An Interview with Jason Stemple-Professional Photographer
Jason Stemple is a photographer, flyfisherman, adventurer and an all around cool dude that I like to spend time with. We have alot in common; mostly that both of us LOVE to fish, but when it comes right down to it our priorities lie at home with the family. Jason is a family man with a wife and 2 twin daughters. Apart from being a Dad, he is a very talented photographer.
TR: Hey Jason! Whats going on?
JS: Hey Tom.
TR: Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into fishing and photography…and fishing photography?
JS: Like most anglers, my Dad turned me on to fishing. He grew up in West Virginia in a family of fly fishermen and we fished together from early on where I grew up in Massachusetts. We had a little river behind our house and I would spend a lot of time down there wading in the muck catching perch, smallmouth and rock bass, occasionally a stocked trout would find it's way back there as well. He also had been a photographer for a while before a career in Computer Science, so I guess that came from him as well.
It's strange but besides a few grip and grin shots here and there, I didn't figure out to put the two together until the last five years or so. I think I was always too much of a fishing junkie to be able to put the rod down and pick up the camera when it was happening.
TR: What was your first job in the fishing industry?
JS: My first summer out of college, I was living in Crested Butte Colorado and was shooting rafters for Three Rivers Resort. It was sort of fishing industry adjacent. There were two trips per day and if I timed it right, I could get in 2 hours of fishing between lunch break and waiting on rafts during the midday mayfly hatch on the Taylor River.
TR: Do you have a background in guiding?
JS: Yes, the resort I was shooting at had a fly shop and guide service, and after a couple of years watching the guys go fishing everyday while I was watching rafts, I began guiding. I worked my way up the ladder until I was floating 100 days or so per season on the Gunnison, if it all fell apart, I think I'd be happy doing that again.
TR: What project do you have going on now?
JS: Right now, I'm trying to finish up editing a bunch of photos from my Fall travels with a few T.V. shows for my FAVORITE client.
TR: Which TV shows do you shoot for?
JS: Saltwater Experience, Into the Blue and Sweetwater
TR: Have you been anywhere cool lately?
JS: Actually, yes. I just got back from North Riding Point Bonefish Club on Grand Bahama shooting with True Flies, and before that did a little tour of some Florida bass lakes and rivers.
TR: What is the coolest thing that has happened on the water in the last year?
JS: That's tough. The best part of my job is that I am constantly entertained by the things that fish do. I could spend the whole day at Hawk's Cay watching dock tarpon. Mostly though, it's watching a fish the last second before it eats something, hopefully my fly. Right now, the biggest thing that sticks in my mind is watching you tease a school of 10-15 pound jacks back to the boat off the Everglades and seeing a 10 foot bull shark come out of nowhere and swallow one whole a foot under the bow. The speed and power was awesome.
TR: How can people see more of your photography?
JS: I have a few websites and try to post new fishing shots to Instagram daily:
Facebook: Jason Stemple
TR: What is one place that you would like to go and take pictures?
JS: I'd love to get to Alaska for a few weeks and shoot bears and especially the big rainbows, a little closer to home, I was hoping someone would take me to fish the Marquesas.
TR: I know...I know...I promise we will get to the Marquesas. It is one of my favorite places and I cant wait to take you there. Is there a fish that is on your bucket list that you haven't gotten to yet to photograph or just to catch?
JS: Permit is on both lists, but tops is probably Oceanside Tarpon on fly. I've caught plenty of tarpon, and they are my favorite fish, but haven't yet hooked or got great shots of the real deal on the Oceanside.
TR: Show us the photo that you are the most proud of and tell us why.
JS: How about two? It''s always hard to pick just one, and my favorites are always changing.
I've always wanted to get a GREAT jumping tarpon shot, and for me they have all fell just a little short, whether it was the light or not being really crisp or the angle was a little off...this one got it for me. It's a fly caught fish from the Everglades with Captain Shafter Johnston, Blue Moon Expeditions. The sunrise had just crested the trees over the Gulf and Shafter put this guy in the air on the first cast and the low light just lit him up.
The other is my favorite boat running shot of all times. We were running home in the camera boat getting a few shots of you in front of the sunset, then we crossed your wake after the sun went down and shot this one in the other direction as we ran out of light. An amazing day, topped off with one of my best shots.
TR: Several years ago, the photography industry was rocked with digital photography and then again with cell phone cameras. What do you see as the future of real photography?
JS: I was a hold out, I loved being in the dark room and was convinced for a while that digital would never be the answer. For a while I shot both, digital for quick stuff and medium format film when it really mattered. Eventually, my digital stuff was printing better than the medium format and I never looked back. Now, I enjoy and spend more than half my time sitting at the computer at my digital dark room.
TR: What kind of camera equipment do you use?
JS: I've always been a Nikon guy. I usually have a pelican case on board with a D300s and a D800 and assorted lenses including a 16-35mm, a 35-70mm, a 70-200mm and a 300mm.
TR: I always liked the fact that you traveled light but had everything you needed. Good quality. Cameras have improved so much in just the last few years, where is this all going? How high resolution do you anticipate we will see in the next year…5 years?
JS: I'm not sure what's next. I'd like to see more frames per second, but I don't see a need for more resolution. My D800 shoots at 36 megapixels and I can't imagine a need need for more. I have billboards shot with 12 megapixels, so print size isn't an issue, but the huge files start to tax your computer's performance and storage is a continuing problem.
TR: You have so many great shots...Can people buy your photography?
JS: Yes, I sell custom prints of fish/fishing, nature and wildlife and of course am available for assignment. People can go to my site or email me:
TR: What advice would you give to an up and coming photographer?
JS: My mother is a writer and her advice to aspiring writers is "BIC"- but in chair. The same applies to photography, you just have to spend a lot of time out there shooting. It also helps to take some photoshop classes, either online or at a school or workshop. Clicking the shutter is only half the game, kind of like putting the paint on the palette.
TR: Anything else you would like to share with us?
JS: Just that I feel lucky to be doing what I do. My mother is an author and my father was a scientist and naturalist, so mixing art, science and nature together always seemed like the thing to do, and doing it for a living is just the cherry on top.
TR: Thanks so much Jason! I look forward to spending some more time on the water with you.
JS: My pleasure, I'll be ready for some Keys time soon!
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