Capt. Joe Byrum

JAYBLES PHOTOGRAPH­Y Master of the skyward blue marlin


Summers spent along the coast in North Carolina, beautiful images in fishing magazines, and years watching the weigh-ins at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament initially piqued Capt. Joe Byrum’s interest in photograph­y. As fate would have it, the 2009 event gave Byrum his first big break when the tournament’s magazine published his photo of a blue marlin—head out of the water and lure flailing. “I remember getting $100 for it and being so stoked,” Byrum recalls. “One, because I got paid to take a photo of a marlin, and two, because I finally got a check from the Big Rock!”

With a degree in journalism and media production from East Carolina University, Byrum spent the next six years in film, working on projects such as Iron Man 3 and The Conjuring. He is now based in Kona, Hawaii, working as photograph­er and mate aboard the 37-foot Merritt, Benchmark.


Never offshore without his Canon 5D Mark III, he relies on two lenses: the Canon EF 100-400mm when shooting at distance, and the Canon EF 24-105mm lens when shooting boatside. Byrum shoots in shutter priority mode when capturing images of fish because this allows the camera to adjust settings around the shutter speed. Typically, he shoots at 1/1600 to 1/2000 of a second when he’s focused on jumping blues. And when playing with available light, he says, “I like to go for the lowest ISO and the narrowest aperture I can get away with.”


“This big fish smashed our short corner lure and put on one of the best aerial displays I’ve ever seen immediatel­y following the bite,” Byrum recalls. “I had my camera ready and started firing away as soon as I saw it.” Maintainin­g the focus on the fish was challengin­g, but when he looked at the images, he was confident that the shot could be cover material.

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