There is not a cooler wildlife photography adventure on the planet than the five days I spent in Alaska photographing Grizzly Bears (Coastal Brown Bears) If you have not considered going on a Grizzly Bear photography tour you really should add it to your bucket list. It really is unbelievable how these bears have learned over time to co-exist with humans. The areas where the bear photography workshops are held have been protected from hunting for 30 plus years so these bears have an inherent trust and respect for humans, as we do for them, like no where else on earth. This makes for a very safe yet exhilarating bear photography experience as you can see from the bear pictures included in my gallery. These shots are taken up close and personal and at eye level. To give you a better perspective many of my bear pictures in the Coastal Brown Bear gallery were shot with a Nikon 70-200mm on a full frame camera, yes I was that close.
As you might expect there is a high demand and group sizes are limited for Grizzly Bear workshops thus the opportunities are few and you need to book well in advance if you want to secure a spot.
COOLWildlife Workshop Recommendation:
I highly recommend Marc Latremouille of Wingstretch.com as he runs a first class Grizzly Bear workshop, heck he’ll even let you borrow a lens if you’re a Canon shooter and spend the time after days shoot to walk you through workflows for Photoshop editing so you come away with award winning Grizzly Bear pictures of your own.
Marc offers two workshops per season and both are in June so you can expect to observe and photograph mothers nursing and playing with young cubs, cubs playing with one another, courting behaviours which can get very intense, bears digging and eating razor clams during low tide and feeding on sedge grass and other comical episodes like cubs chasing gulls, ravens and generally raising hell with anything that moves.
The location Marc hosts his Grizzly Bear workshops in is Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska and the scenery alone is breath-taking. You’ll have magnificent volcanic mountain ranges as backdrops, acres and acres of beautiful sedge grass fields and infinite coast line so the photographic opportunities are endless. Your portfolio will range from full frame bear images to “bearscape” images, and everything in between.
You are always in the capable hands of a professionally trained bear guide (not Marc) who will locate the bears and drive you via ATV or comfortable buggy to the bears which is sometimes right out the back door or a short 10-15 minute drive from the lodge. The guide and Marc will work closely together to put you in the best possible spot to get winning bear images while at the same time keeping you safe and not disturbing the bears. It’s a fine balance but the bear guides have a lot of experience in making this happen so you won’t likely even notice the back stage happenings.
Although coastal brown bears will the main focus, Marc will also arrange for the group to go visit and photograph, via boat, a puffin and muir rookery Island for a half day trip (weather permitting). And of course you can expect to see a variety of other wildlife including bald eagles, a variety of songbirds, black bears and porcupines. You will be immersed in a true Alaskan wilderness adventure!
More on Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Lake Clark has been called “the essence of Alaska”, and is concentrated in a relatively small area of the Alaska Peninsula, Southwest of Anchorage. It is rather unique in that it combines a variety of features not found together in any of the other Alaska Parks: the junction of three mountain ranges, (the Alaska Range from the North, the Aleutian Range from the South, and the park’s own rugged Chigmit Mountains), two active volcanoes (Iliamna and Redoubt), a coastline with rain forests on the East, a plateau with tundra on the West, and turquoise lakes.
No roads lead to Lake Clark. This park can only be reached by boat and small aircraft. The park, one of the least visited in the National Park System, presents its few visitors a wonderful opportunity to experience true northern wilderness.
June 15-20, 2018 (5 Available Spots)
Price: $5250.00 USD each workshop. Minimum of 4 participants and maximum of 6 participants.
Deposit: $1500.00USD (non-refundable unless I can fill your spot or the minimum number of participant is not met).
Balance: The balance of the workshop fee is due 30 days prior to your workshop.
- Round trip airfare, via small plane, from Anchorage, Alaska to our Lodge in Lake Clark National Park.
- All meals (3/day, prepared fresh by an excellent in-house chef).
- Accommodations during your stay at the lodge (double occupancy). Single occupancy possible based on availability (extra charge will apply).
- Expert bear guide and transportation to the bears during your stay at the lodge (available early mornings up to 9-10pm).
- All photographic field instructions, image reviews with Photoshop courses in an informal setting. Projectors also available.
- Scenic half day boat trip to the Puffin and Muir rookery Island (weather permitting).
- Marc’s smiling face and sense of humour
- Your airfare TO and FROM Anchorage Alaska.
- Meals and accommodations in Anchorage, Alaska. As stated above it is recommended that you plan to arrive one day before the workshop to avoid possible weather delays.
- Alcoholic beverages and tips/gratuities.
For further details or to secure your spot contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Few Travel Tips:
- Weather is Alaska is very unpredictable so plan to arrive in Alaska a day before your trip begins else you risk missing a day or two on the front end.
- Subscribe to flight cancellation insurance there are too many variables not within your control. I think it cost me approx $200 for that peace of mind.
- Carry two bodies with you, one with a longer lens and one with a shorter lens as the opportunities for bear images are varied and can happen quickly so changing lenses is not always an option especially if it’s raining.
- I carried my longer lens on a tripod and had my shorter lens on a cotton carrier although I think I’d opt for the Black Rapid next trip as the cotton carrier got in the way if I was lying down to get a shot.
- Don’t get carried away with head shots, remember to take landscape shots and verticals as the scenery is spectacular in its own right and some of the best pictures I have seen emphasize the environment more than the bear itself.
- Bring the appropriate clothing. It can be wet and cold so look up seasonal temperatures and be prepared for the worst. In all months you’ll require gloves, warm hat, layers and water proof shells.
- If you’re lucky enough to get some warmer weather you’ll be needing bug repellent and perhaps a head net, personally I’ll take the cold any day.
- Marc will provide you with a full list of things to bring and what’s provided, etc. well before the trip so you’ll be well prepared.