Meeting the Adventure Travel Industry in Coeur d’Alene

by Fire Girl Jess on April 17, 2017

This past week I was thrilled to attend the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s AdventureELEVATE event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It made for an intense few days of networking, meetings, and making some pretty awesome new connections. It’s rare when I can sit down and meet with delegates from 16 different countries all in one action-packed day! Suffice to say, this was a hyper-productive event and I can’t wait to see what comes of the connections made this past week.

Networking aside, perhaps the thing that stuck with me the most after the event was the greater overview of travel. The why. Why do we travel, what draws us to leave the comfort and security of home and seek out new places and new experiences? We talked about how identity ties to travel, why certain people are drawn to certain experiences, and — perhaps most powerfully — the idea of traveling more and buying less.

But it’s the why that really sticks… why do we do it?

I love airports. They’re a mess — loud, dirty, and chaotic. People coming, going, passing through. There’s nothing restful about an airport. But you know what’s beautiful? People are changing. Every time you step outside of that comfort zone, of that 9-to-5 predictable routine, things happen. We’re forced to think again. To adapt. To flux. To think. We change.

Every time I’ve traveled — within the States or internationally — I come back a different person. I’ve seen things. Met people. Tried new experiences. Sure, maybe it sucked at the time. Things go wrong sometimes. But, at the end of the day, I’ve grown. I’ve bent and fluxed and maybe broken a bit — scars mean we survived, and I have a hell of a lot of them — but I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was when I boarded the plane in Bozeman.

It was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who famously said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

Cheers to new dimensions, then.

Thanks to the Adventure Travel Trade Association for having me out to Idaho — look forward to cooking up some more cool things soon.


Thrilled to partner with the Matador Network to talk about why we do this weird travel-fish-adventure thing:

“The allure of fly-fishing takes many forms. It’s said anglers go through an arc of reasons why they fish — beginners enjoy simply being on the water. Intermediate anglers start counting numbers of fish in a day. Advanced intermediates count fish but also start “headhunting” — looking for that large trophy fish that will make his Instagram shot the talk of the day. Advanced anglers travel, looking for exotic species they’ve only seen in images of movies. And then the lifetime anglers — the ones who will never give it up — those diehard souls come full circle and just fish for the sheer joy of being on the water.

Personally, fly-fishing has been a vehicle to see the world. I’ve worked in many aspects of the industry, and now find a home in photographing adventure travel and fly-fishing around the world. Fishing is an excuse to travel; a reason to meet people I otherwise would never have chanced upon, to see waters and villages I’d never otherwise have a reason to travel towards, to experience the world in an entirely new way. And sure, somehow I always manage to pick up a rod when on location. But it’s rarely the “fishy” memories that resurface… it’s the random airport meetings in small-town Belize, the laughter in remote Russian tundra camps, and the giddiness that comes from chasing a storm on a flats skiff and, thoroughly drenched, wondering what the world is going to throw at me next.”

See the images and the stories here.


OWAA Member Spotlight

by Fire Girl Jess on April 3, 2017

I’m thrilled to be featured in the Outdoor Writer Association of America’s member spotlight today. Click over to read about random nicknames, what I can juggle (it’s limited) and what I’d do if I won the lottery.

Big thanks to the OWAA team for the feature, and for all the hard work they do to support outdoor communicators!


Photography Tips in TROUT Magazine

by Fire Girl Jess on March 30, 2017

“Don’t be afraid to fill the frame! If this fish was half the size, this would be a far less compelling image.”

Thanks to the gang at Trout Unlimited‘s TROUT Magazine for the opportunity to share a few photography tips in the spring issue! This was a fun one to write, and really happy to share the space with some truly fantastic shooters. Give it a read, then leave a comment with your best fish photography tip.

If you’re looking for some one-on-one instruction to up your fishing and travel photography skills, shoot me a note about the Photo Workshops I’m teaching with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures! (We have fun.)


Montana Springtime

by Fire Girl Jess on March 29, 2017

It’s (slowly) beginning to look like spring here in Montana, and I’ve been logging some miles this week traveling around the state for various shoots. There’s no time for thinking like time on the road, and it’s good for the soul to just load the camera up and go.  April kicks off what is shaping up to be a relatively busy travel schedule — trying to enjoy the time at home while I can.


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

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