It takes a team to make the Rodeo function. For the past 10 years, an important part of that team has been the father-son duo of John and Jake Brashears.
Ten years ago, John Brashears had one goal: to be the official photographer for the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
He took his proposal to Rodeo director Helen Donaldson, who at first told him no.
“She said Richard (Laedeke, a long-time photographer and current Rodeo volunteer) was her guy, and Richard would be her guy,” John recalled. “And I said, ‘Fair enough.’”
But two weeks later, he got a call from Donaldson.
“She said Richard was moving to South Florida to help his mom, and was I still interested in being the photographer. And abra-cadabra, here we are.”
And just like that, John’s company For Reel Photos became the official photography company for the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
For four years, John took pictures of every fish and angler that came to the docks, documenting precious memories for fishermen from all over the world. And six years ago, his son Jake, who is now 31 years old, stepped into the picture. Jake volunteered to help his dad with photos during snapper season, and as John recalls it, he became “hooked.”
“Jake came down one summer to help and then hung around for the Rodeo, and he was hooked,” John said. “Now, For Reel Photos is Jake’s company and I’m the relief pitcher. I step in when he needs help.”
Jake said working with his dad is “always a lot of fun,” and their skills complement each other well.
“It’s pretty cool working together because we’ve just gotten on the same wavelength over the years,” he said. “When it gets real busy, we go into this mode and we know what has to be done. We’re on the same page without having to try.”
As a father-son duo, the Brashears boys have officially become a core part of the Rodeo. They are down on the docks every day during the month of October. Jake takes photos of all the fish and the anglers who catch them, while John helps gut and hang the fish.
John is also on the Rodeo board, and both John and Jake help with rule creation and enforcement, as well as keeping the leaderboard organized and updated each day. The Brashears also count “ZZ Jake,” whose real name is Jake Funk, as part of their family, as well as everyone who works to make the fishing tournament a success.
“It’s really the people who make it enjoyable,” Jake said. “I met a lot of lifelong friends here, and we’re super close with all of them. I even met my girlfriend, the love of my life, down here.”
“Me and Jake and ZZ, we do our part, but it’s really a team effort for the whole thing,” John said. “We couldn’t do it without Bruce Cheves, Ann White, Helen Donaldson, Marion Palmgren, Kimmy Meyers and all the judges who volunteer. It’s really a community deal.”