Shutterbuggin’ is a regular web feature where we chat with photo contributors, talking about photography, fly fishing and whatever else happens to come up. In the third installment, we catch up with Eric Warner. Keep scrolling for the full conversation.
Photos: Eric Warner
The Flyfish Journal(TFFJ): Hi Eric, can you introduce yourself quickly for the readers that may not be familiar with your work?
Eric Warner(EW): My name is Eric Warner, I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California and originally got into photography by wanting to document my surf trips I would take in high school.
TFFJ: Did you take photo classes in high school and get on the yearbook staff? How did a camera first end up in your hands?
EW: Unfortunately my high school didn’t offer any photography classes. During that time, I would buy waterproof disposables and drop them off at Rite-Aid to get processed. It wasn’t until college when I got my BA in visual arts did I take film developing classes where I started to refine my eye and truly understand proper exposure.
TFFJ: That is great. I’ve had an idea for a traveling disposable camera project where a couple cameras are mailed around the country to different folks and they expose a few frames and then mail them off to someone else, and so on until the roll is done. Maybe I’ll look into that again. Thanks.
Do you strictly shoot film?
EW: For a long time I only shot film, spending thousands of dollars a year processing my rolls. I was really anti-digital, but lately I’ve found a good balance between shooting both. For all my personal projects and trips I usually only shoot film. It’s nice to slow down and take my time when creating an image. Picking up film from the lab to this day still holds that same excitement as it did when I first dropped off those disposables as a kid.
TFFJ: Where/when do the digital cameras come out? Scouting, snapshot, fun stuff?
EW: At my work they are out 100% of the time. I am the media/marketing manager at Chemistry Surfboards and day-to-day it just makes more sense. I use them a lot when trying to shoot action stuff too whether it be one of my friends fighting a fish or shooting surfing in San Diego.
TFFJ: Through your surfing background, you’ve developed a close connection with water, how did fly fishing enter the picture? Do you find the two activities similar? It’s interesting that both can bring people together but are essentially a solitary act. I don’t surf, but imagine there are some interesting parallels between the two.
Southern California doesn’t exactly jump off the radar in terms of being a fly fishing hot spot, but I’ve spent time there and there is a ton of water and opportunity. What’s your go-to fishery, if you’ve only got a half-day to sneak out and explore?
EW: My old roommate Hugh McManus actually introduced me to fly fishing a long time ago. We would always surf together, but when there weren’t waves we would go adventure the opposite direction of the beach and go fish.
To me surfing and fly fishing are very similar activities. They are both solitary, basically only pleasing the person doing it. The best thing about surfing to me is getting barreled (where you are riding inside the wave). I tell people all the time that hooking a fish and especially on top water, gives me that same enjoyment as getting barreled does. So in that sense I would say they are both similar.
If you love to fly fish for trout, like me, Southern California is basically the worst place to live to do that. We have lots of reservoirs for largemouth bass and carp, offshore fishing, but my favorite is (garbage) pond fishing. This consists of scouring Google Earth, finding some water in any drainage ditch, going to said mud puddle and usually being let down. Sometimes though you will come across a gem of a hole with some very hungry bass that have never seen a fly. It’s rare but doable in an area that is in its worst drought in 1,000 years.
TFFJ: Your urban bass adventures sound pretty fun! While I love surrounding myself in pristine natural environments and finding the solace and beauty in which they exist for an afternoon or as long as I can get away, I’m also drawn to the confluences, if you will, of the urban environments and the watersheds they harbor, as they are so often very resilient and put you in a place where you never thought you’d find yourself fly fishing. Regardless of the catch, the exploration involved is often center stage for me.
Were you able to explore many of the Sierra fisheries recently? How have they fared in the face of the drought conditions?
EW: The last time I was up in the Sierras was over the New Year holiday. There is at least a snowpack this year to provide water through the summer. Rivers like the Truckee and East Walker were hit pretty hard from the drought. I’ve heard the Truckee is doing much better now with the wet winter Tahoe has had, but I know the East Walker continues to trickle at a measly 20 CFS. Hopefully we have a wet spring ’cause February was a shit month for rain/snow for most of California.
TFFJ: What sort of stuff have you been shooting lately? Any projects you’re currently working on?
I am slowly working on a double exposure project that will be done by the end of this year. I am also still working on a project about California’s endless drought, and the opportunities that urban fishing can bring.
TFFJ: All sound interesting Eric, and I look forward to seeing them once you’ve finished.
We have a mutual friend, John Hendrickson, or H as I’ve always called him. After a long night of Hollywood red carpet partying a number of years ago, I had the best day of carp fishing I will ever have in my life with H, catching them on dry flies all day long. It was a great time and he is a good dude. How did you get mixed up with the likes of him?
EW: I met John through Blue Water Tackle Fly Shop in Solana Beach. I would go in there to buy fly tying supplies every now and then. John asked if I wanted a job working behind the counter part time (mostly on Sundays so he could watch his beloved Steelers) and I said yes. That job was my ticket to cheaper gear at the time. John has since become a good friend; he’s a no B.S. type of dude, real straight up, and is now involved with The Fly Stop.
TFFJ: Where can people see more of your work and follow along on your upcoming adventures and ongoing projects?
TFFJ: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat Eric!