Abundant Life // Father's Day Fly Fishing


I have no patience. Fishing is an entirely forced learning experience for me. The aggressive attitude I generally assume with technical activities only brings extreme frustration to the fly fishing experience. There has to be a certain level of consented meditation to be successful in keeping your fly out of the trees, floating down the creek, hooking cut throat. 

I've grown up fishing with my grandparents, and in pursuit of killing my stress, learned very early on that it’s ok to set the fish pole down, and join grandma taking a few pictures.


Photography has always been a stress killer for me. It’s probably rooted in some deep subconscious issue a therapist will dig up for me to deal with later in life, but for now we will simply acknowledge that being on the outside of something, quietly observing through layers of glass actually calms me spiritually. Photographing fishing is foremost on the calming scale. 

Fastforward to 2015; I find myself in the back seat of an F-150 Raptor, rumbling down a dirt road, trailing the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, with my father-in-law and two brothers-in-law, on Fathers Day. 

All of these photos were taken with a 50mm f1.4, or 24-105mm f4. Color images are Kodak Portra 800 + from VSCO FILM 01 to punch the greens in the trees, and yellow/oranges in the water. Black and white images are Kodak TRI-X 400 ++ from VSCO FILM 01 for its faded tonal value; it's super contrasty, but super soft. 


It’s insane to me that we each agreed to meeting at “5:45” in the morning, and are running up the river to cast a line in the water. It’s crazy to me that we can talk about casting that line for lifetimes, and spend every paycheck on the newest gear. But there’s something to this experience; something that keeps a fire glowing everyday, in the spirit of these men. 

I’ve dunked my camera in the river one too many times. I’ve got sand in my focus gears, and the auto focus system in my nifty fifty is completely worn out, the rubber grips are peeling off every angle of this 5D… cameras, lenses, bags, CF cards… they’re all just tools to me now, much like all the rods, reels, and flies that we are throwing around on the water. Art is what it’s all about. Recording this world in beautiful light… or not beautiful light.


I want to add that it’s also about “sharing that art,” but that topic just depresses me. I’ve been so discouraged lately about sharing my photographs and stories, because I didn’t get as many “likes” or new “followers” as I had hoped. The idea of sharing art that I make brings on cold sweats, wondering if it will be good enough to make someone stop scrolling for a few moments, and double tap. 


The photographs I make are for me. 


Thank you Mitch Williams for the photos of my fish.


The photographs I make help me grasp the world for what it is. Framing little bits of the planet and saving those specific selections of time is my way of appreciating and understanding what life is. 

I am constantly comparing my images to the VSCO Legends, and trying to shoot photos that SIMMs would use for marketing. I become depressed as more and more people around me enter the game of “Photography” with all the same gear, more followers, and a better “eye." I am drowning in distractions. All God wants for us is to live an abundant life, and here I am saddened that everyone is succeeding. 

The images I make for me, totally separated from the world of VSCO and Instagram, feel so beautiful. 


It’s on this Fathers Day fishing trip that I sit back, and lose myself in the river. With the help of three great teachers, I pull in a giant Cut Throat Trout. I make photographs and quietly enjoy this abundant life.  

Sam McGhee4 Comments