Lefty Double Vision Blog
Selling photos to support fishing magazine stories has been a source of income for me since I began my writing career. In the early 1950s only four fishing/hunting magazines were published in the United States: Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field & Stream and the smaller Fur-Fish-Game.
Back then, cameras were bulky and therefore hard to lug around. And of course using film limited the number of photos you could take without reloading. Magazine editors wanted the stories to be informational and attractive. The problem was that photos were rarely submitted with the text in those days, and because of that, editors were forced to commission paintings (which were expensive) to illustrate a large portion of the magazine’s content.
During this period, I was writing outdoor columns for several local newspapers and became good friends with local photographers who, I felt, were on the cutting edge of the profession. One friend started using a 35 mm camera, and luckily, he shared his knowledge of photography with me.
Early on, I’d have my fishing buddies take photos of me while holding fish. Unfortunately, more often than not, while going through the rolls of film after they’d been developed, I’d notice that most of the frames were out of focus or crooked or my head would be cut off. Needless to say, most of the photos I sold were the ones that I shot myself.
In 1964, I moved to Miami to manage the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament, which at the time was the largest and most prestigious fishing tournament in the country. Not long after that, I was introduced to Bob Hewes, who ran a nearby boat company located downtown on the Miami River. He and I formed an instant bond and therefore started fishing together.
Some time later Bob mentioned to me that he was going to build a boat designed specifically for flats fishing.
A few days later, the two of us met for lunch and talked about the design of the boat. He asked for my opinion on how he should go about building it, and I encouraged him to get intel from flats anglers themselves and find out what they’d want and not want in such a boat. Soon after, Bob went on to build the Hewes Bonefisher — an instant success.
In the latter part of the 1960s, it became more difficult to sell editors photos because there were more people shooting with quality cameras. I needed an edge, so I bought a 16-foot Mariner lightweight aluminum boat from my good friend Bob and asked if he’d paint one side yellow and the other side bright red. “Are you crazy?” he answered. I explained my request and after a while he relented. Proudly, I towed it home. When my son Larry saw those two colors he said, “Dad, I’m not riding in that thing.”
Inside, I’d stow several differently sized raincoats and various shirts. My hometown friend Paul Crum arrived a few days later to fish with me. His first catch was a nice snook. I waded out on the red side while Paul held the fish just above the surface against the red background. I then had Paul tote the snook to the yellow side of the boat, and again I snapped several frames. I then had him slip on a blue jacket over his shirt and we repeated the operation. The results were four separate photos of the same fish. Three were sold within the year.
Bob Montgomery was a sailor at the Key West naval base and decided to get out of the service. He stopped in at the Met Tournament office saying he wanted to be a guide and had his captain’s license. He was considering buying an offshore to run out of Key West, but I convinced him to run a skiff instead and told him I’d help him assemble the necessary boat and tackle.
Soon after, my son Larry and I were running north outside a flat at Snipe Key and saw Montgomery with a client anchored up for bonefish. He waved and I waved back. “Who was that?” the client asked Montgomery. “That was Lefty Kreh,” he replied.
An hour or so later, we passed by the flat again and Montgomery and his client were still on the hook. Once again, he waved and I did the same. Again, the client asked who he was waving to, and Montgomery responded, “Oh, that’s just Lefty again.” The client replied, “I didn’t believe you before when you said that was Lefty — now I’m sure I don’t believe you. That first guy was in a red boat; this one is yellow.”