Flylords: Who is Ben Herndon?
Ben: A sarcastic optimist based in North Idaho that likes good folks, wild places, and tasty beer.
Flylords: How long have you been shooting photos professionally for?
Ben: About 10 years, 6 of that as a side-hustle, and the last 4 full time.
Flylords: How have you seen the photo industry change with the rise of social media and accessibility to cameras?
Ben: The accessibility today is pretty rad, the fact that almost anyone can afford to get some sort of camera and go out and get after is pretty neat. It also raises the bar and keeps photographers from being stagnant. Social media is a mixed bag for me. It’s a powerful way to share imagery and underlying messages but it definitely can be narcissistic and a creative echochamber at times. Though I’m in no way innocent of using the outdoors to make a living, it’s hard to see places getting loved to death from of a steady, coiffed line of instabros trampling a shot with no respect for the importance of place. Lately, I’m pushing for a less-is-more approach keeping location info vague or nonexistent for most areas, especially the obscure ones. That probably will do nothing but it makes me feel a little better.
Flylords: Do you remember the first image you had published?
Ben: My first real license was in a Mountain Gear catalog via the good folks at my photo agency Tandem Stills & Motion (tandemstock.com). It’s this shot from a stormy day climbing area in Oregon.
Flylords: What is your favorite activity to shoot?
Ben: For stills, anything outdoors (preferably with an element of solitude) where I can kind of let the place drive the creativity. Adventure, recreation, conservation, history, absurd double exposure portraits, it’s all fun though. I definitely like to mix it up between more serious and less serious work.
For film, I gravitate towards kind of funky, fictional narrative stuff. A good example was a short film called Das Fischer from a couple years ago about a young German man’s trip to Idaho to learn to fly fish where he has a run in with a sort of douchey Hemingway character named Hildebrand Richwine.
You can check it out here:
Flylords: Would you rather shoot a photo of the trophy trout, or catch the trophy trout?
Ben: I definitely shoot way more than I fish but I hope to remedy that.
Flylords: Tell us a little about what your camera bag looks like?
Ben: Pretty basic most of the time. A good wide angle (16-35), a good telephoto (100-400), and a nice low-light fixed 50 mm. I’ll occasionally do some off-camera lighting but I’ve found simple is often best for getting good moments. I use Canon but all the major camera companies are making great gear these days.
Flylords: Can you give one tip for aspiring outdoor photographers?
Ben: Everyone is sort of making it up as they go. But I was told 10 years ago by photographer and friend, Ian Shive, to “Hold on to that day job as long as you can.” Which was good advice for me. Having a dependable job that I didn’t really like allowed me to get gear and be financially stable so I could pursue the gig I wanted without having to cater or scrape by. There’s really no “I’ve arrived” moment though and it’s always a lot of legwork to stay positive and relevant, so enjoy each day. Any time I get to be out with a camera trying to do make something appear out of light, exposure, and composition, that’s pretty damn cool.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite fly fishing image you have taken?
Ben: I like this one (above) from a shoot for The Conservation Fund in Wyoming last year.
Flylords: With a zillion grip and grin fish photos out there, how do you try and shoot creatively in a fly fishing setting?
Ben: It’s always hard to make something really unique but it helps to focus on the moments that bookend the netting of the fish. There’s more to the story than just landing lunkers. Though that never hurts…
Flylords: What is your favorite fish species?
Ben: Any native trout.
Flylords: Favorite Beer? Book? Movie?
Ben: Anything with an ABV above 6%. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin naval series. The Life Aquatic
Flylords: Have you ever had a near-death experience on a photo shoot?
Ben: A couple close calls with rock fall while doing some dumb rapells for climbing photos.
Flylords: What’s next?
Ben: I have to disappear for three days and do my taxes.
Be sure to check Ben out on Instagram at @donofhern.