.

Don’t be average.