A how to guide on photographing Fish

Ever wondered how the professionals take these great photos; well here is a quick guide on how to do it.

First catch your fish. There are a couple of things with this. Some of my fish that I have taken have been caught, photographed and then released without any harm coming to them.

If you have caught them for the table and want them to photograph, PLEASE DO NOT cut their throats. This is the most important bit of information I can give you as it distorts the head of the fish and you have work too hard to remedy it. However, if you have bought the fish from a fishmonger or have cut their throats, don’t despair. All you need to do is get some fishing line and sew the gap up as much as you can. This is not easy, but you will make a difference when editing the photo. This also applies if you have gutted it, just fill it with anything you like and sew it back up. Make sure it looks natural though!!

I have a piece of ‘off white’ vinyl glued to a bit of foam rubber to enable the fish to sit flat and be pinned out. Once you have the fish ready (not flapping about), place the fish on it then pin all the fins out as shown.

Most photographers know that you just cannot use direct sunlight on your subject. So I use a piece of sail material as a diffuser to soften the shadows. I have made a frame of small PVC pipe to hold this sail material flat. I then get my wife to hold it in place whilst I take my photos or as I have here, get some stools and hold it in place.

When taking the digital photos, make sure you have the camera on the highest resolution setting as you can. This is to make it easier when you come to editing the photo.

 I then use Photoshop to take out the pins and strings out of the picture and fix any torn fins. This is a time consuming job, but as you can see, it is well worth it. I then go to another “add on” program that takes out the background. Once I am happy with the fish, I then put it back into Photoshop to put a drop shadow onto the fish.


Written by Graham Cumming 2010