Arts & Culture

Long Before Selfies, There Were Fishing Snapshots

“Just about everybody has a fish story,” says Barbara Levine, a Houston-based artist. And most folks who fish have taken at least a couple of snapshots. Which is why there are just so many fishing pictures, says Levine, who maintains an extensive collection of vintage photography she scored from flea markets, thrift stores, and auctions. A new book, People Fishing: A Century of Photographs co-written by Levine and Paige Ramey, includes more than a hundred black-and-white and faded-color finds of people enjoying one of our favorite pastimes.

“The fish photo is the forerunner to the selfie,” Levine says. “Unlike pictures where the photographer knows what they want, with fishing, it’s the person who wants their picture taken. They’re saying, Look what I did, here I am standing with my big fish.”

Most of the images have little more than a date written on the back. “Since we don’t know anything about these people, we bring our own stories and associations to the pictures,” Levine says. Although many of the photographers and subjects are anonymous, the fishing photos feel familiar and universal. “Go dig through your own shoe boxes of stuff,” Levine says, “And you’ll probably find some fishing photos tucked away.”

Click through for a selection of these charming vintage fishing photos.

Start Slideshow View as list