The Fishipedia Q&A: Henry Gilbey (Part 1)

September 1st, 2011| No Comments

The Fishipedia Q&A: Henry Gilbey

If you’re even an occasional reader of fishing magazines, you will have come across Henry Gilbey’s work – this self-taught fishing photojournalist has captured the beauty of just about every top location there is, and his work has appeared on the pages of magazines and websites in every corner of the globe.

It doesn’t end there though. When he hasn’t got a camera (or a rod and reel in his hand), he finds time to write books about fishing, and even presents the odd TV show as well. Quite simply, this is a man who lives and breathes fishing. If you’ve seen his TV shows, you’ll know exactly what we mean – for our readers in the US, believe us, this man brings a whole new meaning to the word “enthusiastic”. So, we thought it was about time we sat down with this legend of UK fishing and got his views on everything from his favorite photographic moments to the ultimate game fish and everything in between.

In fact, we ended up talking for so long, we decided to split the interview into two parts.

Here’s Part 1…

Henry Gilbey, welcome to the Fishipedia Q&A. Just in case there’s anyone out there who’s unfamiliar with your work, you’re a fisherman, a photographer, writer and TV presenter. Which one takes up most of your time?

Writing and photography by a big margin. I have not done any TV work for a while now, and to be honest I have not really been looking for it either. The stuff I love the most is photographing all kinds of fishing all around the world – indeed I am still convinced that most people who have seen my fishing programmes (often repeated, not my fault, my apologies) have no idea that my “main” job if you like is a fishing photojournalist. Fine by me as well. I quite like slipping under the radar where possible.

People who have seen your shows will know you’re crazy about saltwater fishing, but you seem to have a particular weakness for bass. What is it about them that pushes your buttons?

I suppose that for a particular kind of fishing to really turn me on, it has to have a specific mix of being exciting to do or be around and then it needs to light me up on the visual/photography side. Bass fishing does this for me. OK, so they are hardly very big when compared say to tarpon, and they don’t shred lines like GTs for example, but the way we fish for them and the locations we do it in just float my boat in a major way. Bass fishing with lures especially makes me cover lots of ground (I love walking), it forces me to think on my feet, and it has really made me think about what I actually know about fishing and realise that it ain’t that much at all. Falling in love with the whole bass fishing thing has made me go back to the bottom of the learning curve and almost start all over again, and I just get off on that kind of challenge. I never, ever go fishing without a camera or cameras, and I could photograph bass fishing until the end of my days and die a happy fishing bloke.

You’ve fished and photographed all over the world. What’s your all-time favourite destination?

From a fishing point of view it’s an easy one – Ireland. Yes, I have been lucky to have seen and photographed some of the most awesome fishing on this earth, and in the most ridiculously special places at times, but my fishing heart lies with Ireland and its perfectly glorious coastline. You would not believe how excited I get about each and every single trip I make over there!

From a purely photography point of view? Not an easy one. I suppose my one trip to Mongolia was about as “perfect” as it got for me, if indeed fishing photography can ever come close to that, but I get a kick out of most places I visit for my work. I have a serious passion for tropical flats photography as well, and the remote atolls of the Indian Ocean (Cosmoledo, Providence, St. Brandon’s etc) are a massively special place when they light up in the midday sun. I would kill to spend serious time in places such as New Zealand and the American Midwest for example. Too many things to do, but too little time. I also have a serious thing for Africa. Sorry, I have not answered the question very well!

Your photography has appeared in just about every fishing magazine there is. Why do you think you’ve become such a successful snapper?

I’m not sure I am very successful to be honest! I worked out a long time ago that I was never going to get remotely rich working in fishing, but you do the kind of stuff I do as a lifestyle kind of thing, and if I can look after my family and give us a decent life then I reckon I’m doing OK. But yes, I do get my work published all over the place I suppose, and I love doing it as well. Quite simply you need to build up a reputation for high quality work, lots of it, and the ability to deliver what you say you can or will on time. I do push my material hard, and I have the utmost belief in what I am doing. Self-confidence goes a long, long way when it comes to being self-employed I suppose. The biggest “secret” to shooting lots and lots of fishing photographs that can be sold is not to fish. If you want to fish all the time, whatever you do don’t work in fishing. If you can’t handle watching other anglers fish while you take photos then forget it and go do something else.

If you could pick a couple of your all-time best photos, what would they be and why?

Crumbs, close to impossible! But here are a couple I am really proud of:

Henry Gilbey's bass-eye viewNot a very “commercial” photograph in the context of magazine articles, but I have always loved it from the moment I shot it. Nothing remotely complicated about this close-up shot of the eye of a bass, but there has to have been a lot that came together just at the right moment to nail it – and I know that because I have never been able to shoot another eye shot that I like half as much as this since! This is the kind of photo for me that I had to shoot because I just “saw” the shot if that makes sense, and it’s one of those photos that really gets to me on a personal level. Perhaps one day it will go on the front cover of a book or something like that.

Henry Gilbey: MongoliaPerhaps I should be choosing a photo of a serious fish or a drop-dead location or something like that, but I have got loads and loads of those on my hard drives. From a purely photography point of view this shot from Mongolia (right) was the first time that I had ever had the opportunity to create a photo like this – location, time of day/angle of light, angler happening to be fishing in just the right place, me happening to recognise what was going on with regards to the dropping sun, the angler’s position and the rock face/trees behind him. Knowing when to tell your camera it’s completely wrong and take complete control yourself. Modern cameras are incredible bits of kit, but they have not got a clue when a potentially unique situation like this comes along. I had been waiting for a chance to shoot a photograph like this for years, and it has only happened for me once again since that Mongolia trip – in Ireland as it happens, and I got so excited that I nearly dropped my camera in the sea! But again, it’s hardly the most commercial of my photographs when it comes to making me a living, but I just love it from a creative and technical point of view. It could also be the “artist” in me talking a load of rubbish! Sorry…

Click here to see Part II…>> Check out Henry’s
website, blog, and awesome
collection of work at


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