A lot of people think making pretty pictures is easy. In this episode, the 17th installment of the Beneath the Surface podcast, Corey and Sean set out to prove this theory wildly incorrect. To do so, they unveil the story behind the product launch of the LONO—BOTE's revolutionary inflatable fishing kayak.
The backstory all has to do with a fish. The tarpon, to be exact. A long silver prehistoric-looking beast that Sean has a long complicated love affair with. The tarpon is Sean's Moby Dick. For 10 years, he tried to catch one of these "8-pound minnows" and never did. He'd sometimes hook one. But hooking one, and reeling one in proved to be not so similar things.
The tarpon also happened to be the inspiration behind the design for the LONO, with tarpon scales decorating the hull in a bold blue, orange, and black color scheme. So it made sense that the tarpon (fish) would be a central fixation for the Tarpon (product).
In Beneath the Surface Podcast: LONO Tarpon, Sean walks us through his journey to finally catch a tarpon, both on a rod and on camera. Tune in to hear how it went.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
WHO'S IN THE EPISODE
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey's passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
"Being older now, I understand: shit doesn't always go your way. But it's so rewarding when you put in all the extra effort and pre-work, and then if it happens… It's epic." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
"You have an idea of what you want to happen. And from experience, I know that if you're open-minded things will always work out and generally they always work out better. Even if you don't catch a fish, it goes into something else that we didn't expect." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
"I just worked really hard at it. And eventually, this one took 10 years to catch the tarpon on the product that we needed to catch it on, in the right way. But it happened. The lighting was amazing. The water was clear. The fish was pretty." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
See the LONO Aero Bug Slinger™ Tarpon Inflatable Kayak in action.
Meet Sean's friend Brian Wargo—a legend who once beat up a 12-foot tiger shark to save his friend.
It's (tarpon) the worst fish on the planet. I hate them!! Hahahahahahaha!! - Sean Murphy
Cough, cough. Is this thing on? Welcome to another episode of Beneath the Surface. This time, we're coming at you from Corey's dirty desk, littered with coffee stains, 5-hour ENERGY® shots, and a book called The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger (which comes highly recommended by Corey, even if Sean doesn't read).
00:01:55 Teach a Man to Film a Fish, Feed Him For A Lifetime
Today's podcast is all about the fish. And the hunt for fish. And it turns out, the only thing more elusive than catching a fish is catching a fish on camera.
"We joke, anytime we do a fishing video, the critical piece to all of that is...the fish. Anytime you try to film something, it's like it doesn't exist." — Corey Cooper, CEO & Co-Founder at BOTE
00:03:06 The LONO Bug Slinger
Introducing the LONO—BOTE's high-end convertible stand up paddle board meets sit-on-top fishing kayak. The design of the board features the blue scales of the infamous tarpon. The tarpon is a type of fish that Sean has some not altogether fortunate luck with catching, and the exact fish that they decided needed to be caught on camera for the LONO product video.
"The LONO is our new inflatable fishing kayak, completely made of dropstitch. Basically our attempt at entering the kayak fishing market but doing it so with a portable, packable, badass high-end kayak." — Corey Cooper, CEO & Co-Founder at BOTE
00:04:45 The Elusive Tarpon
Every year in June, tarpon come through the Panhandle Gulf. Every year in June, Sean tries to catch himself a tarpon. Every year in June, Sean fails in his pursuit.
00:05:46 The Annals of Missing Out on Tarpon
Sean's spent his whole life trying to catch a tarpon. He's hooked them before. But they always get away. He's gone to Belize three times, zero. He's gone on multiple guided fishing trips with some of the most legendary fishing guides around, and still nothing. The tarpon is his Moby Dick.
"It is like the worst fish on the planet. I hate them." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE, referring to tarpon.
00:08:06 This Year Would Be Different
Sean, with his good buddy Harry (a BOTE ambassador from Wisconsin), put together a team. They developed a plan. They studied the tarpon. They figured out how to present a certain type of bait in a certain type of way at a certain type of angle that the tarpon responded to the previous year and wouldn't be able to resist. No way they would fail this time.
00:09:10 The Crew
For the shoot, it was Sean, Harry, and another legend named Brian Wargo. A guy who literally beat up a 12-foot tiger shark to save his friend while surfing in Hawaii a few years ago.
00:09:45 The Sitch
They heard of a spot 40 miles out, in the Gulf near Panama City, where there would be tarpon. So they mother shipped the LONO board out there and commenced to… finding nothing. Only the day before, a tarpon fishing guide in the area had hooked seven in an hour. And when Sean (and his tarpon curse) arrived, zilch.
00:11:30 What Is a Tarpon?
A tarpon is a long silver fish that looks like a prehistoric dinosaur, jumps a lot when you hook it. They're huge. Yet strangely, they eat tiny things, so a lot of fly fishermen try to catch them.
"It's like an 8-foot minnow." — Corey Cooper, CEO & Co-Founder at BOTE
00:13:20 "We Hook A Fish"
After about six hours of fruitless fishing, Sean and co. change tactics. They stop looking for movement on top of the water (typical of tarpon) and instead use the crystal clear bathtub water of the Gulf to their advantage and start looking deeper. They're rewarded. But hooking a tarpon, and keeping it on the line, are totally different animals. They can jump and break a line like no other.
00:14:00 An Audience
So, there's Harry. He's just hooked a tarpon. He's on the LONO kayak. And he's getting dragged by a 7-pound tarpon through about 5-feet of water with hundreds of onlookers from the beach watching the fiasco.
"It looks like Harry has a motor on this board, he's being pulled so fast. This fish is going 5, maybe 10 miles per hour." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
00:16:30 The Unpredictability of Nature Photography
A lot of people don't understand what quite goes into getting the perfect shot. Some of those Planet Earth photographers, for instance, can work on something for 6 months just to get one shot. For Sean, the amount of equipment he has is staggering. Not only that, he's got to very precisely fine-tune the settings for this equipment beforehand in a way that will set himself up for success. He's got to pre-focus the lens the night before based on what he thinks will happen the following day. Because there's no time during the shoot to change these settings.
"It's a big game of luck, intuition, experience, all these things come into play. It's all a guess. It's literally like winning the lottery." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
00:19:25 The Long Way Back to Destin
After a number of intense underwater shots and finagling to get the perfect shot, Sean wonders if his equipment worked properly. There's always that lurking terror that the camera malfunctioned, or worse, the man behind the camera malfunctioned. So the trip back to Destin, where Sean's computer lay waiting to determine whether he'd properly filmed the shot, was a long long trip indeed. Thankfully, he found the footage in a hidden folder.
"It shouldn't be this hard. But it is, everybody." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
00:21:48 It All Works Out
The one upside about all this nature photography stuff is that even when it doesn't work out, well, it does.
"You have an idea of what you want to happen. And from experience I know that if you're open minded things will always work out and generally they always work out better. Even if you don't catch a fish, it goes into something else that we didn't expect." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
00:22:05 The Fish Is Just a Metaphor, Man
Just as nature photography isn't always a lucrative ordeal, fishing isn't always about catching fish. So much of it is just the hunt itself. That's what makes actually catching a fish so rewarding.
00:26:10 Ten Years in the Making
It was a long time coming. But to finally have that dream moment of catching the elusive tarpon on the product they needed to catch it on come to fruition, the reward of that is just indescribable.
"I just worked really hard at it. And eventually this one took 10 years to catch the tarpon on the product that we needed to catch it on, in the right way. But it happened. The lighting was amazing. The water was clear. The fish was pretty." — Sean Murphy, Director of Photography at BOTE
00:32:35 Making Pretty Pictures Seems So Easy
But, as this episode has hopefully clarified, it most certainly isn't. The amount of work that goes into creating these shoots is painstakingly intricate. But it's precisely this dedication to detail that makes BOTE more than just an average paddle board company.
See you guys next time!