Fd: How did fly fishing and photography get together for you?
MJ: Growing up in Texas, I had a rod in hand as a child fishing for bass in local ponds and lakes. This grew into an obsession and throughout my teenage years I was fishing in local bass tournaments in hopes to go pro one day. It wasn’t until the age of 17 when I first picked up a fly rod and discovered what fly fishing and the culture was all about. From that moment forward, fly fishing was all I thought about. The conventional gear has been in the closet ever since.
As for photography, I started shooting film in high school and continued shooting as a hobby. In 2007 I began my first season as a guide in Alaska and decided it was time to upgrade to a digital camera. Three months in one of the most beautiful places on Earth was the perfect time and place for me to grow as a photographer. Coming home that summer, I had my first catalog of fly fishing images that would ultimately land me a few publications. This is what sparked my interest in making photography a career.
Fd: Did you have any influences in regard to photography in general?
MJ: What originally intrigued me in the world of photography was landscapes. When I set out to pursue photography as a career, I started studying the work of commercial photographers. I loved the idea of creating great images for a company and seeing those images being used to help sell their product. If I had to pick a name, Andy Anderson comes to mind. His vision and style for advertising and commercial work is incredible. He has built a brand around himself and is one of the most successful photographers around.
Fd: How did the Alphonse experience go? What can you tell us from that amazing destination in the Seychelles?
MJ: Alphonse, to say the least, is to date the highlight of my career. As the staff photographer for Tailwaters Fly Fishing, I have been enormously blessed to have had the opportunity to travel the world and see some of the greatest fisheries. Visiting the Seychelles has always been at the top of my list. Remoteness paired with all of the great saltwater species, especially the giant trevally, are what make it a rare place to be. If I had to choose a freshwater competitor, it would certainly be Tsimane Lodge in Bolivia, chasing golden dorado.
Fd: What’s next for you? New destinations this year?
MJ: I’m pumped about this year. I’m making my routine visit to Argentina to shoot for Patagonia River Guides in 2 weeks. I’ll be traveling from Rio Pico all the way up to San Martin de los Andes. I’ll also be taking my personal fishing trip to Baja which is an annual outing for my favorite species, the roosterfish. Other than that, the Bahamas, Brazil, Yucatan and possibly a few others will be in the mix.
Brazil is going to be an exploratory trip with Untamed Angling. There are some species I’ve never seen before and I can’t wait to finally see Brazil.
Fd: Any words of advice for the ones getting started in fly-fishing photography?
MJ: First and foremost, try and get away from the “grip and grin”. It’s ok to shoot that image for the appeasement of the angler, but it’s not a portfolio image. Think outside the box. Look for angles that are hard to get to, and rarely seen. Find and image style that speaks to you and build a brand around it. Add tools to your arsenal that will set you apart, such as an underwater housing or drone.
If you are aiming for a career, learn the ins and outs of running a business. And for goodness sakes, don’t sell yourself short! If you have great images, you deserve to be paid for them, not given a free box of fly line!
You can find more about Matt's great work at mattjonesphotography.com and on his Instagram account: instagram.com/matt.jones.photography or @matt.jones.photography.