Grizzlies of Khutzeymateen BC with Dave Hutchison and Shane McDermott

VisionQuest PhotoJourney – Get straight to the heart of powerful image making in this once-in- a-life time opportunity to finally break though any limiting barriers of your greatest creative expression. We’ll help you “awaken your unique creative vision” through your love of nature photography.

Come away with the extraordinary experience of images that finally reveal everything you see and feel! Allow the energy of these huge bears, the magic of this enchanted wildlife sanctuary and expert creative guidance to unleash your artistic genius.

The Khutzeymateen estuary provides a small number of photographers the rare opportunity for up close and intimate wildlife encounters. Within stunning coastal mountain landscapes, we’ll encounter big bears, little bears, marine mammals, eagles and dozens of other bird
species. Possible encounters include wolves, wolverines, mountain goats, mink, otters and many other small mammals.

Imagine, yourself and only seven other participants granted exclusive access to freely explore 44,000 hectares of coastal British Columbia’s most pristine and abundant wildlife sanctuary, Join us and experience life changing wildlife encounters, spectacular back country luxury and food, stunning aerial scenery, small town coastal charm and expert native guidance.

Alaska Bears of Katmai with Shiv Verma

Coastal Grizzly Bears and Walrus will be our primary subjects but we may also see Wolf, Lynx, Moose, Beaver, Caribou, Dall sheep, Seals, Fox, Sea Otters, Tundra Swan, Puffins, and Bald Eagles. This is the best location on Planet Earth to observe and photograph the giant coastal grizzlies (brown bears). In this perfect wilderness, you will watch bears fishing for salmon, digging for clams, eating sedge grasses or grazing on blueberries on the alpine tundra. Visit one of the world’s only photographable walrus pods on a remote Baring Sea beach.

The lodge provides a true wilderness experience. Iliamna and Redoubt are two active volcanoes in Lake Clark National Park. Iliamna has not erupted recently but is frequently seen steaming from its summit fumaroles. Redoubt erupted in the spring of 2009. Both these volcanoes provide an excellent backdrop for coastal brown bear photography.

Alaska Bears at Lake Clark with Jess Lee

This is one of the best times for photographing these grizzly and their young cubs. You will have internationally acclaimed and long time bear photographer, Jess Lee, at your side giving instruction on how to get the best photos of cubs playing, brown bears courting, and the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge.
You are invited to join Jess with a small group of adventurous photographers on this great Alaska Bear Photo trip. We will fly in our private bush planes directly from Anchorage to our lodge on the edge of the fabulous Lake Clark National Park wilderness for 6 days and 5 nights of pure Alaskan wilderness wildlife photography heaven. Our lodge (Silver Salmon) is first rate in its comfortable accommodations, food, and hospitality. Even the bears love this place, we often watch them in the yard from our dining room.
When you are with Jess, the first goal will be for you to capture great photos. You will take advantage of Jess’s vast experience of knowing wildlife behavior and nearly 4 decades of photographing bears. The majestic Brown Bear or Alaskan Grizzly will be our main quarry, but nearby pelagic bird populations, including horned and tufted puffins, black-legged kittiwakes and murres. Bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and harbor seals can also be targeted. Scenic backdrops include volcanic Mt. Iliama, Mt. Redoubt, and Augustine volcano, all part of Cook Inlet’s “ring of fire.”
Late June is a transition time for bears at Lake Clark. The breeding season is just winding down and the mother bears with their new cubs are just starting to show up. This gives photographers a great variety of interactive scenes between the bears. After mid July the bears start to disperse into the mountains and along the coast. This area is a concentration point of bears and their activities from mid June to mid July with daily bear photography opportunities of numbers of bears in the teens. Later in the season it is possible to only see from 1-3 bears on the trip. Late June is also usually the peak of the flower bloom and bears love lupines.
All of this makes Jess”s Alaska adventure a favorite. Touted in Outside Magazine and one of the top Alaska Bear photography trips. You will not only spend your time filling your hard drives with great images, but you will learn many of the techniques used to produce fabulous award winning photographs from one of today’s best working photographers. Jess will be available to review your work, giving you suggestions and examples of how to make your images stand out from the crowd. He will show you some of his processing techniques for not only editorial images, but some of the latest work flow using NIK software to help you produce stunning fine art prints. In the field, Jess will be shooting alongside you and taking time to offer advice on how to shoot and what to look for in grizzly bear behaviors to make your images special.
In this atmosphere, Jess will take time to give individual instruction while we are shooting. This is where you can learn best at a time when you can directly apply what you are learning. There will be time during the mid day breaks to study and fine tune the skills you will come to master.
All participants should be in Anchorage the day prior to our departure. We will be flying out of Anchorage early the morning of the 26th for Lake Clark. We will return to Anchorage mid day on the last day of our adventure. Weather delays, though not frequent, are possible so we suggest you book your return flights home the day after your return to Anchorage.
6 days and 5 nights from Anchorage, including meals and bush flights to our wilderness lodge. Lodging , meals, and transportation in Anchorage is not included. Plan to arrive in Anchorage on the 25th to be ready for our early bush flight on the 26th. $750.00 non refundable deposit holds your place with this small group of Alaskan photography adventurers.

Conservation: Alaskan Beauty

Story and Photography by Tyler Hartje


Winding rivers serve as the lifeblood of this dynamic ecosystem, carrying fresh water and nutrients to the tundra.  © Tyler Hartje

I couldn’t help but stare out the window during the short 45 minute flight from Anchorage to Iliamna — my home base for the next week as I sought to photograph the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) and maybe catch a glimpse of the elusive coastal wolf (Canis lupus). Coming from Seattle, Washington, I am no stranger to vast mountain ranges, winding rivers, and large bodies of water, but the Alaskan scenery left me awestruck. I couldn’t believe that I was going to spend the next week in this incredible place. Continue reading