I once started out a story about Lanai with “I hate traveling with photographers.” And it’s true. They’re a pain in the butt. Usually. A few years back I was working on a book about the deserts of the Southwest with a very accomplished photographer from the Bay Area. I loved her but I couldn’t stand to work with her. In the middle of a chile festival in New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, I left her there and after that we worked separately.
So you won’t be surprised to hear that when a major publication assigned a photographer to join me and the boys on Halcón last year for a story I wrote, I was less than enthusiastic. I even warned Hardy, who puts these trips together, that it might be a bad idea. It’s difficult getting the chemistry together for six men to live and play on a boat for a week. Particularly when there’s no shore access, as there’s not in the Jardines de la Reina. If someone is an asshole, you’re stuck with them in close quarters the whole time.
But Pedro—Pete McBride—fit right in from day one. Although he’d never done any saltwater flyfishing, he picked it up quickly. And while he was there primarily to work, he didn’t drive the rest of us crazy with demands to get up at 5 am to catch the light or to only wear bright, clean clothing so his photos would look great. He worked with whatever he was given. Plus, he could tell a damn good story at night, a requisite for being on a trip like this.
If you look at the story we put together for Outside’s Go magazine, you’ll see the remarkable results of Pedro’s photography. And you’ll wonder how he got some of those photos.
First of all, Pedro spent a lot of time in the water. He carried underwater camera housing with him wherever he went and if you happened to hook into a bonefish or tarpon or even a jack crevalle, Pedro would toss off his shirt and hop into the water to shoot the fish while still hooked.
Of course, this didn’t always work out. One time Hardy hooked into a good-sized tarpon and Pedro wanted to shoot the struggle with his underwater gear. The thing is, tarpon have really hard mouths and easily throw off hooks (it’s not unusual to hook ten tarpon and only get one to the boat). Plus there’s some sort of inverse rule of fighting a fish, according to Jimmi, that says if you don’t get your catch into the boat in the first five minutes, the odds increase dramatically that you will lose them.
Which is exactly what happened with Hardy’s tarpon as Pedro fiddled around in the water trying to get off a shot of the fish and Hardy in the same frame.
One last thing about the photography Pedro did on that story for Outside’s Go. Usually the magazine puts a celebrity on the cover (the current issue has Andy Garcia). This was the only issue, as far as I know, that didn’t have a movie star on it. Just a great shot, taken from the water line, of Fletcher casting for bonefish.
Pedro has also made some amazing videos. Check out this short on Cuban music called “Rumba Sunday” at his web site. Just go to Menu>Photo Essays>Rumba Sunday.