What's in a picture?
by: David Coulson 4/10/2012
Pictures are core to my writing. They illustrate and complement my work. In fact, whenever I fish, or do most any activity actually, I have a camera(s) with me.
It has been said that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” There is a lot of truth there, and it is because a picture can convey so much meaning. That is why I think it behooves us to ask what a picture will say when we take it, and before we share it, to review it and make sure that’s the message we wanted conveyed. Before sharing an image, remember that the context in which a picture is shared often guides the viewer’s perception and interpretation of the photograph.
Pictures play a major role on FishExplorer.com. We use them on the lake pages to illustrate boat ramps, campgrounds and other features. Member submitted pictures are shown for each lake/river, further helping folk know what they might expect when they visit the water. Every fish species has a representative photograph or illustration to assist anglers in identifying their catch. Writers are encouraged to provide images to illustrate their work. Bloggers and forum posters have the ability to add images to support their writings. Members may add images to the gallery (catch and release only please), and to the forum.
Interestingly, images don’t convey the same message to everyone, and, depending on the context, they may say something totally different than what was intended. I see this on the forum frequently. To illustrate my point consider a picture of forty crappie, if the forum poster said, “I had a great day at lake XYZ catching crappie,” and posted the picture, it is quite likely someone will point out that the limit is twenty. However, if the poster said, “My three buddies and I had a great day at lake XYZ catching crappie,” likely nothing will be said about limits. Simply, without context from the photographer, the viewer will supply their own.
I remember the days when hunters would return from the field with deer strapped across the hood of their vehicle. Fortunately that practice has ceased and for good reasons, one the practice was not good for the meat. But more importantly, it conveyed a negative image, especially to the non-hunting public. Some fish pictures, by their very nature tend to convey a negative image to many, including myself. For example, I really don’t appreciate pictures of stringers of fish. I realize there’s nothing wrong with harvesting fish, and I have, and still do “fill a stringer” now and then. But it’s not an image I will take and share. While some see large fish kills as proof of success, many, including myself, tend to see them as excessive kill, especially if the poster indicates they’re doing this regularly. Further, how does a stringer of fish help me catch fish? Actually, they tend to discourage me as I might see the water as being overfished. And many shut down sharing information if they think it’s going to be used to abuse the resource. The point is, if you know others are likely to react negatively to your photo, why post it? Ask yourself why is it few publishers print pictures of “stringers full of fish”?
Other images depending on the accompanying text, such as stiff armed fish coupled with dubious size/weight claims; fish covered with dirt or fingers in the gills coupled with stating the fish was released; photo-shopped pictures that are purely bragging, are but a few examples of images that will often draw negative reactions. The point is simply, why put up an image that you know will draw someone’s ire? If it wasn’t your purpose, think about why your image got the reactions it did, and learn from it. If stirring things up is the purpose, please don’t do it here. I don’t enjoy having to clean up the mess.
I long ago learned that “jerking people’s chain” to make them mad is easy. The trick is to make my point (picture or words) without irritating them and turning them away. Because once they’re angry and go away in a huff, I’ve lost any chance of getting them to listen to my point of view.
So I encourage everyone to contribute images to Fish Explorer, be it articles, blogs, gallery, or forum. I just ask that you give some thought as to the message you’re hoping to convey and keep it positive, as generally there is little, if anything, to be gained from images that garner negative reactions.
Blog content © David Coulson
Coyute, CO 4/10/2012 9:45:09 AM
Good blog. " And many shut down sharing information if they think it’s going to be used to abuse the resource." Unfortunately, many have. In the meantime, many of those that do still post pictures are the the stiff armers, braggarts, over harvesters/chumps and those that post a picture saying, 'here's a fish I caught' with no useful information. I figure many won't take heed to the advice given here, but hopefully some will.
bluecollarguy, CO 4/10/2012 9:47:52 AM
Thumbs up to your comment Coyute-
paulent, CO 4/10/2012 10:04:10 AM
the only time I have submitted a pic was with camera pointed into the water (no background), with no statement as to where, how big, species, or when. I figure that the other fishermen that I am talking to will know what they are looking at. There is no good reason to brag about anything!
ZZZ, CO 4/10/2012 10:25:51 AM
Good points Dave. Anybody who has been on this site for more than five minutes knows that certain photos will generate a lot of negative comments. I agree with Coyute too, you don't have to give a specific location, but general water conditions and bait type and presentation info impresses me a lot more than "hey look at this big fish I caught".
moosegoose, CO 4/10/2012 11:08:27 AM
I find it amazing how our eyes are drawn to certain details in a picture. If someone has their finger knuckle deep into a gill it is like a "train wreck" that you cannot stop watching.
BITE ME, CO 4/10/2012 11:12:20 AM
Great read Dave and I totally agree, But for some reason I very seldom take photos and in the end wish I did. I for one don't like photos when they edit the back ground, If you want a place to keep unknown then don't post a pic only the story of the day is cool.
JKaboom, CO 4/10/2012 5:33:41 PM
Good read Dave items to consider for sure :)
Browns Hunter, CO 4/10/2012 5:51:27 PM
Good Blog, Dave.
You should have included a picture, too!
droolr, CO 4/11/2012 4:25:56 PM
i don of post pictures of dead fish often, If a large fish is missing an eye or is sick i will keep it, I post pictures to prove what iam catching and what iam catching them on
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