WTA’s TAGS Manager, Eric Pawlak, passed along some insights on why you need to take a camera with you to the field and how you can ensure you don’t lose those photos later. Preserving your trophy with a quality photograph is so very important. A good snapshot is often better than a taxidermy display in many ways. A good picture, or series of pictures, can encapsulate the exact moment in time that can never be revisited other than through those photographs. Tell me you are not more entertained than going back through your old photos and seeing how you’ve changed, seeing how your kids have changed and bringing back to memory the exact location of the hunt and then playing in reverse everything that occurred before you pulled the trigger.
1. Photograph all your Memories
I encourage all of you to take pictures while afield, and it doesn’t always have to be a trophy shot either. Snap a photo of the truck you were driving at the time, of your child lacing up his boots, of your lab in full retrieve. There are so many memorable things happening during each and every hunt. In twenty or thirty years, memories fade and bringing along a good camera can keep those memories alive for your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s grandchildren, long after you’re gone.
2. Preserving the Memories
Just recently a dear friend of mine, Billy Katsigannius, lost his father. Billy’s dad was a huge outdoorsman and the two of them hunted and fished all over the world together capturing much of it on video, and in the early days, still camera. Recently Billy decided to pay tribute to his father and has built a documentary of their times together in the field. I’ve had the privilege of viewing an early release of Billy’s work titled – A Season to Remember – and I can tell you that it’s the old still photos that makes this film a smashing success.
3. Picking a Camera
You don’t have to be Ansel Adams with the camera and you don’t have to run out and buy the latest and greatest. While the new top of the line Nikon is ideal, it’s far too complex, expensive and bulky for most outdoorsmen. I often use a my cell phone to capture these memories. It’s not ideal, but it’s convenient as I typically carry it wherever I go.
4. Take a Lot Now and Review Later
I cheat; I take lots of photos and I mean lots. Then, when I have time, I review each photo deleting the bad and only keeping the most epic. I almost always use the flash and, most importantly, I take my time when I have the chance. If it’s a trophy shot, I first prep and then position the subjects so I’m not shooting directly into the sun. I then remove any brush obstructing the subjects. Again, I typically always use the flash, and finally I snap away. Different angles, different poses and different distances. I find the best trophy shot is often the close-up where I’m lying on my side, and where the flash is close enough to properly bounce off the subject.
5. Safe Storage
Finally, once you take your photos and decide on the keepers, always remember to store them is a safe place. During this past spring’s walleye bite, I fell into the lake with my cell phone camera in my pocket. Embarrassing – yes – devastating – no. Had I not had my pictures backed-up to my computer it sure would have been, as so many awesome memories would have been forever lost.