Stress Relief 101

by Fire Girl Jess on October 30, 2017

It’s been a hectic few weeks here in Big Sky Country. Changes are afoot — good ones, stay tuned for more! — and my default mode to manage stress apparently involves too much time at the gym, unhealthy amounts of coffee and knocking out a large amount of writing assignments. It’s all good; 2017 has been an interesting year and the final few months of the year are promising to be even more interesting.

That said, sometimes it’s important to get outside and away from it all. In preparation for the opening of rifle season, spent a windy (but blissfully sunny) afternoon with my brother out in Paradise Valley last week sighting in rifles and getting in a bit of target practice. It’s always been oddly soothing, and breathing exercises — whether they’re in the yoga studio or looking down a rifle scope — are helpful when they world’s seemingly sprinting a million miles an hour. I left the cameras at home, just wanting to enjoy a bit of down time, but ended up snagging a couple of iPhone photos (with my dinosaur iPhone 5) of the autumn color.

A friend has been nagging me on the importance of taking a bit of mental “down time,” and it’s an interesting thought. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the mindset of trying to jam in everything possible into every waking hour, especially in freelance life. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, it’s as simple as that… there’s no showing up tired to work one day and simply coasting though without really doing much. So I’m working on the idea of blocking out at least one afternoon a week to step away from the computer, leave the camera in the Pelican case, and getting away from work. Easier said than done. At this point, airplane rides are my down time (who else loves to fly simply for the uninterrupted reading and movie-watching?). Early morning gym sessions are also gloriously uninterrupted thinking time, and it’s easier to climb out of bed in the darkness if I know I’ve got an hour to myself of just thinking (and sweating) time.

Churning through writing / editing a catalog project for a client (working on catalogs always feels like coming home, somehow) early this week, then heading out to the Northeast for a two-day business trip. Then back to Bozeman for a few weeks, and maybe a bit of fall hunting / fishing / image-making. Stay tuned.


Backcountry Lake Fishing Image in American Angler

by Fire Girl Jess on October 20, 2017

Always fun to see what makes it into the pages of American Angler. There are some full-length image / written features coming up, but snuck this image into the October / November issue in the meantime. Angler Jake Wells made the most of a hot afternoon fishing a lake during a horsepacking backpack trip into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness last summer with the awesome folks at Absaroka-Beartooth Outfitters.

It was a hot July day; we’d worked our way along Hellroaring Creek, fishing deep holes and pushing through slow sections. Outfitters Cameron dropped us downriver and took the horses upstream… the Montana version of valet parking. At one point I put the camera down and went eight fish for eight casts — the fishing was that good — and was once again reminded there’s something special about healthy, hungry Yellowstone Cutthroat who will eat (or attempt to eat) anything in their line of vision. Afterward, we mounted up and headed uphill to this lake, where we fished for a bit and then went for a swim in the frigid waters (it’s a good day shooting when I can grab the underwater housing and swim out into any water to photograph an angler back on the shore).

Just another day at work in the wild country of Montana.


I had fun penning these two pieces for the October / November issue of Outdoors Unlimited, the publication of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. OWAA is a fantastic organization doing strong work to engage, support and encourage the growth of outdoor journalists in the States.

The first piece (page 6), a re-run of a blog feature I wrote several months ago, talks about the often-not-so-glamorous realities of being a traveling fly-fishing photographer (or really any outdoor photographer). Spoiler: it’s not all glamorous locations, big fish and flashy resorts. As I noted in the original piece: “In between the monster fish, beautiful locations and far-flung locales, there’s plenty of sleeping on grimy airport floors, getting tested for tropical diseases and eating whatever food might be on hand (readily identifiable or not. When in Rome, and all that).” Hopefully this serves as a bit of a reality check for the myriads of aspiring outdoor journalists who only see the romantic side of the industry. Don’t get me wrong — it’s an incredible way to explore the world, push boundaries and meet new people — but it comes at a significant cost.

The second piece (page 8) details one of the most surprising destinations I’ve visited in the past year. Southwest Louisiana is a veritable treasure trove of adventures — both culinary and outdoors – and is far enough removed from the glitz and glamor of New Orleans to offer a real slice of Louisiana life. I visited this spring, and was blown away by the region and, even more so, by its people. I’m planning a return visit next spring for Contraband Days, a festival celebrating the area’s impressive pirate history (I can’t be the only one who grew up on tales of Jean Lafitte.) I’d recommend a visit to anyone looking for a little something out of the ordinary.


Talking Backcountry Essentials for DIY Fishing

by Fire Girl Jess on October 4, 2017

I had fun penning this piece for, talking about a selection of some of my favorite gear for backcountry escapades.

“Fall in the backcountry can provide a clean break from the “bumper car” experience on frontcountry rivers. But those un-pressured cutties and eager brookies must be earned. And you must be prepared to work. By the time boots hit the dirt, most experienced backcountry anglers have figured out their fishing gear. For creeks, the typical kit includes 3- to 4-weight rods and assorted topwater bugs. For lakes, heavier rods, intermediate or sinking lines, and a few trusted streamers might make the trip.”

Read the full feature here.


Campaign Images for Costa Sunglasses

by Fire Girl Jess on September 30, 2017

Two years ago I joined a team of anglers, marketing pros and lodge experts for an expeditionary shoot on a small, remote atoll in French Polynesia. We came away with a stellar story, new friends and the images for Costa’s 2016 campaign. I was happy to see an email roll into my inbox yesterday with a familiar image; Costa is using imagery from the shoot for the launch of their #OneCoast campaign. Always happy to see clients continually return to imagery!



Behind-the-Scenes Look at Fly Fishing Hokkaido

by Fire Girl Jess on September 26, 2017

Solution for mucky-bottom wading with dual cameras… stuff one in the waders.

Sometimes fly-fishing and the pursuit of stories takes us to unusual places. I’ve spent the past week on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, fly fishing and making images. The fishery is extremely healthy and productive, the scenery stunning and the people friendly. Despite a typhoon, an earthquake and the impending threat of missiles from North Korea (it was that kind of week) it was a productive, fun trip and I’m excited to pull notes and images together into stories!

Look for full-fledged stories coming soon in Australia’s FlyLife Magazine and the U.K.’s Fieldsports, but for now here are a few grainy behind-the-scenes shots from the old iPhone.

Trekking through Haneda.

Volcanoes and water. Everywhere.

Fish, three meals a day. Score.

Dusk long exposures over Lake Akan.

Gear mamagement 101.

The essentials.



by Fire Girl Jess on September 11, 2017

Several summers ago I found wandering the streets of New York by myself, camera bag hooked over my shoulder. My steps led me to the 9/11 site and what I thought was a few minutes quickly turned into a few hours.

This image is a little soft, a little shaky — I was a little shaky. And somehow it fits. I was 13 when the towers fell, and promptly was written up in school for leaving a class campout in Glacier National Park to go listen to President Bush address the nation. It had been a bad fire year — somewhat reminiscent of this one, 16 years later — and an exhausted hotshot crew was parked across the road, standing around their rig listening to the address. They didn’t mind a ranch kid from Kalispell joining in to listen… and somehow the ash and smoke in the air from our wildfires matched the mood.

Take a moment today to reflect.