Katmai National Park, Alaska

There has never been a better time to be a nature photographer. In the last decade, we have witnessed a revolution in digital photo technology. Guided tours travel to wilderness areas that were once the sole province of National Geographic and BBC film crews.

There has never been a worse time to make a living as a nature photographer, since everyone and their dog can now go out on holiday, make amazing pictures and give them away on the internet for nothing.

The hard part for professionals is thinking of images that will show the world in a new way, to create pictures that people haven’t seen before.

War photographer Robert Capa famously said “If you’re pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. For his trouble he was blown up by a land mine, but it’s still advice worth considering.

There’s a lot you can do with a 600mm lens from prudent distances. Showing the context of an animal within it’s environment isn’t necessarily one of them. From a closer distance, you can include more depth, more context, show the animal as it lives within the landscape. I’ve worked to get my cameras closer to subjects. Sometimes it’s by using remote cameras and new technology. With mixed results.

That’s not to say there isn’t a steep learning curve.

I wanted to show how Alaska’s coastal brown bears have different strategies for catching salmon. There are sprinters and stalkers, beggars and bullies, splashers and swimmers.It got me thinking about a salmon’s eye view of those bears. What’s the last thing they see on their way to salmon heaven? It took more than a year of planning and a lot of trial and error to make it work.

I dragged along a surf housing on a tripod, triggered by a radio remote and set it up in a salmon spawning stream. And then I sat down on the river bank and waited.

Photographed September 8, 2008 with a Canon EOS 40D and 500mm f/4 lens

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