Last Chance to Get It Right – by Gregory Fitz PT – 1

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs steelhead fly fising on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for Patagonia and the Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Olympic Peninsula (OP) is home to one of the last remnants of primeval temperate rain forest in the continental United States, but it is the rivers that draw anglers to the coast each winter. Named for the Indigenous peoples who’ve lived here for thousands of years, the Hoh, Queets, Quinault, Quillayute, Elwha and other rivers are volatile, wild watersheds with a powerful strain of large steelhead that evolved to migrate during the cold winter deluge.

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Gregory Fitz for Patagonia regarding the state of wild steelhead within the wild tributaries of The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I had the pleasure of photographing Greg, Steve Duda (Patagonia’s Managing Editor for Fly Fishing), Matt Millette (Head of Marketing, Patagonia Fly Fishing) and Gray Struznik (Fly Fishing Legend and Guide) for two days as they floated, waded and wandered the waters in search of the seasonal steelhead run.

The published article speaks for itself. It is poignant, crafted with an ease of the need to spring to action, as well as consider all parties involved. Gregory paints a picture of the OP as it is – a rainforest of endless ferns, brambles, huckleberries and salal with climbing towers of ancient breathing wood carpeted with wet mosses. It is a place of beauty that is on the edge of imminent disaster.

Can we embrace restraint and become guardians of these rivers and wild fish, instead of mobs of enthusiastic user groups? Long days of fishing give a guy plenty of time to dwell on this question. When I’m leaning against the current, and the fly is swinging through the cold water at the right speed, I find myself settling into a blend of gratitude and anticipation that I struggle to describe to anyone who isn’t an angler. Time seems to slow, and I feel connected to the river, the ancient cycle of fresh and saltwater, and the weight of what we have already lost. I want to believe that we can do better and demand better of our peers. If we can’t meet this higher standard, then the only option is for all of us to stop fishing here until we can adequately honor the privilege, and our responsibility, instead of taking it for granted.

I offer the link to the full article published on Patagonia’s website Last Chance to Get It Right as well as additional photography from this winter’s assignment. Speak up for our planet and take action with the following organizations:

Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Nature Conservancy

American Rivers

Wonderful Machine Blog: Cameron Karsten Helps Sage Fly Fish Market Itself to New Demographics

Here’s a nice little write up at Wonderful Machine’s blog. The original post can be found here.

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A leap of faith that companies take from time to time involves marketing themselves to demographics outside their main consumer base. It’s a risk, to be sure, considering the number of resources these companies need to invest in this kind of advertising push. This is what fishing rod manufacturer Sage Fly Fish, with the help of photographer Cameron Karsten, is trying to do.

Fly fishing is mostly known as a retiree’s sport, so Sage wants to break the old model and show imagery of all persons young and old, as well as shots of both seasoned anglers and novices.

Sage is a leading brand in this market, and it sells products for a wide variety of fishing locations, from freshwater streams to saltwater oceans. As a result, Cameron has done a good bit of traveling in and out of the country.

Every season, Sage utilizes their imagery for the different seasonal fishing taking place around the globe. For example, there is a heavy winter steelhead run in the Pacific Northwest, so new products are unveiled for this technique during this season.

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These images are shot months in advance and are rolled out within their appropriate season, used on everything from social media channels to print runs in select fly-fishing periodicals. Their also published on the web for online sales and made into big banners for trade-shows.

Of course, fishing takes a ton of patience, but that’s to Cameron’s benefit. The hours-long process allows him to think creatively and try new things, which helps both him and the client.

Fly fishing is a very slow methodical process, whether sighting fish, working a hole in the river, or spey casting a stretch of nice running water. As a photographer, I have a lot of time to work the angles, get the shot of the cast, and then try something unique, creative, out-of-the-box.

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During these shoots I’m a fly-on-a-rock, following the angler as he fishes various holes and ripples, chasing tailing fish on the flats, or doing the basic mechanics of tying on a fly, changing line, or releasing a fish. The goal is to capture not only the cast, but the culture and story of a fly-fishing angler.

In getting the whole picture, Cameron sometimes has to create wide shots for specific uses. His arresting panoramas perfectly capture all there is to soak in while fishing in some gorgeous places, and they’re used quite nicely by Sage.

These wide shots are meant for large banner presentations at trade-shows or on the web. The goal is to show the beauty of the location with the subject within the setting. To set these up, I place the individual within the space and allow my eye to find the perfect positioning so I can capture the perfect cast that represents Sage and the sport. I then shoot plates surrounding the subject, which creates a large banner image once stitched together in PhotoShop. The images often render 4GB or more in size.

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Another nice development within these shoots is the sense of camaraderie amongst the brands that market products aimed at the same people. Where Sage wants to sell equipment, Patagonia wants to sell merchandise, and YETI wants to sell gear. As the person who mixes everything together, Cameron can produce batches of imagery that tell a full story and help each organization.

The great thing about this culture of fly fishing is there are so many high-end companies who want to work together — brands that have similar stories in their own light but look to affiliate with one another due to their experience, quality, and value. On a lot of these fly fishing campaigns, I’ve been able to bring on different partners. Companies like Patagonia and YETI have fantastic gear for all of these environments. So, to bring on these brands is wonderful and makes the whole adventure complete with quality equipment.

Below is a link to a booklet we shot on-location in Idaho, and more work can be found at www.CameronKarsten.com.

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Belize Pt 2 – YETI

On water or land, there’s always a place to be thirsty and carry the right vessel.

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