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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
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The Great Alaskan Grizzly Photo Adventure
New Itinerary

The Great Alaskan Grizzly Photo Adventure

From our private small ship, step ashore for amazing close-ups of enormous Alaskan brown bears as they forage for clams and fish for salmon on the beach.
8 Days / June – Sep, From $8895 (+air)
New Itinerary
The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter

The Great Alaskan 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.
8 Days / Jun – Sep, From $8895 (+air)
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