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How to become a professional fly-fishing photographer, with Brian Grossenbacher

Description: My guest this week is Brian Grossenbacher [42:45], one of the finest fly-fishing still photographers in the world. You’ve seen his work on the cover of many magazines and in Orvis catalogs. (Brian and I recently collaborated on a book entitled, simply, Trout, with his images and my essays. ) Learn how Brian’s career changed from being a full-time fishing guide to a professional photographer and glean some tips on how to go pro yourself—or at least improve the quality of your own images. Along the way, Brian tells a couple stories that had me in tears of laughter as I was recording this.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast." This is your host Tom Rosenbauer and my guest this week is photographer Brian Grossenbacher. Brian is one of the few people in the world really that's able to make a living as a fly fishing photographer. It's a hard way to make a living. And so, the discussion is about how Brian was able to achieve his dream, the dream job that lots of us would like to have, and also how to go pro if you want to, what do you need to do to become a professional fly fishing photographer, and then some tips on taking great fly fishing pictures as opposed to just okay fly fishing pictures. And pro tip here, it doesn't involve buying an expensive camera. You do need a decent camera, but there are other things that are far more important than having the latest and greatest in camera gear.
And Brian and I recently collaborated on a book called "Trout," just came out in April. It's what you'd call a coffee table book. Brian did the beautiful images and I wrote some essays and it's a book that I'm personally very proud of. I don't get a chance to write essays that much. Most of the stuff I do is nuts and bolts. So it was a delightful project and working with Brian, and watching him work was a real education for me. So, hope you enjoy this, and just a warning, there are a couple stories that Brian tells in the podcast, and one of them involves a little bit of mild potty humor. So, in case you think that might offend you, you maybe shouldn't listen to the podcast or fast forward through that part, but it is a very funny story that had me in tears. So, anyway I don't mind a little potty humor now and then. It involves a practical joke.
So...Anyway, let's get on to the fly box. I'll answer some questions or I'll try to answer some questions, and if you have some questions for me, you can send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can either just put your question in your email, type it in, or you can attach a voice file and try to keep it two minutes or under if you can because none of us wanna ramble too much. All right, here is the first question. And it's an email from John M. "How much impact do you think there is when I use bug spray and then handle rigs or flies? Do you think any of the residual effects can get on the fly or tip it and create a negative response from a fish? Thanks. And thanks for the years of work on this podcast. I can't think of a better reference source than all the content you and your guests have created."
Well, thank you, John. And yeah, I think there's definitely an effect. Bug spray, particularly bug spray with DEET, first of all, can damage your tippet if you are using nylon monofilament. Probably won't hurt fluorocarbon but it can hurt the finish on your fly lines. It can eat into any plastics. It's a pretty nasty chemical. It does work. It works better than anything else for repelling bugs, but you need to be really careful. If I get into a situation where I have to use DEET, I will try not to get it on my fingers at all. I'll rub it using my wrists or something. And then I will often just wash my hands in some mud or gravel to remove any residual bug spray. Because it can definitely hurt your leader in your fly line and whether it creates a negative response from the fish, I'm not sure, depends on, when you're fishing in a fast current the fish doesn't use its sense of smell very much. It's using its sense of sight, but if you're in a slower current or you're fishing in a lake, there could be a plume of bugs spray smell around your fly. So, I would avoid it. I would avoid getting it on your fly and your terminal tackle at all costs.
"Hello, Tom. My name is Michael Cravins. I'm out here in Arizona where I work as the advocacy and conservation director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. Therefore, it is very much appreciated by me that you always keep conservation a central theme in everything you do. So thank you for that. Also, I'm gonna take that a little farther, and say as the volunteer vice chair of Arizona Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, I wanna say thanks for always rocking that Public Lands t-shirt. That is a strong message and I appreciate you supporting that great organization and our public lands, of course. Finally, I do have a question for you. I enjoyed your episode last week with Charlie Berens and Adam Greuel. And my question is, would you please do the entire fly fishing community a favor and introduce those fellas to Hank Patterson? I think we would all benefit greatly from the fruits of that introduction and man, I would love to see those guys do some work together. All right. Thanks, Tom.
"Well, thank you very much, Michael, for your comments. And those are things that I believe in sincerely, and regarding getting Charlie and Adam together with Hank Patterson, well, that could be quite a show. I'd have to prepare for that one, but I'll talk to the boys and see if they're in for it.
Let's do an email. This one's from Brian in Ann Arbor. "This is in response to Mike who suggested that your interview about rod making was boring and nobody cares about stuff like this. One man's trash is another man's treasure. As a nerd through and through, I love hearing about the engineering and design that goes into everything, not just fly fishing. When a podcast goes into a deep dive into a subject like rod design, I'm riveted. As a home cook, I'm interested in how knives, pots, pans, wooden spoons, etc. are all made. As a cyclist, I'm interested in how frames, tubes, and bikes are designed. As an angler, I'm interested in how rods, reels, and lines are designed. I completely understand the desire to skip past this sort of content, but for me, I say, give me more nerdy deep dives about whatever you wanna talk about. Thank you, Tom, for creating content that crosses the spectrum of interest."
Well, thank you, Brian. And you know, these podcasts that I develop, the guests that I get are in response to questions that I get from you. So, I did know that there were a lot of people that were interested in rod design and I wouldn't introduce a topic or get a guest in something that I didn't think anyone would be interested in. So, glad you enjoyed the interview with Sean.
Here's an email from George from Chelsea, Michigan. "Please do not come and fish any of our Northern Michigan trout streams. The fishing is lousy and you'd probably hate it." Well, that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull, George. "I noticed that when I fish any size Elk Hair Caddis, it usually lands on its side when it hits the water. So the trout would be looking at its side profile with the body and Elk Hair, not the bottom of the fly, the Caddis side tire standard Elk Hair Caddis or an ex-Caddis. I'm wondering if this is unusual for that fly, if not, am I tying them incorrectly casting wrong, or using the wrong tippet or not configuration? Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks."
So, George, first of all, I wouldn't worry about your Caddis landing on their side because when caddis hatch and they twitch around in the water, they often knock themselves over or the current knocks them over and they land on their side. So, they're in all different orientations in the surface film, and having a caddis that sits up perfectly straight is not necessarily what you need, but if you do want your flies to land with the wing up and the body just hanging straight down, couple things you can do. One is to use a little bit more Elk Hair and make sure that it extends around the side of the fly. That will give it a little kind of an outrigger profile like a [inaudible 00:09:55]. And then the other thing, a lot of people make their hackle...on the Elk Hair Caddis itself, where you palmer the hackle, a lot of people make the hackle too long, and that will make the fly tip over on its side. When I tie an Elk Hair Caddis, I don't like the palmered hackle to be much more than a hook gap. So, it barely extends past the point of the hook or even shorter than the hook gap and that'll keep it. I think it looks a little more realistic. So, anyway, but don't worry about your Elk Hair Caddis landing on their side. They're still gonna catch lots of fish and maybe more than one that's riding upright.
Here's an email from Sam. "I have a couple of quick questions I'm hoping you can answer. First, most of my fly fishing has been on small streams in the Southeast where you're almost always fishing riffles and pocket water. I've been noticing lately that over the course of a few hours of fishing, I always have trouble with my leader staying afloat. I almost always fish dry dropper. So once my leader starts sinking, it makes it much harder to get a good drift through this type of water. Should I expect to have to change leaders over the course of a day when this starts to happen? Should I be greasing my leader before I start to try to prevent this in the first place?
For my other question, I'm hoping you can help me spend some Orvis gift cards I've been fortunate to receive recently. I have an inexpensive 8-weight combo that I purchased last year, mostly for warm water fishing. I do get to fish, to surf once or twice a year. And I would like to start trying to find some carp this summer as well. I have $200 of gift cards, and I'm thinking maybe upgrading the reel for this rod would be a good use of the money looking at a Hydros, but I'm not sure if maybe it would be better spent put toward a nicer rod like the Recon. I've already purchased a couple of new higher-quality fly lines floating in sink tip. Otherwise, I'm guessing that would be the best use. Curious for your opinion. Thanks. I really love the show and the resource it provides for us. I especially appreciate your levelheaded approach to everything in a world where levelheadedness sometimes seems to be lacking."
Well, thank you. So, your first question, Sam, actually, monofilament does absorb water over time and actually, your knots can get weaker, wet knot strength is weaker than dry knot strength so, they can absorb a little water. But yeah, you should absolutely grease your leader when you're fishing riffles and pocket water with dry droppers. I always do. And it helps prevent drag because your leader's not sinking underwater and it helps you see your fly, helps keep your fly floating. It helps you pick up off the water. So, probably in really flat water greasing your whole leader might not be a good idea, although I do it there sometimes. But yeah, I would grease my leader in almost anything that has an oil or a paste will make your leader float oil off your nose or better yet, just a paste dry fly float will work and just rub it on your leader, and I think you'll be good to go. So, yeah, it's perfectly all right to grease your leader.
And regarding your second question, hmm, well, if you are happy, if you're happy with that 8-weight rod, then probably your money is best spent on a Hydros reel. You do need a good reel for carp. In most freshwater situations for most trout fishing, most bass fishing, pike fishing, you don't need much of a drag on your reel because fish don't pull much line, but a good carp can easily get you into your backing and you do want a good drag. So, if you're happy with that 8-weight, the Hydros would be a good investment. On the other hand, fishing for carp, you need to be as accurate as possible. Accuracy is more important than anything else in carp fishing. You need to put the fly exactly where you wanna put it and a better rod is gonna be a little bit more accurate. So, it's a toss-up really, but if you're happy with the rod, I'd get the reel, if you can't place your fly precisely at 30 or 40 feet within, I don't know, a foot square, foot diameter target or even less, a 6-inch diameter target. If you can't do that consistently with that 8-weight, then maybe a Recon would be a better investment.
John: Hey Tom, this is John out of Denver, Colorado. I had a question. I know you mentioned warm water species fishing during summertime for carp and smallmouth, largemouth bass. And I've recently been getting pretty heavy into it because of proximity to my work and where I live, it's much closer than the nearest trout stream. And I had a question for you about fly fishing for carp specifically. What is your kind of fly choice that you use and what kind of presentation do you choose to give to carp? Do you fight fish them, do you blind fish for them? And how do you detect strikes? Because recently I've had some trouble in detecting strikes from carp because they can eat pretty subtly sometimes. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you very much.
Tom: Well, John, carp flies can vary depending on the situation. So, you need to find out what the carp are feeding on in your area. For instance, for most of the carp fishing that I do, and what most people do, is carp are feeding on small insect larvae and small crayfish. They love small crayfish, small crustaceans in general. Small mayfly nymphs. They'll also eat vegetation. They'll eat cottonwood fluff, and they'll eat seeds off trees. They'll eat mulberries, but you need to find out what kind of stuff they're eating. They will almost always eat a small crayfish. And my favorite fly is called Mike's Fuzzy Niblet, it was developed by Mike Schmidt. And it has bead chain eyes, and it's kind of fluffy. So, it lands really lightly and it sinks slowly. And I like to use that and I get way ahead of the carp or try to lead them, and that fly lands with such a soft plop that it typically doesn't spook them. On the other hand, my fishing buddy Sean Combs, rod designer, fishes with a fly called the Carp Nasty, which has small lead or solid metal eyes. That makes more of a plop. And I find that flies like that spook the fish more. When we go fishing together, Sean usually outfishes me by one or two fish. So, that doesn't really tell you anything because he's got better eyes than me and he's a better caster and he's more accurate. Anyways, those are a couple of good flies that'll work almost anywhere.
The other one is called a hybrid, which is a cross between a worm and a nymph. There are lots of different carp flies, small trout or large trout nymphs will work for them, little tiny Wooly Buggers. I typically like about a size eight. I'm fishing mainly rivers and large lakes, but you can go a little bit bigger. You can even go as small as a size 10. Then there are places like the Great Lakes where the carp are a lot more aggressive and they'll actually chase gobies, bait fish. And there you wanna use a bigger fly that imitates a streamer, but they'll always eat a small crayfish. And that's why I like that, either the Fuzzy Niblet or the Carp Nasty, both of those are great flies.
Now, the presentation to carp is critical because I think they see pretty well. People say they don't see that well, and I think their vision's pretty good, but they tend to eat stuff that's only right in front of them and you have to place the fly very precisely in front of a moving carp or a feeding carp. And so, accuracy, accuracy, accuracy is so important and probably the best method is to get a little bit beyond and a little bit ahead of a cruising carp, drop the fly as lightly as you can and then draw it slowly so that it drops right in front of the carp. So, it's dropping slowly right in front of the carp. It's called the drag and drop technique.
Now, once the carp gets near the fly, there are two ways of doing it. And again, Sean and I have different philosophies on this. Sean does not move his fly. Sean just drops it in front of the fish, lets it sink in front of the fish, and leaves it there most of the time. And the fish comes along and Sean watches the fish very carefully. You really need to be able to see a carp's head in order to catch them consistently. That's why you need clear water to really effectively fly fish for carp. And Sean watches the fish and he knows where his fly is and when he sees the fish tip down or get excited and move off to the side, he gently tightens the line and, hopefully, he gets some resistance and he sets the hook with a strip strike.
My presentation is a little bit different in that I move my fly very, very slowly and I keep it moving. If I see the carp moving toward the fly, then I'll just stop, and watch the fish. But I will put just a little bit of movement on it. The last thing you wanna do is to strip very quickly for most carp fishing. Now, in some of those aggressive fish, in the great lakes where they're feeding on bait fish, you can get away with a standard trout strip, but you generally don't wanna fish for them as you do for trout in lakes or bass where you're stripping fairly aggressively. Your strip should be slow.
And as far as detecting strikes are concerned, first of all, a tight line, regardless of whether you're drawing that fly slowly or you're letting it sit a tight line, very tight to the fly with your rod tip pointed right at the fly is essential. And Sean actually will feel the carp picking up the fly because when they do pick it up, they do move the fly a little bit. And by watching his floating line and by having a tight line, Sean can see when they strike. Of course, the way I'm doing it when I'm drawing it gently, I'll feel that tightening when they take the fly. It's either a carp or the bottom, often it's the bottom. But whatever you do, you need to get that fly right in front of the carp. You need to find carp that are feeding. Generally, fish that are moving along the bottom slowly are feeding. If they're riding high in the water and moving fairly fast, they're a very difficult target. So, you need to find them.
And one other way you can fish for carp is something that I'll do. If I can't see the fish but I can see a mud, I can see a mud out there in the water, maybe the water's too deep and I can't see the fish or the light's not great, but you can see that mud plume that they make, I'll take something like a squirmy worm, a nice soft fly or a San Juan Worm, and I'll throw it in the...I'll try to estimate where the carp's head is by looking at that plume of mud and I'll just throw that fly out there. And then once it gets to the bottom, I'll just get my line really tight and just wait for, hopefully, the carp to come along and inhale the fly, and again, you can feel that, but carp fishing is tough. It's one of the toughest kinds of fly fishing you can do in freshwater, but it's also one of the few freshwater fish that's going to often get you into your backing. And I find them endlessly, endlessly, fascinating as you can probably figure out by my explanation of this. So, good luck with those carp. They are not easy, but you'll get it.
Here's an email from Nicholas. "Here are a couple of tips for listeners. When tying and crowding the eye with materials, take a bodkin and put it through the eye going up, light the tip with a lighter to heat it up, and then pull the bodkin back through the eye to clean it up. When fishing in winter, put hand warmers under your jacket on your inside wrist covering your veins to keep your hands warm. A construction worker gave me this tip and the Orvis Pro Wading Jacket holds the hand warmers in place perfectly."
Well, thank you for those tips, Nicholas. Those are great ones. That method of cleaning the eye, you just need to be very careful when heating the eye of a hook to clean it, because if your thread is too close to the eye, you can scorch the thread and then it's gonna unwind. So, it's probably best to put head cement on the head before you clean it. The other way that can be used is a cauterizer tool with a very thin tip, a cauterizer tool. I use that. You have to be really, really careful, again, that you don't burn the thread up at the eye, but a cauterizing tool is another way of cleaning up eyes, particularly bigger eyes on saltwater and bass flies. Thank you for those tips.
Here's an email from Michael from Vermont. "Cannot express the gratitude I have as a new fly fisher for all material you and Orvis generate, seems like there's not a single fly fishing topic left unturned. This is a long one. Humor me. I'm excited. I wanted to drop a line into the podcast to say that here at the beginning of my second season as a fly fisher, I've finally made the kind of cast I've always wanted in no small part to the advice I've absorbed from you, and Orvis, and Pete, perhaps naively, I wanted to offer this tip. Beginners should consider adding a heavier weight rod to their arsenal sooner rather than later to help with casting mechanics. For a whole season, I had intermittent success, mostly on the lawn. I used panfish and smallmouth as morale boosters, and still haven't caught my first trout. My delicate 4-weight rod was hard to pin down, intolerant of errors, and did not afford me the feedback I needed to perfect my casting stroke or hauling or timing. Between that and the rod shop jargon, it always felt like I was missing something like going to a friend's house who really loves wine. 'I particularly like the apricot and plum notes in this one,' and all I can think of is, 'It's red. This one is red.'
It wasn't until the episode on rod design, which I stayed awake for its entirety, that I decided to gear up for an upcoming surf Chesapeake trip with a 9-weight Clearwater rod and intermediate line. Within minutes of my first lawn session with a 9-weight, I was finally there. Bone rattling, line shooting cast that brought the entire village to a standstill, granite hollers on the nearby state route screamed to a halt. My cantankerous neighbor sensed my success from deep in his woodshop and cracked a wry smile and stunned onlookers embraced and screamed, 'He did it, praise Tom.' But I couldn't hear them over the rush of line through the guides. I made more progress in 25 minutes with my 9-weight on the lawn than I did in a whole season with the 4-weight. I strung up the 4-weight just for kicks and immediately noticed I was able to control the rod better now that I knew what to feel for. What I realized in that single session with the 9-weight is that the heavier rod and line actually gave me the feeling I was missing for my lighter 4-weight trout rod. It helped me understand loading, timing, hauling, and shooting. You don't have to guess what you're feeling when you're casting a heavyweight line around in comparison to the delicate 4-weight. I'm so impressed by it that I think anyone who's having difficulty with their casting should try a heavier rod. Coincidentally, the appearance of a fighting [inaudible 00:28:38] on Pete's Rods in the 'Orvis Casting Clinic' videos leads me to believe this is not new advice."
Well, that is a great tip, Michael, and thank you for the wonderful story. Yeah, a rod that you can feel is gonna give you more feedback on your casting. And another thing that we'll often do for somebody who's really struggling with casting is to overline the rod one or two line sizes. It may not be the greatest thing to use on the water where you want a delicate 4-weight. But putting a little bit heavier line on the rod makes it bend more, loads it better as Sean would say, and helps you feel the rod. So, either a heavier rod or a slower rod, like a fiberglass rod will sometimes help, or overlining a rod may help people with casting mechanics. So, thank you for that.
Here's an email from Aaron from Louisiana. "Hi, Tom. As always, love the podcast. So, I went to Galveston, Texas over Memorial Day weekend in search of a speckled trout and redfish. I've fished there before maybe four to five times, and I've had a couple spots I've had some success with. This time, the entire weekend had relentless wind, 20, 25-mile-per-hour nonstop the 3 days I was there. The wind had the water churned up and visibility was about 2 inches at best. It's normally about 1 to 2 feet visibility in the past when I've been there. I would normally catch about five trout in a day in the bays blind casting and tack on a couple more with sight casting as well. Not this time, I got one trout the entire trip.
The last day I found a spot that was relatively shallow and I could see huge reds and black drum tailing. The wind made paddling my kayak and actually making a good cast all but impossible. In six hours, I got maybe five good shots due to the wind blowing me all over the place. I even anchored down at one point hoping a fish would come close enough to cast, but it didn't happen. Waiting was not an option because the bottom was soft mud and you would sink to your knees, found out the hard way. I was using a black fly with some flash, hoping the fish would be able to see it, but I got only one follow, a seagull came down and took the fly before the fish got it. Unbelievable. Right? My question is, have you experienced fishing conditions like this before? Could I have done anything else? Should I have thrown in the towel and just gone to the beach and worked on my tan? This was the hardest three days of fly fishing I've ever experienced. Hope you might have some insight for me. Thanks, Tom, and happy fishing."
Well, Aaron, welcome to the world of saltwater fly fishing. It's so weather-dependent and so condition-dependent, and you're gonna have days like that. And if I were faced with 20 to 25-mile-an-hour winds and poor visibility, I'd probably fish just as you did, but I probably wouldn't have done any better than you. If conditions are bad, you got a little tiny fly and it's a big ocean out there. And if visibility is poor and casting is tough because the wind is blowing so hard, it's gonna be tough and I don't know...You used a black fly. That's what I would've done. They're more visible in muddy water, but it's just gonna happen. And you just keep going and put in your time, and hopefully the next time we'll have better conditions, but that's pretty, pretty tough conditions to fly fishing. Bait fishing with a spin rod might have been a better option if that's at all of interest to you.
Here's an email from Travis from Logan, Utah. "I was wondering about fly rod durability in the cold. I have been told to not fish my nicer rods when it's cold because they become brittle when cold. Is this true? At what temperatures would you worry about them? Also wanted to say thanks for the podcast. When I was looking to get another rod, I asked to cast the Helios 3F 4-Weight off your recommendation. It persuaded me and I now own my first Orvis rod."
So, Travis, I don't know who told you that cold will hurt fly rods, but those things are impermeable to both cold and heat. I don't know how cold it would have to get before they're brittle, but I would say it would be probably close to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't think you're gonna be fishing in that temperature. And as far as heat is concerned, it would have to be over 300 degrees for your fly rod to be hurt by heat. So, there are not any circumstances of either cold or heat that you're gonna encounter when fishing that you have to worry about a fly rod. Now, it's possible that with an older bamboo rod...I would say a bamboo rod made prior to World War II, they used glues that weren't as resistant to heat and cold, and they varnished the rods and sometimes the varnish would crack, and yeah, maybe with an older bamboo rod, cold might hurt it. But when you're talking modern rods, modern graphite, bamboo, fiberglass rods, you don't have to worry about temperature.
There's an email from Caleb from Southeast Idaho. "I've been tying flies for about two years now, mostly trout flies. About six months ago, I invented a fly that has really fished well, it's now my go-to nymph. To my knowledge, there's nothing really like it out there. Through websites and fly shops, I've never seen a pattern like it. My question is, what do I do with it now? Do I post it online to share how effective it is? Do I try to sell it at a fly shop? Do I just keep it to myself? Thank you for your diligence and hard work on the podcast."
So, Caleb, of course, it's up to you, what you do with it. I wouldn't put it on social media if I were you, people are nasty on social media and somebody's gonna tell you that your fly was invented 200 years ago or that it's nothing new or that it's not gonna work. And do you really wanna make yourself open to criticism and do you really wanna share your fly with random people on social media? I don't think so. I wouldn't. Selling it in a fly shop is an option or sharing, just sharing it with people in the fly shop. You wanna share it, take it in and show it to some people, and you got a lot of good fly shops in your area. Take it into a fly shop, if you wanna share it, and show it to people, and if you're interested in tying commercially, maybe you wanna tie it, but somebody's gonna knock it off pretty quickly. And that's the other thing is you put it on social media and somebody's gonna knock it off and call it their own pattern. So, it's really up to you.
Maybe you should send me one because I want to see what it looks like. There isn't much new in fly design. If you've got something that's really new, that's terrific because there's lots of prior art as they say in patent design. And by the way, it's almost impossible to patent a fly design. So, I wouldn't go that route and it's very expensive. So, it's up to you, but I definitely wouldn't put it online and I might share it with the local fly shops. if they really like the fly, maybe they'll give you some hot tips on some secret places.
Mike: "Hi, Tom, Mike from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have a comment, a request, and a question. So, the comment is I just finished up the Lowcountry Saltwater School down in Beaufort, South Carolina. Excellent school, got to fish a few days with that school, caught my first redfish on the fly. Even though as I was fighting my first redfish, I had a dolphin come flying in that had been hanging a distance away from us and tried to take the redfish away from me. Luckily he missed and broke up the school, but didn't get my fish. And just a great area, great class. I really enjoyed it, got to use the Helios 3D rod. Great rod, liked it so much I'm gonna probably have to pick one up for myself, and really got hooked on redfish fishing. Picked up a couple of books on the subject, the "Orvis Guide to Fly-Fishing for Coastal Game Fish and Fly-Fishing for Redfish." That one is by Chico Fernandez and the "Orvis Guide" by Aaron Adams. Both excellent books.
The request, I looked back through the history, I think back as far as 2014 of the podcast and saw '14, '15, and I think one in '16 and '17, episodes on redfish fishing. I would love to hear another one on the redfish fishing. And my question is, I've been fly fishing for a while, but I found the site fishing to be very challenging because of the quick nature of it and things like that. Anything you have, any feedback or suggestions you have for improving your ability to make those quick cast and sight fishing situations would be greatly appreciated. I'm particularly looking for anything that I could make use of while I'm actually on the water. I had some suggestions from one of the guides down there about some practice and I heard in one of your podcasts some practice suggestions, which are great, but time is limited for me right now. And I would like to try to take whatever time I have and spend it on the water, but also maybe try to figure out a way to get some practice in for that. So, would greatly appreciate hearing another podcast on redfish fishing and any suggestions you have on how to improve your fly casting for that type of situation. Thanks again, Tom."
Tom: Mike, I'm glad you enjoyed that Lowcountry Saltwater School. They have some great instructors in that school and it's a beautiful location. I have never heard of a dolphin trying to take a redfish so that's a pretty cool sight and I'm glad you got to experience that. And thanks for the tips on those books. Yes, they are excellent. We'll do some more redfish shows. I have that on my list of podcasts to do because based on what I've learned, redfish is the most popular saltwater fish that people chase for the fly rod. So, thanks for the reminder. I'll definitely go through my list of expert red fishers and get a good guest on the podcast because I'm not very good at red fishing.
Regarding making those quick casts when sight fishing, a couple things. You need to practice. Unfortunately, there's no magic bullet that I can give you. It's gonna take practice. And I would get yourself on a pond or in your backyard and put a bunch of targets at varying distances and go from one target to the next and try to drill that fly as quickly as possible to that target. And the important thing is you wanna use only one or no false cast between targets. So, practice, practice shooting enough line so that you can hit that longer one with a single false cast and, on the short ones, practice just picking up and drilling it to that short target. But there's really no magic bullet.
One of the things you wanna make sure is that you have enough line hanging from your rod tip as you're either wading or standing in the bow of the boat, have enough line hanging from your rod tip so that you can start to flex that rod when you make that first cast. And usually, you hold the fly in your hand, you have enough line out so that...And I would say like a rod length of line or maybe a little bit more and you wanna move your rod off to the side and then just make a single false cast and drill that fly to the fish as quickly as you can. But again, it's gonna take practice and there's no way around it.
All right. That is the fly box for this week. Thank you for those great questions and appreciate everyone's feedback and tips. Now let's go talk to Brian Grossenbacher about becoming a professional fly fishing photographer. Well, my guest today is photographer Brian Grossenbacher, and unless you've lived under a rock for the past 20 years, you may not know the name, but I am sure you have seen Brian's photographs. Brian has had many, many magazine covers. Brian is one of the top shooters for the Orvis catalog. We work with Brian a lot and I've personally been on a bunch of shoots with Brian, and we always have fun. And we're gonna talk...Brian, welcome to the podcast, first of all.
Brian: Hey, thank you, Tom. I really appreciate you having me on.
Tom: Oh, that's great. Oh, well, I appreciate you taking the time. And I thought we would talk today about how you became a professional fly fishing photographer, and then along the way, give people some tips on how they can...maybe they don't want to go pro, but how they can improve their own photography because making a living as a fly fishing photographer has gotta be one of the hardest things to do. It's a small market, believe it or not, there isn't a lot of money in fly fishing, believe it or not, people are always shocked when I say this, and it's a tiny market, but you've been able to do it successfully. So, let's talk about how you got started.
Brian: Oh gosh, Tom, like so many things in my life, it was a total accident. I was asked to write a book, kind of a guidebook to fly fishing Montana. And when I received the photo budget...My original plans were to buy the photos for the book. And when I received the photo budget, it was so small that I had to look again to see if I was missing a couple of zeros and there was no way that I was going to insult my fishing photographer friends with that. And so, I made the decision to go out and buy a camera. I'm not kidding. I was guiding at the time and had been guiding for 15 years and I didn't own a camera. And certainly not a camera that I could take usable images by any stretch. But went downtown Bozeman, went to the camera store there, and used the photo budget and I bought a Nikon D70 and two lenses. And digital photography was just kind of starting.
And this was in 2005 and I bought the camera, two lenses, and I thought, "You know what, I'm gonna try to take as many pictures as I can. And if I have to pay for photos out of pocket, I will." And I started to schlep the camera gear around on guide trips, and literally, the only formal training I have is sitting by the fireplace and reading the leaflet that came with the D70 and just, I took some practice photos here and there, and I just started shooting stuff that I like to see, that I wanted to see. And that is way too long of a story, but that's the start of it.
And Tom, I just fell in love with it. I'd been guiding for 15 years and I just figured...I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I loved being on the river and I thought, "This is just what I'm gonna do." I'm an outfitter, and we had a successful business going but when I started taking pictures, I found something that was different that still allowed me to be on the river. And I can still remember going back to the...kind of the end of the guide season, I finally had a few days off in late October, and I headed over to Missoula to take some photos on some of the rivers that I'd never really fished, the Bitterroot, the Blackfoot, Rock Creek. And I can remember sitting in this little cafe and going through the photos that I had taken that morning. And I thought, "I really like this. I really, really like what I'm doing." And I love guiding too. I don't wanna sell anything short on guiding, but just having that time on the water., and to be able to create something.
And the ability to have digital photography was...I'm not gonna sugar coat it, those guys that are shooting film, I don't know how they did it. I never could have done it. My ADD is way too strong to come back from a trip and wait a week, get the film developed and see what...I would've screwed every photo up three times over. And I will be honest, the digital element, the digital format changed that for me, and I was able to get immediate reinforcement. I could see what I liked, what I didn't like, and would change it. And I have a work ethic and a little bit of OCD that I don't mind working at it until I get it right. And sitting in that cafe in Missoula, I realized I had found something that I loved. And from that moment forward in 2005, I just put my heart and soul into it and tried to make every photo count so that I could possibly, possibly make a living at doing both, guiding and photography, and eventually, photography won out. And I feel like I'm the luckiest person on the planet.
Tom: When you were starting out, did you have any mentors? Did you have anybody who inspired you and gave you tips and so on when you were first starting to photograph?
Brian: Well, that's so funny. I said in 2005 I didn't own a camera, and I was fishing all the time, guiding all the time, but I was also working with a mutual friend of ours, Andy Anderson. And you and Andy did a beautiful book, "Salt," a while back. I don't need to remind you. Andy, in my mind, takes the best photographs that I have ever seen in my life. And I would be lying to you if I didn't say that when I look at his photos, even today, they just make me sick to my stomach they're so beautiful. And I mean that in the highest regard and as a compliment, as weird as it sounds, but that guy is crazy, ridiculously good. And Andy and I worked together quite a bit, kind of in the early 2000s, and what he provided me, Tom, was not really inspiration for photography, but for lack of a better word, I was a fishing model for him and he and I traveled to a number of places and he'd take the pictures and I'd catch the fish, and that was that.
And I had two young daughters, I was still living on a guide salary, I was working at Bridger Bowl in the winter. I didn't have money to travel. And working with Andy allowed me to see places that I never would've seen. And I wish, honestly, I had had more interest in photography at the time because I certainly would've paid attention more. I was in it 100% for the fishing. And we went to Argentina several times. We went to Belize, to the Bahamas. We traveled so many places and I was able to see how Andy worked, and I was able to see what he captured. But at the end of the day, it was a ticket to go and fish some really amazing places.
Tom: Yeah. We all like to have those scams to get to better fishing places. Don't we?
Brian: Right, right, right. And it wasn't quite a scam. And if anybody knows Andy, he does take beautiful photos, but it's not a scam. When you're traveling with him, it's work too.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. Hard work.
Brian: But I will say this, the one thing I learned from him, his style is he will see things, he has a gift in his head. He knows the shot that he wants beforehand and he will set it up for hours. And back then he was shooting with Polaroid, or he was shooting film, but with antique cameras and he would shoot a shot over and over and over again with Polaroid and then go to film. And I can remember in Belize one time him setting up a shot for hours while we sat in the watched tailing bonefish 75 feet away, and I was like that bird dog, the bird dog that's locked up in the truck that gets left behind and I was literally just howling.
But when I started shooting, I realized that that wasn't me. And from the get-go, my style, my approach to fly fishing photography, or really any photography is I just try to disappear and let the fishing happen. And those artful moments will surface. And I'm not smart enough to set up a photo. I'm not smart enough to say, "Okay, you stand here, and let's look here." But I can let the moment happen. I can let Camille Egdorf climb up a rock on the Madison River, and I can see the beauty of her searching for fish, and I can let that moment happen. And I have the physical ability to scramble up a rock cliff and get elevated and take a shot. That, to me, is what fly fishing is about. And it's real, it's authentic. And it's those moments that really make me happy when I'm able to capture them on a camera.
Tom: Yeah. And having worked with both you and Andy on shoots, you guys do have totally different philosophies. I know you and I went to the Catskills to...And actually, we...I almost forgot. Before I get into that, Brian and I are happy to announce that we just recently finished a book together. Here comes the commercial announcement. And the book's called "Trout." And it's a celebration of trout with mostly Brian's pictures and my essays interspersed in there. And honestly, it's a book that I think I'm more proud of than any other book I did. It's really...being able to write stuff in between your photographs was a great pleasure and a great honor. And we had a lot of fun doing it. And it's out now. It came out April 1st. It would make a great Father's Day gift. Just a little hint, hint there.
Brian: Tom, I was waiting for you to drop the hammer on our book. Yeah.
Tom: I almost forgot.
Brian: That is part of the business part of it that doesn't even seem like business. It's just you and I are very, very fortunate in that we are making a living at something that we absolutely love, and your business card says it all, "The chief enthusiast."
Tom: I don't have a business card. It's just in my email signature.
Brian: Well, wherever it is, I will just say, by golly, we are lucky people, and I never, ever, ever want to take that for granted.
Tom: Yeah. We both had a lot of luck. We both put in a lot of time. People ask me, "I want a job like yours. How do I get a job like yours?" And I say, "Well, work for the same company for 45 years and maybe you'll be able to do some cool stuff."
Brian: That is a funny, funny point because I don't think I would've been where I was as a photographer without 15 years of guiding under my belt.
Tom: Yeah.
Brian: I don't feel like I could have shown up and photographed friends who were in the industry, or traveled to the places. Tom, when I started out, I was just schlepping a camera around and I was still a guide and no one knew, no one cared that I was trying to make a living in photography. And I had a core group of clients that I could do hosted trips in the off-season with. And I would say, "Hey, let's go to New Zealand. Let's go see Carter Andrews in the Bahamas. Let's go see Ranson Travis down in Argentina at Patagonia River Guides." And these guys were, "Yep. Sign me up. I'm in." And the only difference was I would pack my camera gear and they'd pack their fly rods. And that allowed me to travel to some cool places while hosting trips, and again, just allowed me to fade into the background. And those guys, my clients, are still great friends, they believed in me, or they just wanted to see cool places, either way. But it was another element that if I hadn't built those relationships over years of guiding, it never would've happened as a photographer.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. And getting back to your style. So, doing this book I felt that we needed some Catskill photographs in there and you hadn't photographed...I don't think you'd ever photographed in the Catskills or you didn't have much. And so, you and I went down to the Catskills and I thought, "Oh, geez. I love these trips. They're very precious to me and I gotta hang around with a photographer and it's gonna really affect my fishing." And that's why I'd never be a good guide because I like to fish too much. And you did just disappear into the background, and I just got to fish and do whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted. And you got some great shots, you got some amazing shots, but you never...oh, actually once...and this is something that really resonated with me. Once you asked me to stand like 5 feet further to the right because I wasn't standing out from this point of land upriver and you just wanted a little bit better silhouette.
And that's the only time you asked me to do that, but it made me realize why...I've been shooting photographs a lot longer than you have, maybe before you were born, and my photographs are nowhere near the quality of yours. I can take a good technical photograph where the light's good and it's sharp, but it's that composition, I just don't have an eye. And you just have that eye for just lining things up perfectly without disturbing the angler. So, it's quite a talent.
Brian: Do you remember...That was such a fun trip. And for me, it was uncharted territory of being on the East Coast. And do you remember the hatch that we had?
Tom: Oh my God.
Brian: That was so prolific.
Tom: Yeah.
Brian: And both of us commented at the time that we had never seen this before, at least I hadn't, and I think you said the same.
Tom: I hadn't. Yeah.
Brian: The hatch was so thick that the geese were actually eating the Hendricksons off the water.
Tom: Yeah. Right in the middle of the trout, just gobbling them up right next to the trout. It was crazy.
Brian: That was an awesome spot. And we didn't float. You had your secret spot and we worked around and had amazing, amazing fishing.
Tom: Yeah, we got...
Brian: Do you...
Tom: Yeah, go ahead.
Brian: Tom, do you remember as we were...Well, how am I gonna say this? So, I was lining up, you were catching fish, after fish, after fish, and I was scampering up and down the bank and just trying to find the right angle. And it was one of those situations where the fishing, it was so abundant that I could actually be choosy as to where I was shooting from, so. And I just thought...I thought we had carte blanche. I thought it was you knew the landowners, and as I'm scampering around, I started to notice some flashes of color coming down the bank. And I see this figure taking photos, and I thought, "Well, this must be a good photo opp because somebody else is coming down to take pictures." Well, lo and behold, it's an old friend of yours and I'll let you take it over from here because it didn't shake out the way I was expecting, and she was certainly another photographer, but she was taking photos for a different reason. And I'm gonna just let you go from here and maybe I'll jump in.
Tom: Well, she didn't know it was me. She knows I like to fish in front of her house and she's invited me to park in her driveway and whatever, and fish. So, there was a posted sign, but it was knocked over. So, I conveniently ignored it and figuring I knew the land owner, I wasn't gonna get in trouble. And she came in hot. She was taking pictures so that she could prove it so that maybe she could take us to court or something for trespassing. That was the reason she was taking those pictures, and she was screaming. And I said, "It's me."
Brian: Hey, don't forget...
Tom: "It's me. It's me." And she didn't care. Maybe she forgot she gave me permission, but she was gonna give us a lecture. And...
Brian: And don't forget, she was wearing a housecoat.
Tom: Yeah.
Brian: She was wearing a housecoat. And Tom, I've gotta tell you, there have been more than a few times in my life as a youngster and into high school where I was chased home by my mom wearing a housecoat. So, when I saw an angry woman in a housecoat, I stood down, and that is the exact opposite of what you did. You negotiated with her in the coolest of terms and talked her down from the ledge while you were still catching fish. And the most beautiful part about it...and I wish I had the courage to actually take pictures, but I...
Tom: Yeah, you put that camera down. You weren't...
Brian: My arms were at my side, and yes, ma'am, it was right back to when I was 14 years old and the cop showed up at my house and there's my mom in the housecoat. And it was, "Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am." And you kept casting and catching fish while talking with her and talking her down from the ledge. And it was such a beautiful thing because even if we had gotten kicked off, you still had a half a dozen fish under your belt during the process, and that part of it, I truly admired that.
Tom: Well, I figured I couldn't get into too much trouble. I figured she wouldn't call the cops on me because she knew me, but I don't think she was ever totally satisfied. And the water was high and I normally don't walk on her land, and I don't park in her driveway because I don't wanna disturb her. I just walk up, legally walk up on the river bed, but the water was high and I had to cross her land to get into a spot that I wanted to get into because the fish were going crazy in there. So...
Brian: That has been burned into my memory [inaudible 01:06:44]. Just watching...
Tom: I wish you had taken some pictures. It would've been a wonderful memory to have.
Brian: [inaudible 01:06:50] in her housecoat with her camera at her side.
Tom: Oh, hang on, Jamie, make sure that you edit out the word...I don't wanna mention her name on the podcast.
Brian: Oh, that's awesome.
Tom: Yeah, we don't wanna mention any names here. So...
Brian: Okay.
Tom: All right, but you can continue.
Brian: Oh no, that was a wonderful trip. The other thing I will say, and I never have had this problem, but photographing you on any river is a bit of a distraction because people float by, and how many times did this...It happened more than, I would say three, four, five. Let me just say, every time we were on the water and we saw another person, they would stop and say, whether it was a guide or someone else, "Hey, hello, Mr. Rosenbauer. Hey Tom, how are you?" And it became this classic discourse. And Tom, you were a well-deserved, a recognizable figure on the rivers and obviously a wonderful advocate for the sport of fishing. But, by golly, it's like fishing with Oprah Winfrey out there.
Tom: And it's always so flattering that people recognize me and ask me how I'm doing and say they like the videos or the podcast, and people are always gracious about it. People are never annoying when they do it. They're just saying hi and being thankful. So, again, it's super flattering when that happens.
Brian: Well, I have photographed you and I have photographed guys on the bass tour and I will say this, the major difference between fly fishing and bass fishing is I didn't see you autographing any babies.
Tom: Oh, no, I've never done that.
Brian: You sound horrified like this is...It happens.
Tom: Wow.
Brian: Anyway, yeah, you didn't sign any babies with your Sharpie and I didn't see you actually sign any autographs, but it was pretty nice to watch people float by down the river and to recognize you and, without exception, it brought a smile to their face, and that part of it was fun to see.
Tom: Yeah. And on the rare occasion when I do float with my buddy, Sean, he's always teasing me because it's like he says, "Someday I'm gonna go, 'Da, da, da, da. Attention, Tom Rosenbauer is entering the pool. Please leave the pool.'" He gives me grief about it. I take a lot of good-natured rimming about it, but it's always fun. So, Brian, what one piece of advice would you give someone who either wants to go pro or... which is a difficult thing to do, a hard, hard thing to do, and it's hard work and it, there aren't many opportunities. But if someone wants to do that or just wants to take better fishing photographs, what's the one piece of advice you can give someone?
Brian: Oh gosh. I'm gonna start with the one piece of advice because if you're gonna make a living in fishing photography, you're either financially set already, or you're ready to grind out some hard years. But, gosh, in terms of the best advice I can give anybody is keep the camera in your hand and keep the rod in the case. And that was certainly my approach. Tom, I have traveled to some of the most amazing parts of the planet and I've never made a cast. And the reason being, if I pick up a fly rod, I'm not gonna set it down and hours will pass, and my camera gear will be left sitting in the boat. And starting, I'd like to say, the early days, I couldn't afford to do it, but the point is, I still can't afford to do it. If I pick up a fly rod, I'm gonna miss something really cool that's gonna happen, some beautiful moment.
And to be blunt, to be quite honest, when I was hosting these trips, there were times where I had $50 in my checking account, and I had to get a photo that was gonna pay for the trip, or I had to get a photo essay that was gonna cover the travel expenses. I was away from my family, away from home, and I had strictly a responsibility. And if I didn't produce, I wasn't going on another trip and there was a certain amount of pressure that was driving me, but there was also a passion to get that because just simple finance isn't gonna drive art. The need to make a living isn't going to create something beautiful.
But the need to make a living put enough pressure on me that I had the discipline that I needed to go out there and keep my eye to the camera and my finger just ready to go. And I just didn't allow myself to pick up a fly rod. And I took a lot of grief for that. People would say, "Well, you're scared, you can't fish." And I can fish, I can cast right-handed, I can cast left-handed, I can catch fish as much as I want to. But for me, where I am at in my life and to be able to get a beautiful photo is so much more important than catching another fish.
And there's a shot on the...I was on the cover of "The FlyFish Journal" a number of years ago. And it was Dan Rooster Leavens and Jorge we were fishing down at BahíaBlanca, and I was in a boat just drifting a hundred yards away from him. And Jorge had seen some tarpon rolling a few days before in this area. And there was nothing exciting about it. We're out in the middle of nowhere and just floating this line. And we saw a few tarpon rolling, but nothing was really happening. And I just stood there and just had the camera in my hand and would rather have been sitting in the boat, drinking a cold beer, but just watched, watched, watched.
And in a matter of seconds, Dan makes a cast, the fish follows, follows, and he sets the hook right at the boat, and we all thought it was a tarpon, turns out it was about a 6-foot barracuda that ate the fly and burned off 70 feet line in a second, and then jumped out of the water higher than I've ever seen a fish jump. And I shot, shot, shot, shot. It was the craziest image. It's Rooster in the front of the boat, hooked up to this fish that is, I don't know if it's 6 feet out of the water, 8 feet out of the water, 10 feet. It was such a crazy moment. Jorge is beside himself on the poling platform. And Dana was in the middle of the boat with her arms raised up at the sky. And it was a moment that was probably, I don't know, 45 minutes in the making, but I was just sitting on a boat, looking through an eyepiece and hoping something cool was gonna happen, and it did. And I was fortunate enough to be there.
So, gosh, to get back to your original question, Tom, my advice, man, if you wanna make a go out of it in fly fishing or any fishing photography, you obviously have a love for fishing, but you either have to fish or take photos, at least for me, I can't do both, and keep the camera in your hand. And that's the old adage of the street photographer, it's [inaudible 01:17:07] and be there.
Tom: Yeah.
Brian: Get out and do it and keep the camera in your hand and shoot what you love to see.
Tom: Yeah. The few times, the very few times that I've put the rod down and spent a day with a camera, my images were much better, I have to admit. Nowhere near like yours because, again, I don't have the eye, but that's the best piece of advice that I think you can give anyone is put the rod down, put it away, leave it home. And you never fished when we were in the Catskills, even during that amazing hatch, you never even asked to pick up a rod, you just kept clicking away.
Brian: Well, that was such a...And I even look back on that and I look back on every trip and I stop and think about the shots that I didn't take. And that haunts me too, of, what if we had done this or what if we had...? And not that we set anything up, but just that hatch, it was so prolific and so thick. And I think about the different angles I could have gotten with an underwater camera, and that's the kind of stuff that haunts me. The half in, half out, the fly is drifting to the lens, and the stuff you don't think about at the time, you think about on the airplane ride home, but it's just like hooking a nice fish and losing it. That's what keeps you coming back. That's what keeps you coming back to fishing is that quest for perfection or the quest for completion.
Tom: Are there any other stories from pictures in the book? Because people love stories. Are there any other stories about some of the images in the book that were memorable or interesting that you can think of?
Brian: Oh gosh, there are so many. And the beautiful part about my job, Tom, is that I get to meet amazing people, guides, anglers that do this for a living and you're not a fishing guide unless you have a sense of humor or you don't dedicate yourself to a career in fishing unless you really enjoy life. And so, so there are...Gosh, there are countless stories,as I, like, thumb through the photos of the book. But one of my favorites...and the photo is early in the book. And we've been talking about me not setting up photos, but I was on Rock Creek, and this was a shoot for Orvis, and on Rock Creek, there's a swinging bridge that is just so cool. It's a footbridge. And as soon as I saw it, I was like, "Okay, we need to get all three of you guys out there. And I just wanna take a few photos of this. If you guys, just before you go fishing, just checking off the water." And they had to cross the bridge anyway.
But as we were gearing up that morning and it was Jimmy Lambros was heading up the shoot, and I've worked with Jimmy a bunch and he has such a great sense of humor, and he's such a fun guy to work with. And Mark Elliot was there as our local guide as well as Kinsley and we show up and we're putting our waiters on and Kinsley has disappeared. And I look at Jimmy and I go, "Hey, Jimmy, what rod are you fishing today?" And he goes, "Oh, I'm gonna throw the 4-weight." And then he walked away. And as soon as he walked away, I pulled out this little mister, and I don't know if you've heard of this, it's a product that Amazon sells, and it's called Liquid Ass. Tom, like the name says, it's a little spritzer bottle, and this is so foul, the material in here. You can imagine the flunked-out chemistry student that has come up with a synthetic replacement for the poop smell. This stuff is disgusting, and somebody had turned me onto it and I've had so much fun. It's the best fun you can have. I think that I bought it for like $7. I think it's $12 now, and I'm sorry [inaudible 01:22:15].
But Jimmy said, "I'm fishing the 4-weight," and he turned and he walked away. And so, I pull out the Liquid Ass and I spray, spray, spray. I sprayed it right on the cork handle of his rod. And as soon as I do that...So, he's gone, but Mark Elliott, he's 20 feet away. And after the first spritz, Mark goes, he goes, "Oh God. Oh, God." He literally thought I had soiled myself. And right then, Kinsley walks up and I feel so horrible. She's such a nice and beautiful person and added so much to this shoot. What I didn't know was that Kinsley was in the outhouse and had just come back. And the smell is in the air and poor Kinsley, her face turned purple, just absolutely turned purple. And she thought it was somehow on her. And she's looking at the shoulder straps of her waders, and she's looking at her feet, and right then Jimmy walks up...and it's happening so fast.
Jimmy walks up and he grabs his rod...and he had just put his waders on. He grabs his rod and something's amiss, and he brings the rod up in his left hand, he's holding it, and he pulls his waders away from his chest. So, the rod, it's inches from his nose. And he pulls the waders away from his chest and he goes, "Woo-wee." He goes, "These waders are foul." And I have tears, tears streaming down my face, and I best as I could, I said, "Okay, I'm gonna need some shots of you guys just walking across the bridge." And I said, "When you get halfway out there, just stop." Well, I am dying laughing and I go down by the river and I'm shooting up at them on the bridge and I'm shooting with a wide-angle lens so I can't really see what's going on through the camera. And I'm, picture, picture, picture, and fast forward, three days later, as I'm editing photos, one of the outtakes of this shot is a picture of Jimmy with both hands under his nose, sniffing his fingers, like remember Mary Katherine Gallagher from "Saturday Night Live?"
Tom: Yeah.
Brian: And he's sniffing both fingers. Kinsley is turning around and she's got her boot lifted up. She's looking at the bottom of her shoes and poor Mark Elliot is just like, "What are you guys doing?" So, I'm sorry. That was a shameless plug for Liquid Ass, but that was...I don't know. There are so many, just as I look through the photos in the book that we did together. Gosh, for me, it's a celebration of just family of friends. Just great, great memories on every single page. Yeah, the Rock Creek swinging bridge, which that photo...and it is the edited photo where all three of them are actually concentrating on the river, but just know that Jimmy is wondering what in the heck is on his hands.
Tom: Well, I'm gonna do two things after we finish this podcast. I'm gonna go look at that picture in the book and I'm gonna order a bottle of Liquid Ass because people that have fished with me know I do enjoy practical jokes. So, I'm gonna...
Brian: Well, the cork handle, it's an excellent material in which to utilize it on.
Tom: Yeah. It's nice and absorbent, so it'll stay on there for a while. Yeah. I have a couple of people that I'm gonna do that too. Well, Brian, I want to thank you for taking the time. It's always fun talking to you, and I can't say fishing with you. I know you love to fish, but you and I have been on striper trips and false albacore trips and trout trips, and you've never picked up a rod and I just admire that because I know how much you wanna pick up a rod. So, I think that the biggest takeaway from this is if you wanna take great pictures, you gotta leave the rod at home.
Brian: Gosh, that sounds so...and I guarantee you, as soon as I say that, there are a gazillion photographers that go out there and catch all kinds of fish. Godspeed. That's all I have to say. I can't do it. But Tom, as always, it's great spending time with you even over the telephone. Looking forward to our next trip, and yeah, give me a call next time you're gonna go out carp fishing. I will leave the camera at home and we'll just go fish a little bit.
Tom: That sounds good. That sounds really good. Well, we've been talking to world-class photographer, Brian Grossenbacher, co-author of the new book "Trout," again, a great Father's Day gift. And Brian, thanks so much for taking the time, and thanks for telling those stories. I still have tears in my eyes from laughing. So, I appreciate that.
Brian: Thank you. I'm sorry for anyone that I have offended, but by golly, if you drop $12 on Liquid Ass, you can get more than that. I guarantee you you'll get $12 worth of smiles out of it.
Tom: Maybe we can put it in the Orvis catalog. What do you think?
Brian: Yeah, maybe right next to the dog bed section or the men's polos. I, I don't think it's gonna happen, Tom.
Tom: I don't think so either.
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