Engbretson Underwater Photography

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News From Behind the Scenes at Engbretson Underwater Photo and Stories about the Freshwater Environments We Visit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Making Fish Look Their Very Best


I once read an article about how fashion photographers for Vogue and Cosmo never shoot a super-model from below unless she has a terrific jaw-line.  It occurred to me that fish, with their gills, all have great jaw-lines, so I began getting below eye-level and photographing them from below.  The results were so breathtakingly stunning that I began to try to compose every fish picture this way.  Over time, it's become a distinct hallmark of my work.  I'm convinced that it's the best angle to photograph fish underwater.

I think it's incumbent on all wildlife photographers to portray their subjects with as much style and beauty as possible.  This is easy to do with cuddly puppies and furry baby seals, but with reptiles, amphibians and even fish, we often have to work hard to convey their inherent beauty to our audience. People will always care more about pretty things than ugly ones. That's just human nature. 

As a fish photographer, I feel a responsibility to my subjects to try to portray their magnificence in every picture I make. Because of this, I usually won't shoot fish with split fins, scars, injuries or other physical deficiencies. Instead, I look for fish that are healthy and vibrant. I want the best ambassadors of each species to represent the entire population. If I want viewers to care about fish the way I do, I have to make it as easy as possible for them to appreciate and embrace these finned marvels.

2021 will be the start of my 28th year of photographing native North American freshwater fish underwater in their natural habitat. I can't wait to get back in the water with my super-models!