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Bankside Photography Made Easy

Bankside photography made easy

Having landed that monster fish there’s nothing worse after all that time and effort you’ve put in to chasing your chosen quarry to then have the only record of that special moment or monumental catch in the form of a poor quality photo, whether that be with your head cut off, parts of the fish missed out, over exposed, out of focus, cluttered back ground or photobombed ! I’m sure you’ve seen them all! However spend a little time and effort planning and prepping prior to pressing that shutter button and you’ll soon be snapping like a pro and be the envy of all your friends when they see the “one that didn’t get away”hung on your wall or on the front of that glossy magazine.

Here are a few simple steps that help me achieve high quality images of my captures .

Looking after your fish

Never ever sacrifice the welfare of the fish for a photo. Fish safety is paramount and if the fish is showing any signs of distress return it immediately.

Planning and preparation

With the hard part done and that monster fish secured in the bottom of the landing net, don’t leave it until the last minute or until you haul it up onto the hooking mat before you start getting your photography equipment ready.

As we we already mentioned fish welfare comes first and our aim is to minimise the time it spends out of the water.

Get your unhooking mat in position, your scales poised and ready along with a set of forceps and fish care product should they be required along with any subsequent weigh slings and most importantly a large bucket of fresh lake water especially during the summer months when that sun is beating down.

One thing to note here is to never place a fish on a dry or hot mat and the bucket of water should always be straight from the lake, not one that’s been sat in the mid day sun and is now lacking in oxygen and reminiscent of warm bath water!

Framing your shot and test shooting

With your unhooking mat in place this can even be done prior to capture but most definitely and certainly before getting your fish out of the water,
make sure that you have a background that compliments your catch, not one that is cluttered with tackle, rubbish or other obstructions , so place you mat where your not going to have tree branches growing out of you ears of a spod rod cutting through the whole shot looking like you’ve been skewered like a kebab!

If your going to be photographing the fish yourself using a self take facility, make sure position your self at that same level or nearest to the fish, and have the camera set preferably at the same level, not looking down or from below as this can lead to distortion and affect perspective.

If others are going to be pressing that shutter button this is something they need to be aware of…

Dependent on what type of shot you are trying to achieve I like to get in close and fill the frame, however others like to leave wider borders or margins which can then we edited or cropped at a later stage. Alot of it will be down to personal preference but for me there’s no point having a tiny subject matter lost in a landscape of trees and grasses!

Nearly ready – I like to take a few test shots, get in front of that camera, check the focus and review your shots to make sure your not cutting off body parts .

When your finally ready and happy that everything is in place then you can remove the fish from the water.
Mates behind the camera

If your fortunate like me to fish with a friend or partner then more often than not the responsibility of taking a good shot ultimately falls on them .

Do not expect everyone to have the same ability behind the lense and ensure that if others are tasked with taking the shot for you that they are competent in using your camera and it’s basic functions.

Usually using a phone or compact cameras present very little problems for most people, however show them a DSLR and it’s a whole different ball game ,especially once you step out of auto mode.

Being able to trust another with a camera is a massive bonus and allows you to concentrate on the handling of the fish in front of the camera and it can make all the difference between a great shot and a case of “shoot the photographer!”

Again if someone is going to be taking the shots for you take some practice shots before you have the fish on the mat, get the focal length right and ensure they know how to work the camera.

One last thing is always check the images prior to releasing your prize, as once’s it’s gone it’s gone !

Self-take photography

For those of you that fish alone, self-take photography is the only option however getting it right can at times prove to be tricky.

In theory we follow the same plan and prep as we would if another was taking a picture for us, however now we have that extra responsibility of ensuring everything is correct both in front of the camera and behind it.

So how we do this is usually reliant on a trigger or remote which in turn activates the shutter and captures the shot.

Depending on your weapon of choice whether it be a mobile phone, compact camera or DSLR there are a number of ways we can do this.

There are a multitude of apps available on mobile phones some of the most popular will trigger the camera with a whistle or a key word.

Moving onto compact cameras and DSLR’s, some prefer an air release cable which works on the principle that an inflated balloon attachment is pressured usually by a knee or foot, forcing air along the cable which In turn subsequently activates the shutter.

Others prefer a battery operated remote which is more often than not synced with the camera in use, however this can be tricky and sometimes obtrusive in the shot. For these reasons for my self take photography I prefer to use an Intervalometer .

An intervalometer is an attachment or facility on a camera that operates the shutter regularly at set intervals over a period of time.

Some state of the art cameras have this option built in but more often than not an external or independent device is required.

For me using an intervalometer is the easiest and most versatile option, simply set you parameters, delay, interval, time and number of shots and get ready, eliminating the need to keep getting up and constantly resetting.


Mention the word lighting and photography to some and automatically they’ll assume that we are talking about the use of flash photography and although this is an important element this subject is so comprehensive and so we will just look at the basics.

When looking at the composition of the shot, be aware of where the sun is, in front or you and you may suffer lense flare or end up with a subject squinting and directly behind you, you may find the subject cast into shadow.

Aim to have the sun slightly behind you or to one side.

Using a flash is not just a tool for night time photography and can be most beneficial in order to eliminate shadow on the brightest of days and can also be an asset when capturing shots on dull days and low light or evening conditions.

There is an ever increasing array of camera lighting equipment available to the angler and therefore in my opinion making nighttime photography easier than ever, thus eliminating the need and the bad practice of some anglers retaining fish longer than necessary , sometimes hours just to get that all important shot in the morning or daylight hours.


Here we are concerned with the use of more complex camera units in particular SLRS, DSLR’s and most recently mirrorless cameras.

Simply buying a camera body is only part of modern day photography and although some are usually packaged together with a generic or multi purpose lense, it is not always possible to achieve every desired shot or aspect using just one lense.

For these reasons more often than not the modern day angler will look to carry more than one in his or her camera bag.

The buying or use of one or more lenses can prove expensive so initially my advice would be think about the shots you will be taking.

For most angling portraits shots most prefer a fixed lense of say 50mm although a pancake lense or wide angled lense of between 17-40mm are also go too option.

Choose yours carefully and remember don’t ask of your lense that which it can’t achieve.

Power up

With all this expensive camera and lighting equipment ensure you have the capability to address those power drains and invest in a power bank and keep stocked up on those spare batteries. There’s nothing worse than landing that fish of a life time only to find you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and your camera batteries are dead!


As with most things in life practice makes perfect.

Manage your time on the bank effectively, get into a routine and prepare you camera equipment as you would any other part of your angling set up.

Enjoy your photography, snap away, as in most cases we are not reliant of replacing expensive films . If we don’t like it, simply erase and start over.

In time things will become second nature and before you know it you will be shooting like a pro!