Before I discuss this photo I want to ask you, the reader, a few questions. You don’t need to answer these in the comments but I’d like you to think about them before continuing on…

  1. What emotions, if any, does this image make you feel?
  2. Do you have any memories of a scene like this in your own life?
  3. What clues are in this photo that give a sense of context beyond just the fishing pole?
  4. How were elements such as framing, composition, and depth of field used to create this image?

Now this isn’t supposed to be a quiz per se, but I do hope in looking at this picture you see more than just a kid with a fishing pole. In truth what’s happening here is rather quite mundane and perhaps only meaningful to me and maybe a few others. That’s why I want you to make your own interpretation of the image without really finding out too much about it from me. In a sense, the backstory here is kind of irrelevant since my real purpose in taking this photo was to maintain a sense of ambiguity so the viewers could attach their own meanings and draw their own conclusions. (I mean it: I specifically shot this image to be posted here on Weekly Fifty, and had this in mind when I took it.)

Who is the kid? Is it a boy or girl, and does it even matter? Where is this happening? Is it his or her first time using a fishing pole, or is he or she already familiar with such tools? I could answer all these questions but I don’t really want to since that’s not the point. What I set out to do here is show how photography can be used to elicit feelings, emotions, and help the viewer connect with the image on more than just an observational level. Of course all this sounds a bit narcissistic and you might, at this point, be rolling your eyes at the audacity of an amateur photographer like me who thinks a silly picture of a kid fishing could possibly be meaningful to anyone!

Anyway, I hope at the very least this image at least works on a technical level when you think about things such as composition and framing. I also tried to choose appropriate exposure settings to get the image I was thinking of in my mind when I shot this, and overall I’m fairly pleased with the results. I hope you are too, and I’m curious to find out what you think of the image in the comments below. Not the mechanics of it, but whether it did anything for you on a mental or emotional level or maybe even caused you to stop and think just for a tiny bit.

Alright, that’s enough of this for one post. Thanks for reading this far, and hopefully next time I’ll step down from the esoteric ladder and just post something fun :)


  1. A great image! To someone once a father of three little boys and now a grandfather of three more, your photo of this little boy (I assume) hits home. Those slightly chubby little fingers, the wet sleeve, the little dark nick spots on his left thumb and right forefinger bring back so many memories.

    It’s shots like this that have me looking forward to your blog each week. Keep up the good work.

    • You’re correct Dwynn, this is indeed a little boy and I’m so glad you picked out the little details like the wet sleeve and spots on his thumb. To me, all those little parts add up to a context for the picture that goes well beyond just a kid fishing at a lake and helps provide a sense of back story and even adds a bit of character to the unnamed boy. I’m so glad you like these photos, and I’m sure your kids and grandkids have very fond memories of dad and grandpa taking them fishing on sunny summer days that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives :)

  2. This image warms my heart. It says someone took time to spend quality time with this young man. They have gotten away fro the hectic activities that cram pack our daily schedules. They have gotten away from electronics and ignoring one another in favor of a small screen. The young man is young enough to value the attention given to him by an elder. This is time well spent.

    Technically, I love the exposure. I tend to prefer deep rich light. I would however have preferred a deeper depth of field, just enough to have the young man’s hands in focus. As a mother, I would look back on those hands one day and smile.

    • I like your description of the photo, Rebecca: “Time well spent.” I kind of wish I would have used that as the title of the post :) It’s interesting how we create our own contexts for the images we see, isn’t it? What if, just out of frame, was a laptop or an iPad? What if this photo was taken in a dry and dusty back yard even though it appears as though it’s by the water? Of course none of that is true and it was, in fact, taken at a lake with no technology in sight (other than the camera that snapped the image) but even so, it does make me think about how we interpret the visual images all around us that we encounter on a daily basis.

      Thank you for your nice comment, by the way, and I know what you mean about a deeper depth of field. I think I would have preferred that too, to be honest. There’s always next time!

  3. I love this image and how it brought back many memories of many happy, relaxing very EARLY mornings from my 20s of picking up my boyfriend of the time, loading up the car and heading to the river for a day of fishing. And ohhh that cool crisp fresh air! This mAkes me wish I had pictures from those weekend mornings of so long ago…. (Luckily I still have my fishing rod and could stage a few pics to add to a story of my life in the 70s for my scrapbook. )
    Hmmmm…. Thanks for the memories! I really love how this post helps solidify the belief that the “day in the life” simple everyday things I photograph these days will matter as the years go by, and possibly bring back some bittersweet memories.

    • Oh my goodness Sabine, those sound like such wonderful memories! Reading your reply makes me think of the time I spent when I was a kid going fishing with my dad and brothers out at the lake, but my fishing pole has long since been lost :)

      I say you get out that fishing rod and stage a few pics! That sure would be fun to see!

  4. Brings back memories for me! My Dad was an avid fisherman, and because he had a family he taught us to fish as well. Many days we would stand on a lake front or stream bed and cast our poles hoping to catch the one Dad didn’t. I always appreciate your pictures. They help me realize that the things I love could and should be photographed.

    • Thank you for sharing those memories Cindy, and I like how you said you would often hope to catch one that your father didn’t :) I’ve been there too, and when I was a kid my brothers and I would always try to out-do each other with who could catch the most, who caught the bigger fish…anything, really. I’m so glad you like the photo!

  5. Tom Frye says

    Reminds of the hundreds of fishing trips I took with my state wards as their support worker. It was a wonderful way to connect with kids who had no dads in their lives. And for the life of me, I can’t say we ever caught any real keepers, such as anything over 4 lbs. Naw, we just fished for the fun of it, a way to spend 4 or 5 hours out in nature by many lakes of Nebraska.

    My one observation the kid in the photo had obviously reached down into the water without pulling up his sleeve as it is all soaked, which would be mighty uncomfortable if he was fishing in cold weather.

    Nice shot, Simon, thanks for a stirring of the memories.

    • Tom, I honestly can’t think of anyone better suited to take kids out on day-long Nebraska fishing trips. Those kids would come back with a head full of stories and a heart full of wisdom, and I bet most of them are better off now because of those day trips. Isn’t it interesting how even though you didn’t catch many keepers, you caught something far more valuable–or in a way, you gave those children something that would last much longer and take them much farther in life than just a few fish.

      On a side note, my brothers and I used to bike over to the pond behind Goodyear (which is now called something else, like Veyance Tech) and go fishing there when we were kids before they closed it off to the public. We found all sorts of weird things in that pond: fish with two heads, tadpoles sprouting five limbs…it made me wonder what in the world was going on over at that factory!

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