We came across Joe Klementovich’s photography while chasing striped bass along the shores of New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. His portfolio covers far more than just fly fishing, covering ice climbing, trail running, hiking, and climbing to name a few in and around his home state of New Hampshire. To those who know him, Joe not only brings a unique perspective while shooting but also an attitude that will make any slow fishing the last thing you remember from the adventure. We caught up with Joe to talk about his photography career, his advice for aspiring photographers, and what’s coming up next for him.
Check the full interview below!
Flylords: Who is Joe Klementovich? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joe: I’m a freelance photographer living in North Conway, NH. I’ve been full-on freelancing for about a decade now, working for a variety of clients. I love the variety of work I do, it ranges from The Wall Street Journal to small local non-profits that work to restore and protect our local watershed. If I’m outside climbing, fishing, skiing, or whatever I’m happy.
Flylords: When did you first pick up a camera? What model was it?
Joe: My dad had a Canon AE-1 way back and I would use it now and again but I didn’t dive deep until the last couple of years of college when I started shooting landscapes and developing film. Yeah, developing film. pre-digital…. Then I moved to North Conway and started climbing and traveling and that really got me interested in storytelling and realizing how much photography could do.
Flylords: Did you study photography? How did you develop your photography into a professional career? What was your first paid photography assignment?
Joe: I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, the complete opposite of photography but I had a friend that had access to a darkroom so I started to learn a bit in school. I spent a long time just snapping pictures and documenting trips. One winter a friend of mine introduced me to Jose Azel, a photographer working on a story for National Geographic. He needed someone to carry gear and do some climbing on Mount Washington. That’s when I started to think more seriously about making freelance photography a career. A bunch of years later and a few week-long workshops, and here I am.
I think the first image I sold was a shot of ice climbing to Shape Magazine, my first assignment was probably for a small local paper called “The Mountain Ear” covering some local events.
Flylords: How has the photography and content creation space changed during your career? How have you adapted to the shifting trends and media?
Joe: That’s a lot to dive into. It seems that my career has spanned the most dramatic shift in photography ever, the change from film to digital, to phone cameras and social media has been astonishingly fast. There are a lot more people creating images and videos and way more outlets to present that content to and many different formats. I think we all still love to see our images in a print magazine and thankfully there are still great publications out there doing that. The addition of social media and the web really expands our ability to tell stories and really go deep into topics and to tell stories in a more engaging way. So, having those tools available I really try to work with clients that are interested in storytelling on a meaningful level. Collaborating with brands and clients that are willing to go beyond the cliché and celebrate all the little things that go into an adventure is the sweet spot for me.
Flylords: You shoot all sorts of content for clients in the outdoor industry. What attracts you to fly fishing as a subject?
Joe: Fly fishing brings a lot of things together for me, great characters, amazing and wild environments, and some level of adventure. What more could you want in a story. Probably the most interesting part of fly fishing is how people, fish, and our environment all connect and create a truly unique and special experience. That might be as simple as a morning out alone on your local stream or as epic as a month-long trip chasing exotic fish in a faraway jungle with close friends.
Flylords: What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned during your career?
Joe: You can’t create great images if there’s a rod in your hand and you can’t catch fish with a camera in your hand. I think most photographers will back me up on this.
Flylords: Do you have any advice for aspiring professional adventure photographers?
Joe: Collaborate, make friends, be nice. We all love working and living in the fly fishing world makes it a better place with your presence and your work.
Flylords: What has been your favorite fly fishing shoot? Why?
Joe: Living in New England we have lots of opportunities to photograph a variety of species and places , great striped bass on the coast, wild brook trout in the mountains, but I think my favorite shoot would be traveling to the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada to fish and photograph the amazing Atlantic Salmon in those crystal clear waters. We had a great group of friends on the trip and it was my first time in the area and first time seeing Atlantic salmon up close. Absolutely remarkable fish, the locals are wonderful and the rivers beautiful, can’t really ask for much more than that.
Flylords: For you, what is the most important aspect of a successful photography assignment?
Joe: I love it when I can capture the emotion and sense with just images, not relying on captions or text to tell the story. Finding and framing those little details as well as wide open aerials and everything in between.
Flylords: On an average shoot, what are you carrying in your pack?
Joe: It always feels like too much… I really like what a wide angle lens can do especially up close or at the water’s surface so I’ll bring a 14-35mm, a 24-70mm for portraits and details. I’ll sometimes bring a macro 100mm to get those colors and scales up close. Depending on the location I’ll pack a drone for those top-down shots we all love. A couple mirrorless bodies and a waterproof housing to round out the pile of gear.
You can follow Joe on Instagram @klementovich!