Fd: How did fly fishing and photography get together in your life?
Nick: I grew up fly fishing from a very young age. My mother is the major angler in my family and there hasn’t been a day in my life that I’ve had waders on before her. I was lucky enough to travel and fish a lot with my family growing up and my love of photography and fishing developed the more I did it. Photos seem to be the best when you care about what you are shooting, and that is likely the reason I find myself shooting fishing more than anything else.
Fd: How do you handle both at the same time when you are out there?
Nick: It’s a struggle. Sure, there are lots of days when I just want to fish and not carry a camera, but I can’t imagine missing a cool shot or special fish because I was too lazy to carry a camera. As the photography side of things has grown, I definitely find myself going slower, shooting more, and maybe fishing a little less. I enjoy both, so I don’t really see it as a trade-off.
Fd: Do you have any mentors in regard to fly-fishing photography?
Nick: Andy Anderson has always been someone I think very highly of. He took so many of the classic fishing (and outdoor) shots that drew me to photography in the first place. Ben Knight, who directed DamNation and Eastern Rises, and who is now a friend certainly inspired me greatly along the way.
Fd: We’re seeing lots of drone pictures nowadays. What is your take on this?
Nick: I love the aerial perspective and it’s something I do a lot of. More than anything it provides a better sense of place. If nothing else, fly fishing puts us in some pretty stunning places.
Fd: What would you recommend to the starting photographer and to the anglers that want to have better pictures of their fishing trips and catches?
Nick: Avoid what you see in magazines and on the web. Shoot with a creative eye and look for things you’ve never seen before. Don’t just shoot fishing, some of the better shots come during the travel and things we do to get to the fish.
Fd: What is it that you enjoy the most about your job?
Nick: I work for Outside Magazine and shoot photos on the side. I feel most fortunate for how much I’ve been able to travel and the people I’ve been able to meet.
Fd: Your favorite fishing place?
Nick: Northern Patagonia, near San Martin de los Andes, is hard to be beat in my book. So much water and plenty of big browns. The food doesn’t hurt either.
Fd: What does fly fishing mean to you?
Nick: Fishing has always been what I love to do most, so it’s defined a lot of the choices I’ve made in life. My very best friendships have been made on the river, in addition to my fondest memories. Tough question, I don’t know what I’d do with all my time without it.
Find more about Nick Kelley's work, here: nickgkelley.com and on his Instagram account.