When I first started this website, way back in 1999, there was a young man who was doing pretty well in the world of angling media who went by the name of Matt Hayes. Despite not knowing me from Adam, this bloke did a few 'question and answer' sessions for Anglers' Net in order to help us get off the ground. Thirteen years on, Matt Hayes is practically a household name in angling and Anglers' Net is going from strength-to-strength. Thanks, Matt!
I'll never forget one of the first questions put to Matt. In fact, it was a question that often cropped up and was along the lines of, “I want a career in angling. How should I go about achieving this dream?”. The crux of Matt's reply was not to go out and learn to be a better angler, or even to take evening lessons to improve your writing skills, but to learn to take a decent photograph. Words can be edited, or even written for you in their entirety, but nobody can go back in time and take a photograph!
Sound advice, indeed.
Many years on, Matt has released Fisheye, which is possibly the only dedicated angling photography guide. I certainly haven't seen one in the UK before, which is a bit odd when you consider that millions of us go fishing and most of us fish for memories, not food (and even those of us who eat our catch often photograph it!). It has to be said that photography has become as important a part of the fishing experience for many as other obvious elements, such as watercraft and rig-making.
When Fisheye was first launched, I added a press release to Anglers' Net and made mention of it on Facebook. I was quite interested to see a comment by angling photographer Henry Gilbey, saying that he was curious to see what a book on angling photography would be like. Some may have read that comment and thought that Henry was getting ready to be a bit cynical, but those who know him probably realised that he meant it literally; he was genuinely looking forward to reading it. I don't know Henry that well at all, having just read a few of his Facebook posts over time and exchanged a short bit of banter with him, but he gives the impression of being a pretty fair and honest guy. I was very pleased when I read his blog post/review, therefore, the title of which should tell you enough; “You have got to see this fishing book”. You can read his full review here:
Angling celebrities are occasionally criticised for being a bit 'elitist', but Fisheye does not tell you to go out and spend £2,000 on photography equipment. It does not tell you that you need to hop on a plane and fly to somewhere with sunshine and monster fish to get a good photograph. What Matt Hayes has done with Fisheye is create a book that instructs the reader how to think about the photograph, not just how to take it. There is no doubt that having thousands of pounds worth of equipment can help most people, but it is still possible to take a dreadful photo with all the gear and no idea. A good photographer makes the most of the tools at his or her disposal, the emphasis being being in the right place at the right time and having an 'eye' for the photograph he or she wants to achieve. As anglers, nearly all of us get to see some stunning sights, but not all of us get to record them as well as we'd like. Matt Hayes has set out to rectify that. If we all followed his advice, the old cliché of “the photograph doesn't do it justice” would become obsolete!
To give you an idea of what's contained in Fisheye, perhaps the best thing to do would be to share the chapter headings with you:
ANGLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY
TAKING GOOD TROPHY SHOTS
THE KEYS TO CREATIVE ANGLING PHOTOGRAPHY
LIGHT AND ANGLING PHOTOGRAPHY
FRAMING, COMPOSITION AND DEPTH OF FIELD
MACRO, CANDID, WILD AND STILL-LIFE, ABSTRACT
ANGLING PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE LIMITS
NIGHT AND LOW LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY IN ANGLING
SOFTWARE, FILE FORMATS AND HDR
Each chapter is backed-up by beautiful photographic examples of what Matt is talking about. He certainly 'walks the walk' and I imagine most of us would be content spending a lifetime just looking through his library of fishing photographs.
The writing is easy to understand and, as an angler of many years experience, Matt Hayes knows a thing or two about the problems we encounter as anglers and what we are hoping to achieve. There can't be many higher qualified people to put together such a book.
If you want to take better photographs when you're out fishing, read this book. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a copy! Okay, maybe stop short of stealing a copy, but you know what I mean...
Fisheye is available from Calm Productions. Priced at £29.99, it is worth every single penny and I'm certain that it will be treasured by many anglers the world over. CLICK HERE for ordering information.
Elton Murphy, July 2012