Buddy the Cat

We adopted Buddy last year after the passing of Lucy, and We had been meaning to get him in front of the camera since then. Now with winter fully upon us, and my fishing season over, our photoshoot could finally happen!  So here he is, Buddy the Cat.

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Remember folks, Your pets love you, take care of them, and make sure you show your appreciation for them!

Thank you for your continued support!

  • Rich

Schreifels Wedding Preview

Last Saturday, I had the distinct pleasure of photographing a wedding. I know that as a wedding professional, it is an everyday/ seasonal occurrence, but it really is a beautiful thing to behold. Although it was a cold day, really windy, and the sun didn’t shine one time throughout the ceremony, it was still a wonderfu experience! I would like to use this post as an opportunity to show off some of the photos from the happy day! Enjoy!

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I hope this post finds everyone well! I hope you enjoy! For information about dates, shoots, and pricing, please feel free to contact us!

  • Rich

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So much for not neglecting this….

It has been fife months since my last post. That just sank in. As I read through my last post… in MAY! I am astounded as to how far I have come since then. My last post was about growing a container garden in my three season room. Since then, the garden has moved outside since it outgrew our shelving, the tomatoes are 54” tall, the jalapeños have been harvested 3 times and are the spiciest peppers I have ever had. The super chilies are still producing and are currently flowering. I have done countless photo jobs, and Jared and I have brought Brotherhood of the Bend into the forefront of our lives. So I suppose I will start there.

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I think that I have done a few stories on fishing on this blog, and that sort of started it. In March of this year, Jared Lane and I started an organization called Brotherhood of the Bend. It’s all about fishing, and bringing fly fishing to everyone. Traditionally like Wing shooting, fly fishing is for old white dudes with money. We aim to change that. I would be remiss to say that the Bend project hasn’t taken over my life…. So for those of you who missed this blog there is the short answer on my absence.

I have also started a reorganization of my life. Balancing 3 full time positions is tedious. I’m the Ed. Coordinator at RAM (Rockford Art Museum), Co-founder of BOTB, and hell still doing enough Photo work to be a job in itself. But I felt that I was missing something. I enjoyed writing this blog, and I’m going to start doing it regularly again!

I am also excited to announce that I will be starting a new project with WetFly this coming year which I will detail later this week with Brotherhood of the Bend! Life has become very busy here in Rockford, and I think this next year will be about simplification in many aspects of my life. I am very excited to share the experiences with you.R. Hacker Photography LLC-5

So once again, I would like to invite you along on my journey this year! I’ll start with saying I’m very excited for a wedding that I am shooting Saturday! I’ll be sure to share some photos as a sneak peek next week!

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I hope that this finds everyone well! Thank you again for reading! I’m sorry if this is vague, but there is waaaay to much to fit into a single post!


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The Art of the Container Garden

If you’ve ever lived in a city or an apartment, you know the challenge of never having quite enough space. Now we are really lucky and our apartment has the perfect amount of space inside for us. We have the room to have people over and we live comfortably. However, we don’t have any sort of yard to speak of.  Which is problematic if you say want a dog or to plant a garden or just be outside it makes it a little difficult. However, we had a great solution to the garden issue. The container garden.R. Hacker Photography LLC-0024

We have a three season room in the back of our apartment that receives a ton of sunlight for most of the day. It started as a curiosity for me. I wanted to know how we could maximize space in our apartment, but still be able to grow the basics like tomatoes, peppers and herbs. We did some reading about container gardens and indoor greenhouses, and decided the best way to go about the task was just to jump in.

We bought shelving, pots, seeds, and seed pods. We spent half a day putting potting soil in pots on our front porch and planting seeds and some seed pods we decided to try out.

After spending a week of moving pots around to maximize space and available sunlight, we found the right arrangement.  We also started saving the root ends of store bought green onions. The green onions sprouted new growth within a day and after a few days, that seemed to stretch for a year, the lettuce we planted started to sprout. The other plants sprouted soon there after, but we noticed that the store bought seed pods that come containing fertilizer, a potting mix, and seeds in a biodegradable pod were not even showing signs of any sort of life. So, I did the only logical thing. I tore them apart. Upon dissection, I discovered that the pods were so tightly packed that there was no way for the seeds to break through the surface! I replanted them in normal potting soil in a well lit spot and two-days later we had sprouts.R. Hacker Photography LLC-0022

Now although we were growing most of our plants from seeds, we wanted to expedite the process a bit. We went to Menards and bought a few plants that had already been started. We purchased heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, chiles, and jalapeno plants which instantly took a liking to the space we had available to them.R. Hacker Photography LLC-0021

We’re about a month into our grow season, and with everything already sprouted and well on its way to producing a harvest, I feel like a kid waiting on Christmas! Every day I wake up and walk out to the porch to check on our little garden, and every day I’m excited to see that the plants have grown! The tags on the post say that it takes a few months to produce anything worth eating, but I’m so excited for the day when we can pick our own veggies right from the porch!

As always, thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more on the garden coming soon!

  • Rich

Spring is in the Air

I will begin by saying, I’m very, very lucky to have a significant other who indulges my love (and shares) for swinging flies into cold streams on cold days.

With that said, spring was in the air this weekend. I taught a class early on Saturday at the museum but I was getting the itch… not the bad sort of itch that needs cream, but the itch to swing tiny flies for hungry trout! Everything had finally thawed enough and I was sure the fish would be eating. So I ran home (literally ran) and could hardly contain myself.

Hillary worked her ass off for the last month for Paleofest at her museum so of course she was looking forward to a relaxed weekend, while I was looking forward to being waist deep in crystal clear cold water.  I talked her into going because it was a beautiful day. 50 degrees, sunny, not to windy, so we packed up the car with rods, beer and warm clothes, headed down the road to the river. After the longest hour car ride of my life, we finally pulled up to the bridge that marked the start of the river. I hastily put on my waders, almost falling over more than once while I put boots on. Hillary laughed saying she figured I was just going to run down to the water. We went to our usual spot, swung for about an hour or two and then decided it was time to move. I tried out my beautiful new Echo 3 Spey rod with no takes so I packed up and started to scope for a move.R. Hacker Photography LLC-0004

I headed about 150 yards up stream to the bridge where our car was parked and noticed a deep pool with tons of beautiful, big Rainbow Trout schooled up under it. I started to cast my size 22 Elk Hair Caddis up into the pool. Cast after cast, nothing would rise. I tried a couple nymph patterns. Nothing. Finally Hillary came up from the bend and asked what was working, I had no answer. I figured what the hell, time to pull out all the stops and opened up the streamer box. Wooley Buggers, Cone Heads, Big Buck Nasty Streamers, Something had to work. First cast, nothing. Second cast, nothing. Third cast with a slow strip across the hole as it drifted down, POW! Big ol’ bruiser on the line! For the next 3 or 4 hours we threw streamer after streamer with the same result. Fat Bows’ most at or over 5 lbs ate everything! 20 inches, 22 inches, and 24 inch fish for the rest of the day. We had 15 combined fish to the net, over 25 hooked up and played. Turned out to be a pretty awesome day.

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Much to my joy, Hillary caught her largest fish to date a 6 pound 25 inch Rainbow on a 6wt rod. I was so proud! I caught my share of bruisers as well biggest tipping the scale at 5 pounds. And then to top off the weekend? Sunday which was the original fishing day planned was terrible and cold! We got about 5 inches of snow Sunday night. However, the rest of the week sounds promising with the weather breaking sometime soon. Another day on the trout stream is most certainly in my future!

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As always, thanks for reading! Tight lines!


Guest Post: Jared Lane- Big Fish & Bigger Stories

IMG_1928Jared Lane is a stay at home Dad, with his PHD in Musky Hunting. As a devoted Husband and Father he splits his time between Wood Working, Estate Management, and Family, when he’s not on a river or lake with Fly Rod in hand. He is about as close as you can get to “Granola” without being crunchy! Living in the woods, growing and Hunting his food to provide for his family.Like myself, he is a member of the PostFly Box Prostaff, and an avid outdoorsman. 


In the yesteryears of (fly)fishing stories, a man was measured by the tale he could spin, not the length of the fish he lied about. Today, modern technology and Instagram have ruined that. Computers and phones have erased the mystique of fishing, the honesty of catching, and we are all now limited to the amount of yarn we can spin to a fellow angler, or unfortunate bystander, because every one wants the proof. No imagination, no thrill of the tale, just instant gratification from a “quick insta pic”.
I am a predator (fly)fisherman. I throw flies that are bigger than trout. I have never, until now, stood in shoes(waders) that would even come close to classifying me as anything close to a trout fisherman. I use a hard and brash casting method, that Orvis, and its followers frown upon. I committed to broadening my horizons this year though, and there I stepped off the snow covered ice, into the freezing cold stream. Narnia. A magical world I knew less than nothing about, but was willing to greet with roll casts and wind knots.
I knew enough to shoot for riffles, current breaks, boulders, holes, and the like. I knew enough to not take my 10wt, or the accompanying flies. I didn’t know how to not feel awkward in my waders, or even what to expect once I hooked up, but I did know I was ready for the ride.
I lost myself; surrounded by the ripple of the stream, entranced by the setting sun. I even thought to myself for a minute, thinking that trout fishermen (cough) had it figured out. I was experiencing nirvana. I was ready for a fish. A trout. A big ass brawler of a brown trout. The 1 in 5, over 15″, that the DNR said was in the river, statistically. I knew a replica of my first fish was going on the wall. I was as ready as I didn’t know I could be.
There was a big ice chuck, hung up on a flat, over hanging a pool, and I let my fly drift aimlessly by. BOOMZING, is the best way to describe the immediate sensation, and galoofly, I strip set that little sucker like it was a 50″ musky. Barbless hooks -1, the not trout fisherman-0. I waded down river and let flies go where they wanted; picked the errant bastards out of the brush, and sent them back towards a riffle.
I saw the dark mass. I read it like a trout fisherman. I squatted behind the brush, and built a false squiggle cast to play perfectly across the hole, right from the top. BOOOOOMZOOOOM ZIIIIING ZAAAAANG CLUUUUG CLUUUUG. I knew I had the brown of a lifetime. I strip set that wall hanger like it was a tarpon, and realized, I was in nirvana, trout fishing. I kept tension, and let the line play out. Tight lined, I whooped in excess. A river ran through my soul. Brad Pitt high fived me, and we ran down river chasing this dream fish. The first trout I ever went to battle with on the fly. The trout that made trout fishing even matter to me. Its zigs and zags magnified any feeling a predator on the fly ever gave me, and my 8ft 5wt was getting a work out. I was in heaven. I was a trout fisherman.
Head shakes across the river, one side to the other, my rod pounding in my hand. This exact moment, being everything that fly fishing is made of. What every fisherman’s dreams are made of. Tip up, tip down, side to side, riding the zig and the zag, for the fish that wouldn’t play out. The end of my fly line finally came into view, my fluorocarbon leader invisible to the dream, I saw the warrior, the wall hanger…
I saw my trout fishing career for what it was at that moment. I am not a trout fisherman. For several glorious, orgasmic minutes, I battled…a Nerf football sized chunk of ice, that I hooked dead center on the side. Physics kicked my butt on the river, and made a trout fisherman out of me. I will fight until I get that big ass brawler of a brown. I will fight for it until Brad Pitt is running down the river with me giving out high fives. I will fight for the legend, and the story. Until then, keep your lines tight, one way or the other.
As always thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed!
For more stories, product reviews, and photos from our fishing adventures follow us on Facebook at: Brotherhood of the Bend
Tight Lines
– Rich

The Incredible Photo Nook

When we moved about a month ago, I got seriously lucky and there was enough closet space to house not only all my fishing and camping gear but arguably more important my photo gear. Now this includes gear for weddings, wildlife photography, portrait sittings, and all matter of studio shooting.

I can’t really describe how lucky I am to have so much space to store stuff or to have a girlfriend who is alright with having so much stuff in the apartment. But, I digress. This weekend, Hillary baked some amazing bread and the photographer in me said hey we gotta share this piece of work! So I grabbed my camera and took about shooting this bread. However the light over the kitchen table was just not doing it for the subject (the delicious crusty bread). As I searched frantically for good light, Hillary made the discovery of my very own perfect photo nook. R. Hacker Photography LLCBackground on our apartment: we live in Rockford, one row of houses off the river,where the sun travels from one side of our home to another during the day. Each of our closets (because our home is 100 years old) has a cool window in it. We have a three season room that is all windows and the rest of our house gets great light for the better part of the day.  We have discovered that possibly the best light in the house comes from a very unlikely place. The best place in the house to photograph is… our pantry. The pantry has this fantastic window and a lovely little shelf in it and it made a pretty photograph of that bread!

Now you might ask, what makes this tiny room so special? During the morning, the light reflects off the next door neighbor’s house directly into our window. This light lasts about four hours. Because it is reflected light, it is cool white light, which gives things a nice cool tint. Then as the sun moves over our house, we get direct light into the window which is a lovely warm light with a yellow glow. So basically, the only bad time to take photos in the nook is the time when the sun has set and the lights are off. Otherwise, the room gets two types of perfect light depending on the mood of the photograph you are trying to create!

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Unfortunately not everything that I normally photograph will be able to fit in the nook, but you can bet that you haven’t seen the last use of the best photo nook ever!

Redington and the Vapen

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Redington is my go-to brand for fly rods. From my first forays into fly fishing, to my more recent (and more advanced) fishing pursuits I’ve been so pleased with both the performance of their rods and their accessibility for people at all different price points.  I’ve learned with them, I’ve pushed them to their limits, I’ve caught most of my most memorable fish on them, and I’ve grown as a fly fisherman.

I started buying Redington Rods about 4 years ago, I started with the mid-line Classic Trout series. I was happy with the rod, and super happy with the price point as someone who new to the sport.  Then I went for some classic glass when I discovered the Butterstick. Originally I was sold fully on the fact that it has a crazy yellow and orange finish, but after fishing small creek trout and panfish, I was sold on the action and response. As I improved, I moved up the list of the Redington rod purchases, each with greater skill requirements, and I landed on the Vapen.

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For those of you looking for a professional level rod at a price that won’t make you cry, the Vapen, Vapen Red, and Vapen Black are your absolute best bet. I personally have a Vapen 7 weight, Vapen 3 weight and a Vapen Black 6 weight, and along with 7 other Redington rods. (It really has grown to almost an addiction. Redington was the only choice for the first fly rod I gifted anyone – more about that HERE.) The Vapen series, including the Red and Black series, are the most incredible rods for their price point and, in my opinion, are worth far more than is charged for them. I know people who have paid double for a rod less capable and less versatile than any of my three Vapens.

So, when you are in the market for a new fly rod I urge you to give Redington’s rods a look. I’d wager that no matter what rod series you choose to go with, you’ll end up being a happy fisherman!

Hoo-Rag: Truly the Better Bandana

For those of you who have ever spent time on the water, or in the sun, you know you need to protect your skin on those long days in the elements. There are plenty of options, and even more brands, some of which will tell you anything you want to hear to get you to buy their product. I, personally, am a big fan of bandanas and buffs to keep the sun off, the bugs out, and the wind at bay. Recently, I was lucky enough to get in contact with the folks from Hoo-Rag, and give their product a try.

I was very impressed with the buffs from Hoo-Rag from the moment I opened the package. The designs are striking and awesome! I was really sold when I tired them on; I have a thick neck, a big beard and a very large, bald, dome. I have a hard time with fitted hats and the more close cut buffs. The Hoo-Rag buffs really are the “better bandana!” They are close cut enough to stay in place, but not so small that they are tight, restrictive or uncomfortable.R. Hacker Photography LLC

I used to be loyal to one brand because I didn’t know there was anything else out there. However, that brand runs a bit small on me and can be kinda pricey. If I wear it on my head, I end up with a headache if I wear it around my neck; my neck fills the entire space. Now I’m not a huge dude. Not terribly overweight or a meat head, just a normal dude. This brand is not geared for guys or girls with normal sized body parts. After about 6 months of wearing almost every day, finally the gear was comfortable.

The Hoo-Rag buffs are great right out of the package! Brand new, the rag was super comfortable, super stretchy, and best of all didn’t choke me, squeeze my noggin or mess my beard up to badly! The only unfortunate thing about it was my timing – I contacted Hoo-Rag during the winter, and for the last 2 months I haven’t been able to spend much time outside! I’m dying to wear my new Hoo’s out in the sun, in the elements, and see just how much better they are!R. Hacker Photography LLC-2

Hoo-Rags have the R. Hacker Photography seal of approval! If you’re looking for a sick bandana or a new sweet looking headband, I fully stand behind Hoo-Rag. As the weather gets better, as I break back out my fly rods, or get back out for a hike, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll see more posts about the “better bandana”!

Back At It


After a long unintentional break, I’m finally back at the desk to share with ya’ll!

In my time off, I went through another career change, a move, and gained a little more knowledge of some products that will greatly improve my time (and hopefully your time!) on the water!

Not to make any excuses, but man have I been busy! Since my last post, I went down to Tennessee with my family to go on our annual deer hunt, where we were blessed with three beautiful deer, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the family and before Christmas, I started a new position as Education Coordinator for the Rockford Art Museum.  I took over a program that was well established, with a great group of people who are excited to have me as a colleague. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be in this position! I have the opportunity to do very cool things with all sorts of different groups including: adults, art teachers, and K-12 home school and public school students. My first big undertaking will be the coordination of the 74th Annual Young Artist Show, an art show consisting of students art from every surrounding community within 50 miles of Rockford.

However, with a new job and a 3.5 hour commute everyday of course there wasn’t much time to write, there wasn’t much time for much actually…

My girlfriend has been working in, and commuting to Rockford for her job at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, for three years. (Side note: you can check out some of her work at No Stone Unturned, Burpee Museum’s blog!) With my new position, we made a decision that we should look for a place to live a bit closer to work.  After three weeks of late nights searching the web and viewing sub-par apartments, we finally found a place that we could both be happy with! Not only is it adjacent to the Rock River, which will be amazing in the summer, it is blocks from work for both of us! Now we leave 15 minutes before work starts and get to work early. We leave at the end of the day, and we’re home ten minutes later. There really is something to say for the convenience of being able to walk to work and have some time in your evening to relax instead of just go to bed and head back to work.R. Hacker Photography LLC

So now that I’m all settled in, I will apologize for being out of touch for those of you who follow my work. For those of you who I’ve neglected, please forgive me and get ready for some new posts and photos coming later this week!

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for your continued support! Tight Lines!

  • Rich