Winter in Montana

by Fire Girl Jess on February 17, 2017

Rainbow trout caught while fly fishing in winter on Gallatin River, Montana.

It’s winter in Montana, the doldrums of the year. I’m in the midst of a long run of computer work, and my brain is telling me it would far rather be out on assignment somewhere. Necessary evil, and all that, and once spring rolls around the travel schedule is looking busy.

So now it’s the time for prep and the business side of things. Days are spent chasing logistics, logging long hours at the gym (perfecting that swimming stroke that an old shoulder injury protests rather loudly), catching up on a bit of writing and filling out grant applications for projects in the works. Every time I seem to check one thing off the list, two more seem to pop up in its place and, to be honest, it’s not very fun. (Again, necessary evil.)

So some days it’s crucial to leave the computer behind and just get outside. Water always resets my brain, and all it takes is a bit of wading and a few casts to feel like everything’s going to sort itself out. During a rather cold and grey session last week on the Gallatin, this healthy rainbow came nicely to hand, and minutes later one of his whitefish buddies fell for the same fly. The river was gurgling, the wind was blowing something fierce, and all was right with the world.


New Clips: Backcountry Journal and Orvis

by Fire Girl Jess on February 4, 2017

We’re in the winter doldrums here in Montana, which means it’s that time of year… paperwork, bookkeeping, and all the not-so-fun parts of running a business. There are some pretty exciting things in the works for 2017, and I’m trying to make the most of this “computer-based” time to check a few things off the to-do list, and escaping as often as I can to the gym, the mountains, and — of course — the river.

A couple of new clips have bounced out in the past few weeks; Orvis is still making use of images from a Montana women’s photo shoot I produced and shot for them nearly two years ago. This image has been making the rounds on emails and on the company’s website (hello, homepage!); great to see assets have a long shelf life!

I was also pleased to be a bee to collaborate with the solid team over at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) for a few images in their most recent magazine. If you’re not familiar with BHA, spend a bit of time cruising their site and seeing the important work the Missoula-based organization is tackling. This is a strong organization doing some great work, and their Backcountry Journal is a must-read.

More news to come soon. If you haven’t looked into the upcoming On-the-Water Photo Workshops I’m helping teach — check it out! We’re heading to Belize in May and will be on Idaho’s famed Henry’s Fork River in August. This is a great time to practice both your fishing and your photography skills, and to enjoy some of the most beautiful country around!


We had so much fun in Belize teaching an On-the-Water Photography Workshop for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, that we’ve decided to add more dates for 2017. I’ll be teaching in Belize and in Idaho, but we’ve also added a Cuba workshop in October.

Ambergris Caye – Out-Island Workshop
June 2017

August 2017

October 2017

We’ll cover topics including:

• Creative composition for outdoor photographers
• Effectively using circular polarizers and ND filters
• Underwater photography: equipment and techniques
• Night photography: stars and light painting
• Proper fish handling techniques and shooting great “hero” shots
• Packing and travel advice for outdoor photographers
• Recommended “kit” and equipment lists for fishing photographers
• Sunrise and sunset shooting techniques
• Travel photography: Food, fishing, people, places and things
• File handling: downloading, labeling, editing and organizing
• Social media techniques for the independent outdoor photographer
• Nighttime photo walks
• Daily (evening) photo critique for all participants

Who Should Attend:
Everyone! Whether you just purchased your first camera and are wondering what all those buttons are for, or you’re a seasoned amateur to intermediate photographer wanting to make the most of your fishing and travel photography, this workshop will advance your skill level and improve your photos in the field. With several working professional photographers instructing, we’re able (and happy) to teach and accommodate photographers of any skill level. The diversity of instruction and a curriculum designed specifically for outdoor, travel and fishing photography, this workshop will help you to “up your game” and make the most of your future fishing trips.

Have questions on photography gear? Wondering how to juggle fishing gear and camera equipment in the boat? Do your fishing photos always lack that something special? Want to learn how to best showcase the unique species you’re going to chase in 2017?

This is an awesome chance to get some in-the-field experience with professional, working photographers. Come join us on the water, and level up both your photography and your fishing skills! Email me or call for more information!


Wrapping Up 2016

by Fire Girl Jess on December 31, 2016

This year has been a wild one. I had a day of flights across the U.S. earlier this week, and found myself wondering just how in the hell we’re already nudging into 2017. It seems like just last month I was prepping to spend the entire month of January on the road, taking pictures and telling stories. Somehow over the course of the past year my calendar tells me I’ve ridden Mi-8s and chased tarpon in Cuba, dodged overly-friendly sharks and photographed mahi-mahi in Samoa, trekked into the Montana backcountry on horseback in pursuit of native Yellowstone cutthroat, survived helping put on the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Orlando, and a number of other adventures that still kind of make me tilt my head and think, “oh, that happened.”

Bozeman is… Bozeman. For now it serves as a home base; a place to do laundry, clean camera gear and edit images before the next project. I won’t be here forever by any means, but for the moment I’m working and learning while partnering with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. Both the fly-fishing industry and the greater creative world are quirky ones, and I find when the two combine things to get weird. And fun. As I enter into my eighth year of working as a freelance outdoor photographer and journalist, I’m learning the most important thing is to be able to laugh it off. Always be able to laugh it off. And put things into perspective.

My work is still fairly evenly divided to photography and writing — I don’t think I’d ever be able to leave on behind, and it’s a productive package to offer clients. Both aspects leverage to tell a complete story… there are some things hard to put into words but possible to capture with the camera, and some feelings that can never be fully articulated through the camera, but a few well-chosen words can get the point across. It’s forever a game of give-and-take, and one I’m learning to thoroughly enjoy.

I love fly-fishing — I’ve grown up in this world and will never leave it — but I find fishing has become more of a reason to travel than anything. It takes me to places I’d otherwise never see; introduces me to people I’d otherwise never meet. It’s a funny old world, as the saying goes, and I’m incredibly grateful for the incredible people I’ve been able to meet in 2016. So many incredible people from so many walks of life… so many stories to be told! I’ll forever be thankful for the people who let me know their world for a day, for a week — however long the assignment takes.

And thanks to the clients, editors, partners, anglers, and everyone else who makes this odd little way of life possible. It wouldn’t be possible without all of you, and here’s to many new projects in the year to come!

At the end of the day, it’s all about telling the stories that need to be told. And I look forward to seeing what stories 2017 brings!



Havana Streets in Martha Stewart Weddings

by Fire Girl Jess on December 12, 2016

It was a chilly, rainy day in Havana this past January when, during an afternoon layover in between fly-fishing destinations while shooting for Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, I wandered across this small courtyard and lovely statue. The rain kept the streets largely empty, and I swear the fresh drizzle perked up the vivid colors of the buildings even more.

Whenever I’m traveling for assignment, I always try to find time to explore the local area… even though most days I’m on some form of water. Some day I’d like to go back and spend more than a few hours wandering Havana’s streets, but this little taste before flying out to the next fishing destination had me hooked.

Happy to see this image appear as a full page in Martha Stewart Weddings, and also on the company’s website.


Moscow Foto Awards Show in Crimea

by Fire Girl Jess on December 8, 2016

I was thrilled in June to learn I was a winner for the Moscow International Foto Awards with a Montana High School Rodeo photography essay I shot here in Bozeman several years ago. We had torrential spring rain the night before the first go-round, creating a veritable “mud soup” in the arena, but the Montana men and women took it in stride and got it done.

To date, this is one of my favorite rodeos I’ve photographed, and this summer it was fun to return to the same arena to shoot the Bozeman Stampede PRCA Rodeo.

I just found out the images will be displayed at a gallery show in the Franco Crimean Republican Scientific Library in Simferopol, Crimea, 13th December 2016 – 10th January 2017. It’s always thrilling to have images showcase in a new country, especially these so close to my heart as these! Thanks to the Moscow International Foto Awards team, and everyone who has made this show possible.