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When I accepted this job, one of the tasks I was given was to sort through the fish photos this paper receives each week, write captions for them and get them in the paper as soon as possible.
My first thought was, “Ugh. That will just take up space for my sports photos.”
But I decided I would do what I was told. If that’s the worst part about this new job, I would have no complaints.
I am surprised by the number of fish photos we receive—and I am surprised by my reaction to it: I now look forward to seeing what fish photos are dropped off at The Beacon.
What’s beautiful about these photos is their authenticity. Line up in front of the camera, hold the fish, have someone snap the photo. That’s all that’s needed. If the photo is in focus, is well lit and is in good taste, it most likely will be printed in the paper.
But some photos are more memorable than others.
Among my favorites are those of children holding their first-caught fish, or those of children in a family showing a catch after an all-day fishing trip. It’s obvious from the photo the photographer snapped the picture without having to tell the child to “Smile.” The child probably had been smiling for a long time after the catch and perhaps was smiling for some time after the photo was snapped.
These photos are fun to view. The child’s joy makes me smile and probably makes the newspaper reader smile, too.
And the size of the fish hardly matters. A few weeks ago we ran a photo of a 3-year-old holding the first fish he caught—the striped fish was small you could hardly notice it. But he proudly held the fish—and a relative proudly snapped the photo.
As a sports photographer, my favorite photos are just those kinds of photos—the ones that show emotion. The emotions can range from joy to sadness. But emotions can also be reflective. Such a photo ran last week, that of a fisherman holding with two hands his catch. It was a rather ordinary photo. But while holding the fish, the fisherman was smoking a cigarette out of left corner of his mouth—a Marlboro man with a fish. It was one of those unvarnished photos—“Hey, hold your fish while I take your photo”—that instantly became memorable to me.
And many of you may have seen the photo of the North Carolina fisherman who caught a state-record catfish—using his 3-year-old granddaughter’s hot pink Barbie Doll fishing rod and reel. There he was, holding the 32-inch catfish, which weighed 21 pounds, 1 ounce. Next to him, waist high, was his granddaughter, her heading resting on the right side of his stomach as she was holding the pink fishing rod.
So to those who fish, have a good time. And bring that camera.
MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.