New Jersey-based photographer John Kuczala’s images for Scabelly are bold and colorful vignettes of fishing lures treading through the water. The beautiful images creatively bring to life inanimate objects using sharp contrasts, clever lighting techniques, and splashing water.
John entrances the viewer the same way that a fishing lure should attract its prey’s attention. The bright color of the products stands out against a black backdrop, and that coupled with reflections and crisp details like splashing water serve to create a sense of movement in the still imagery.
The photographer met John Hudler, who makes these fishing lures, through a mutual friend and bought a couple of his products with the idea to photograph them in splashing water. As a fellow fisherman, he thought they were beautifully made, and it would make a nice set of images for his website.
John loved the test shots, and we ended up doing a shoot together to build interest for upcoming shows where he sells them. Since then, he’ll send me a few when he makes one in a new shape or color pattern.
The images were featured on a local trade magazine called The Fisherman, featuring the Scabelly plugs. A selection of the photos also illustrates a Harvard Business News review article about recruiting new employees. The purpose of a fishing lure is, of course, to attract fish, and the report uses John’s eye-catching images to make a clever pun about ‘luring’ new employees into the workforce.
I love the art direction of Harvard Business News and was so happy to see them use some of the shots for a story on luring new employees. I’ve been reading The Fisherman since I was a kid, so it was great to see one of my images used for one of their stories too!
Most of the photos were taken as tabletop photography in John’s basement studio by placing the lures in a fish tank with a dark seamless backdrop clipped to the back of the tank. John drops each lure into the tank and stirs the water to produce waves within the tank. That motion splashes the water surrounding the lures, creating details that add visual interest and give the bait the illusion of being real fish.
The lures are shot in a 10-gallon fish tank in my studio, which is splash-proof. Getting the “That’s it!” splash shot is always great.
Shooting through glass can sometimes be challenging as it produces unsightly reflections, but John avoids them by photographing the lures at an angle and using blackout fabric behind the camera. In addition, he captures multiple takes to ensure the final images showcase both the product and the splashing water in detail.
I like to try various angles and speeds with any splash photography to get the best-looking bubbles that don’t hide essential parts of the product.
As part of this project, John also created some videos for Scabelly, combining his studio photography with motion captures at a local creek.
The couple of videos I did taught me a lot about editing and planning transitions. I had to move rocks around in the creek to redirect water and get the correct velocity to replicate the action of the lure when someone reels it in.
Photographer: John Kuczala