Friday Classic: Family, Fishing, Photography With Lucas Carroll

Lucas Carroll is passionate about family, fishing and photography, in ways that can be matched by few. He was willing to answer a few questions with us and share some of his photos, along with the story behind the image and tips for how he got the shot. The passion that comes through in Lucas’s words and images is inspiring. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do:

STS: We think you shoot some of the best fly-fishing images out there. What was your path to becoming a professional photographer who focuses on fishing?

LC: Thanks!  I was a math teacher before my children were born, and quit my job to stay home and raise them.  At nights after they would go to bed, I would study photography books and tie flies.  During the day I would take them to the river to fish and practice shooting, usually with one of them on my back in a backpack.  I loved the almost unlimited subjects and intricate details of fly fishing. Eventually after a few years of serious study and shooting my work began to sell, starting with Tom Bie from The Drake.  He was the first editor to contact me, and has supported me ever since.

STS: You have a lot of imagery devoted to kids fishing. We haven’t done an exhaustive search but we don’t know of anyone else with a similar focus on kids and fishing in their photography. Why is this so important to you?

LC: My father always took me hunting and fishing growing up.  Watching him, who was always a very serious and hard working man, come alive and enjoy nature has always been a powerful force in my life.  With children of my own now I see the same thing happening with them.  My ultimate goal as a member of the fly fishing industry is to show people that fly fishing can and should be a family activity.  Parents shouldn’t feel obligated to bring their kids along, but they should want to, because it really is an amazing experience.

STS: I think most of our readers would look at you and think, “that guys living the dream!” Are you?

LC: I am living the dream, but maybe not how most would think.  My amazing wife works hard for our family and that allows me to stay home with my children.  This I know to be thankful for, it’s truly a dream.  As for fishing photography, it’s a bit complicated.  I wouldn’t call it a nightmare by any means, but I’m hesitant on calling it a dream.  To do it well there is a lot of work involved, a lot of computer time, which is not my favorite thing in the world.   The shooting part on the river is by far the best ‘job’ I’ll ever have in my life, but that only represents a fraction of the actual work involved.

STS: Any giant epiphanies from all your years on the water and behind the lens?

LC: Absolutely.  At first I fly fished (and photographed really) for big fish, and big numbers of fish. Fish photos sell, and catching lots of big fish is great no surprise there, but over the years I have changed completely.  I realize now there is so much more to fishing and photography than chasing numbers, such as taking your kids, watching and waiting for a hatch, the art of casting a fly line, the friends you fish with, etc…  When you focus too hard on the numbers, you can miss out on that stuff.

STS: What’s on the horizon, any cool projects you would be willing to share with us?

Right now I’m working on a piece for an upcoming issue of This is Fly.  It’s my first work with them, and I have enjoyed the communication with their editor and the creative freedom the digital platform allows. I’m also heading to musky country for the first time this fall, which has been a goal of mine for many years.  I will be making a video with my good buddy, and a great photographer, Lee Church.

Images with the story behind them and tips for how Lucas got the shot:

Trico CARROLL

Trico Photo by Lucas Carroll

Story: This was captured in Western NY in August, shot during a prolific trico hatch and spinner fall.  I loved this particular female trico mayfly (out of the thousands that were around) because of the one wing and the cooperating look into the lens.

Tip: Any time you shoot a portrait type subject, no matter if it’s a ½” mayfly or a full size human, consider the background.  This is easy to forget, but taking a few extra seconds to line up a proper background can make all the difference. Also great insect and dry fly fishing images are created when you put your fly rod down during a hatch.  I know, it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s true.  I’ve done it so much now I almost get equal enjoyment shooting during a great hatch than fishing… almost.

Steelhead CARROLL

Steelhead Photo by Lucas Carroll

Story: This was captured in Western NY during the fall last year.  A bright and beautiful Great Lake steelhead, I loved the pattern and the hint of pink in her scales.

Tip: Two things really made this shot possible, one is having a fish friendly net, and the other is having a great fishing friend to hold everything steady for me.  Try to capture fish artistically and when they remain in the water, and don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you out, the photos will always turn out better.  You’ll need to return the favor, so don’t forget to be an assistant and help your friends take better pictures too.

Montana CARROLL

Montana Photo by Lucas Carroll

Story: This was taken in Montana on my road trip across the country last spring.  My friends and I had the amazing opportunity to fish and photograph with two of Montana’s best guides, Brant Oswald and Tucker Nelson.  It’s an unedited 35mm film photo.   The beauty of film is it’s capabilities of handling this sort of contrasting scene, bright sky and details in the shadows.

Tip: Knowing what your camera is capable of is half the battle of photography.  When you start to understand if your image is going to be blurry or boring even before you shoot, saves you so much time in the end.  Another thing I try to do is make my fishing subjects get lost in the scene, almost like they become part of the natural beauty.

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