Thoughts on Comfort

by Fire Girl Jess on March 24, 2017

“The best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
It’s all a learning experience, and sometimes we come away with cuts, missing toenails and random health issues. But it’s always worth the story — and the images — in the end. And it’s always, always better than sitting at home.

In the past week I’ve had a couple of very interesting conversations that segued onto the topic of “comfort.” One friend, well settled into the traditional adult lifestyle (married, two dogs, kid on the way and a house with the white picket fence) espoused the virtue of, as he put it, “relaxing into 9-to-5 and living on the weekends.” He’s totally happy at a desk job, comfortable with the work and his social set there. More power to him, honestly. There’s a genuine happiness that comes from people who find their rhythm, and it’s a pretty cool thing to see.

Another friend is in between jobs, and desperately missing the routine. He’s craving security and routine — one some level, we all are — and reasons that, with what’s going on in the world (we’re living in some odd times) he wants some safety. It was a funny discussion over coffee, one that got even more animated as more caffeine was imbibed. He doesn’t mind settling into the system, he noted with half-chagrin. He just wants that security.

But, really, what is security? And at what price does it come? At some point there’s a price for everything, good or bad; and I have to reason the price for security is, on some level, submission. You want the full package? The fancy house and new car and classic “dream” lifestyle? Sure, work hard enough and it can be yours. That’s the beauty of it. And the cost is something some people will happily pay and never look back. Are you willing to let little things go; to ignore obstacles that once may have bothered you simply by their existence?

There’s a trade-off, one way or the other. And often the other side is pretty damn sobering, too.

Retaining the ability to work for oneself, to chase projects and explore new opportunities, isn’t comfortable. There’s a lot of shifting; things stay pretty fluid and more often than not, you’re left lying awake in bed at night wondering what’s next. How it all comes together. It’s 70-hour workweeks that become normal and 5AM alarm clocks. There are so many hours of waiting and wondering and working in exchange for the few, rare hours where you feel like “yeah, I got this.”

It’s also the ability to build your own work, to make your own choices and to fight your own battles. Uncomfortable, sure. Liberating? Hell yes.

So take your pick. Each side has its demons, each side has its benefits, and whatever you choose there’s no easy answer. Decide what you need, what you’re willing to go without and what really matters. It’s a choice that will be different for each individual.


FlyLife Magazine Australia: You Never Know

by Fire Girl Jess on March 2, 2017

Samoa, fishing, fly fishing, FlyLife, magazine, editorial, photographs, photos

Sometimes it happens, and you never know until you arrive at a location and get the lines wet. You make the most of it, and keep trying until you’re about ready to board the airplane back home. As all too often seems to be the case, our most productive day was the final day; dodging thunderstorms and chasing mahi-mahi offshore with Fatu, the son of a local chieftain.”

Thrilled to see this piece with Australia’s FlyLife Magazine make it into print. I really enjoy working with this publication, and the guys did a fantastic layout with this story and images from last spring’s escapades in Samoa. This was a rough shoot all around; things didn’t go as planned (as they somehow never do), fishing was tough, and I came down with a bomber flu midway through the shoot. We rallied, got the images (I bought a boatload of meds on my layover in Auckland on the way home) and the story has been told with YETI, Outside Online, and now FlyLife.

As always, thanks to the editors at FlyLife who put up with my random queries and meandering way of storytelling.

Samoa, fishing, fly fishing, FlyLife, magazine, editorial, photographs, photos

{ 1 comment }

Adventure.Travel: The Road Through Yellowstone

by Fire Girl Jess on February 27, 2017

Sometimes taking the road less traveled does make all the difference.

Perhaps the great Western writer Zane Grey said it best when he penned the words “I need this wild life, this freedom.” One can only imagine the literary giant was speaking of the unbroken Western lands he so loved to capture on paper.

The West isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s big sweeping places, stark mountains rising to kiss the clouds, endless sagebrush ranges dotted with herds of grazing bison and elk. It’s rushing rivers, so crystal clear you can see the rocks lying beneath, rocks that have been there for ages past and have seen the settlement of this rugged country. It’s weather that can change in the blink of an eye; smoky, hot summers and dark, cold winters. It’s a hard land, one that breeds people equally suited to the harshness of the landscape.”

Happy to see this story shared again over on the Adventure Travel Trade Association‘s website! This was a fantastic shoot for Orvis with friends old and new, through some of my favorite territory in the West.

Read the full piece online now!


On the Gear Side: Branded USBs

by Fire Girl Jess on February 24, 2017

When the folks over at USB Memory Direct reached out to me a month ago, I initially deleted the message, thinking it was one of many junk emails taking up space that morning. But then they reached out again… and again… and finally we connected. They’d seen that I was teaching / presenting more, and wanted to send me a selection of USBs with my new logo on them. I had been looking for something to function as a “leave behind” with clients and to give to students with homework / files, so the conversation was timely.

A few emails and several weeks later, and a package arrived on my desk. After loading files on and off of the drives, I have to say I’m impressed with the USBs. I ended up choosing the Scout in mahogany (we had a mahogany drift boat growing up, so there’s something there…) and, admittedly, the drives look pretty sharp. A few of these are already on their way to clients, but I wanted to share them with you, in case anyone’s looking for branded gear (I think I’ve had the branded USB conversation alone with two or three people over the past year.)

Physically, the drives are small and unobtrusive; easy to tuck into a pocket or a camera bag. I especially fancy the magnets that help fasten the cap on; it gives me confidence that there’s a lesser chance I’ll lose the cap while in some third world airport (it’s happened, unfortunately). I anticipate the 8G size to be manageable and easy for use, and look forward to getting more of these in client’s hands!

  • Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Scout USBs for free from USB Direct in consideration for a gear review.


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!