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Travel Stories

5 Tips for Photographing Grizzly Bears

By Peter Davis Krahenbuhl 

The opportunity to experience and photograph a giant brown bear in its natural habitat is, in a word, awesome! And photos don’t lie. In fact, we would go so far as to suggest that images of Alaska’s enormous brown bears are among the most iconic wildlife photos on Earth.
If you are fortunate enough to go on a brown bear viewing and photography tour, we highly recommend our Alaska Coastal Grizzlies Photo Tour—a private ship-based adventure where you can see the largest coastal grizzlies in the world as they gorge on spawning salmon in the Alaskan wild. It’s truly a sight to behold. If you go, here are five key tips to keep in mind in order to capture the best, most awe-inspiring images possible.

Brown bear with salmon.

  1. Know your window.

    Salmon run season is short, and it fluctuates year to year, so there is never a guarantee you’ll see it. As such, check with your tour operator about the timing of peak runs (unfortunately, nature doesn’t work around particular holiday schedules!). In general, though, salmon runs begin the last week of July and continue through August.

    Travelers photographing brown bears.
  2.  Sit on it.

    Great wildlife images often occur when you are situated at eye level with the animals, which often means getting down below standing level, sitting on the ground, or sitting on a small camping chair.
    Brown bears clamming with cubs.
  3. Read up!

    Read about grizzly bear habits, mannerisms and characteristics so that you can anticipate their behavior in advance. Keep in mind that, as with humans, all grizzly bears have individual personality traits.

  4. Take 2 or 3 or 4.

    In addition to reading up on mannerisms, watch a particular bear for repeat behavior, which you can then anticipate, visualize for your photo, and take advantage of in your quest to capture the moment.

    Travelers in Katmai.
  5. Dress to impress.

    Yourself, that is, by being fully prepared for the wildly varying and extreme Alaska weather. You may be wearing shorts one day (mmm, mosquito heaven), or you may need a down jacket, even in summer. Check with your Adventure Specialist and make sure you follow Nat Hab’s packing list to the tee.


Check out these great Alaska wildlife viewing and photography tours and put your photography skills to the test!

All Photos: Brad Josephs

Photograph Giant Grizzlies on These Tours
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
Wild Alaska Grizzly Encounter

Wild Alaska Grizzly Encounter

An exclusive small-ship adventure to view the world's largest coastal grizzlies up close! Walk the shores as enormous brown bears dig for clams, forage for grasses and pursue salmon in tidal pools.

  Photo departures available
8 or 10 Days / Jun–Sep / From $9495 (+air)
Limited to 8 Travelers
Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari
New Itinerary!

Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari

See more of wild Alaska on an intimate small-group adventure to Alaska's best wildlife spots, including the brown bears of Brooks Falls, Kenai Fjords and the backcountry wilderness of Denali National Park.

  Photo departures available
13 Days / Jun–Aug / From $13395 (+air)
Limited to 14 Travelers
New Itinerary!
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Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures 2022 Catalog

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View Our 2022 Digital Catalog
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Natural Habitat Adventures 2022 Catalog
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Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here
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