Reel Stories: A Photography Project Exploring Inclusivity in Fishing
Art Direction + Photography

Reel Stories: A Photography Project Exploring Inclusivity in Fishing


Zoe Cope

on 7/14/2023

We had the opportunity to partner with the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) to create imagery that promotes inclusivity in fishing and outdoor recreation. The project objective was centered around capturing the true essence of diverse experiences and celebrating the joy that comes from casting a line into the water. In the photography we provided, we set out to showcase people of color, multi-generational families, people of all ages, and women enjoying fishing in locations that would resonate across the Southeastern states.

Promoting inclusivity in fishing and outdoor recreation is crucial for creating a more equitable society, expanding access to outdoor spaces, fostering environmental stewardship, building stronger communities, and inspiring future generations. By actively embracing and encouraging inclusivity, we can ensure that fishing and outdoor activities are enjoyed and cherished by all.

Photo Shoot Preparations

As VIA's Design Director, I played a pivotal role in shaping the overall aesthetic of our recent photoshoot. It was crucial to find the perfect photographer for the project, and without a doubt, Aubrey Janelle stood out as the ideal candidate. Her impressive background in outdoor photography, combined with her exceptional ability to direct and make people feel at ease in front of the camera, made her the perfect fit. This was particularly important since all our models were regular individuals, and ensuring their comfort was a top priority.

Our Fish and Wildlife contacts came through with some fantastic options for models in our photo shoot. They tapped into a pool of talent, including Fish and Wildlife employees, friends, and even family members. This added a wonderful sense of ease to the photoshoots because many of the models were familiar with one another which created a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere that translated beautifully into the final shots.

Shoot Days

We carefully selected locations that were representative of the region, ensuring that our imagery could be relatable to a wide range of communities. From the sandy beaches of Florida's coastline to the serene lakes and rivers of Kentucky, we captured moments of connection, laughter, and shared experiences.

Bringing together all the essential elements of the photo shoot was a mammoth task, but VIA's Project Manager and Production Coordinator, Chelsea absolutely nailed it. She worked her magic to coordinate everything from the models, locations, travel arrangements, on-set snacks, and meals, to the scheduling of the shoots. Chelsea's expertise shone through as she seamlessly organized our trips from Portland, Oregon to both Florida and Kentucky, ensuring a smooth experience for Aubrey and me. Not only that, she flawlessly managed the run-of-show schedules during the shoots and made sure everyone stayed hydrated and in high spirits.

Florida's Saltwater Experience🐬

Our journey in Florida began with early morning photoshoots, where we eagerly awaited the rising sun on the captivating coastline. The incredible hues of dawn painted an otherworldly backdrop as we captured the essence of families and friends bonding over the shared love of fishing.

Banner image of someone fishing in Florida

We documented the joyous moments of saltwater fishing, both on boats and right from the shore. The photographs captured the thrill of reeling in prized catches, the laughter that filled the air, and the pure delight on the faces of those casting their lines into the ocean.

Collage of people fishing in Florida

Journeying Kentucky's Freshwaters🛶

In Kentucky, we immersed ourselves in the serene beauty of freshwater fishing, setting out on kayaks and pontoons to explore the abundant lakes and waterways.

Banner image of women fishing in Kentucky

This was a place where women took center stage, showcasing their fishing skills with confidence and grace. Our lenses captured the camaraderie of families and friends, as they embarked on fishing adventures together, sharing stories and creating memories.

Good Things Come to Those Who Bait

...And we did! Throughout our journey in Florida and Kentucky, our project showcased the diverse fishing opportunities of the Southeastern states while emphasizing the significance of promoting inclusivity in outdoor recreation. Our photographs captured more than just the thrill of the catch — they depicted shared experiences among families, friends, and women who were united by their love for the sport.

Client quote

These images exceeded the client's expectations and have resonated with people far and wide, sparking conversations about representation and inclusivity in the fishing community. Let's use this project as a reminder that fishing has the power to unite people from all walks of life, celebrating our unique stories and the beauty of coming together in nature.

If you or your team needs help planning or executing a campaign, VIA is here to help. Whether you're in need of photography, video, marketing services, or anything in between, we've got you covered. Explore our services today and don't hesitate to contact us with questions.

BTS Moments👒

Behind the scenes collage #1Behind the scenes collage #2


Zoe Cope - Design Director

Chelsea LeCompte - Production Manager

Olivia Harmsen - Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, R3 Coordinator

Emily Abellera - Florida Fish and Wildlife, Public Information Specialist II

Aubrey Janelle - Photographer

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