We had the pleasure of "sitting down" with advertising and lifestyle photographer Chris Ross recently, to discuss his background, career in photography, and what lengths he'll go to to "get the shot." We caught up with Chris after a recent shoot that combined his love of fishing and getting in the water: documenting three expert flyfishing women in pursuit of flyfishing's grand slam in the Florida Keys. Here's what Chris had to say:
I have a degree in advertising from The University of Georgia and a commercial photography degree from Brooks Institute. At Brooks I was drawn to the coastal life and based a lot of my studies and subjects around the ocean and the beach scene. We had a school boat that would take us miles off the coast to the channel islands where we focused on underwater photography. After graduating I landed my first serious job with Costa Del Mar sunglasses who wanted to use me for both my above- and below-water editorial shooting style. My philosophy is to be a fly on the wall, documenting the entire experience. However, that does not mean I'm stationary; on the contrary, I am always in constant motion. Rig the fishing gear…hunt for the fish…catch the fish…jump in the water and release the fish, etc. If I can capture lifestyle in a way that pulls the viewer into that story than I have accomplished the mission!
Due to my risk-taking nature, my wife is not too keen on some of my adventures. However, it's this inherent risk, the essence of an adventure, that drew me to photography. I have been dragged by a bowline around my waist to shoot sailfish on the hook while running. I have been face to face with 18-foot white sharks without a cage for numerous National Geographic shoots. I have had to dodge families of Howler monkeys in the Panamanian jungle not happy with my presence...Whatever it takes!
This particular shoot was done to document a fishing feat that has not been accomplished by any woman in history. It’s called the grand slam of fly fishing. In order to earn the title, an angler needs to land three specific species of fish found in the Florida Keys on a fly: permit fish, bonefish, and tarpon. They must do this in one day's outing. The three women, amongst the best anglers in the US, all came from very different backgrounds: a college student from Florida, a mother of two who owns a fishing shop in Montana, and a young woman who is a fly fishing guide based out of Oregon.
The whole shoot was done in The Keys, primarily embarking from Islamorada and Key West. The sweltering heat was the biggest challenge for me. We had to be covered head to toe with sun protective gear as we were on the water from dawn until dusk for 5 days straight. I was just waiting for the chance to cool off in the water to get some underwater/split photography when they landed a fish.
Another challenge was the intense and quick changes in the weather pattern. The intense hot sun gave way to extreme showers that could blow in very fast. We were on very tiny flats boats with little storage so getting gear buttoned up was a challenge. On numerous occasions we had to delve deep into the mangroves in order to find that “honey hole” that held that special Tarpon that was ready to eat! Everything was done via kayaks; pulling ourselves under mangroves and squeezing through tight passages, it felt like we would never make it out of the vast maze-like network! The population of Bull sharks in this area are high and when you are concentrating on taking pictures of the food while underwater you really aren’t sure if you might be on the buffet as well!
Like all good fishing tales, this one has a happy ending. The young angler from Oregon caught the permit, bonefish and tarpon in one day, on the 4th day of trying. She's now the only female in history to have recorded a grand slam in The Keys!
See the rest of Chris' shoot here!
The end of summer / beginning of autumn is always a beautiful and exciting time to be outdoors, as the weather and colors start to change. The variety of outdoor activities is great at this time as well. You can do yoga on the beach, nap in a hammock with your dog, watch the sunrise over a canyon with a little chill in the morning air, sail, enjoy some watermelon the best way possible (getting delicious juice all over yourself) or harvest the end of season fruits and vegetables. You can fly fish, go running, have a last river tubing adventure of the season, watch lightning storms in awe, mountain bike, hike to the top of a mountain peak for an expansive view or just check out some foliage. Or, maybe you're gearing up for your winter adventures on the slopes or planning trips to Cuba or Myanmar.
All that, and an underwater skateboarder, can be seen in our new images for October gallery: http://www.auroraphotos.com/result?webseries_id=14734