Brown Bear Photography Tour Alaska by Boat

Katmai, Alaska, USA

Brown bear closeup portrait © Greg Downing

Discover brown bear photography opportunities those at lodges won’t get to see. Navigate Alaska bays aboard the Coastal Explorer for ultimate flexibility.

On this Alaskan photography adventure, nature photographer and Alaskan resident Carl Donohue offers for a one-of-a-kind coastal brown bear and Alaskan wildlife photo tour. Supported by the Coastal Explorer, the best Alaskan bear charter boat in the bear viewing business, with renowned Alaskan Captain Chuck Keim at the helm, you will be hard pressed to find a better team to lead the way.

Coastal Explorer boat, Alaska

Valuable Flexibility for the Best Brown Bear Photography Opportunities

From our private boat we will have the mobility to navigate the coast of Katmai National Park, exploring some of the best bear viewing locations in Alaska including Geographic Harbor, Hallo Bay, Kukak Bay, and Kanak Bay. While on our journey if we find one particular location that’s really ideal, we will have the option to stay and shoot there for as long as we want to. This valuable flexibility provides us with unprecedented opportunities to photograph brown bears in a myriad of different environments.

Brown bear photography map, Alaska


This Alaska photography tour departs from Kodiak Island with a short flight to our home for a week, a 70′ specially designed bear boat.

Over the course of 1 week, we’ll use the Coastal Explorer along with Chuck’s small skiff to move up and down the coast of the Alaska Peninsula and the incomparable Katmai National Park. You’ll get to explore the world-famous Hallo Bay, Kukak Bay, Kanak Bay, and Geographic Harbor. Without a doubt, Katmai National Park and the Alaska Peninsula offer the greatest brown bear photography opportunities in the world!

Brown bear with cub © Greg Downing

“Greg was an excellent leader, working hard to get everyone the best possible photographic opportunities. He made himself always available for questions, instruction, and constructive criticism. He ROCKS!” –Lori R.

Mobility is a Huge Benefit for Brown Bear Photography


We’ll have the freedom to look for other wildlife and different backgrounds and locations, behaviors, and different bears.


Since we’ll be traveling by boat (rather than being stuck at a lodge), we can move with tides and weather patterns to position ourselves for the best photography opportunities. There’s simply no other way to be able to shoot in so many different locations with so many different bears in a 1 week timeframe. Nothing beats being mobile for bear photography in Alaska.

Mother nature doesn’t work on our, your, or anyone else’s schedule. So the ability to travel up and down the coast to various locations is important to a successful bear photography tour. We can rest during the day or do some sightseeing, looking for seals, sea otters, and eagles! One year we even saw two orcas.

Alaska bear with fish catch © Greg Downing

Visit the Greatest Locations in the World for Brown Bear Photography

Another advantage over other bear tours offered is the sheer number of bears here. Instead of heading to a comfortable lodge for the week, with maybe 5–10 bears around, we’ll see countless bears—possibly as many as 30 or 40! Visiting early in the season means bears are hungry, active, and they’ll concentrate on the first available food sources like coastal sedge grasses and protein-rich clams on the shoreline. There’s a good possibility of catching action shots of the bears playing and fighting. Coastal brown bears gather here in incredible numbers and the shooting will be absolutely fantastic.

Alaska bear and snowy mountains © Expeditions Alaska

Magnificent Alaskan mountain ranges provide a backdrop for this Alaska photography tour that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Towering snow-capped peaks, jagged rugged crags, a sea of rich green sedge grass, and the beauty of the Katmai coast make this a fantastic place for those ‘bears in the landscape’ shots that unequivocally declare “Alaska.”

Alaska Wildlife Photography Opportunities

While nothing in nature is 100% guaranteed, this tour will aim to photograph a variety of other species in addition to coastal brown bears. Typically, we’re able to get great photography opportunities with sea otter, Harbor seal, bald eagles, and variety of gulls and other coastal birds and, frequently (but not always) wolves. On some trips we’ve spotted orca and moose. We’ll also look for opportunities to photograph puffins.

We will plan our time to maximize our opportunities with all those species available to us. Weather and countless other factors will play into those decisions as we go.

Bald eagle in Alaska © Expeditions Alaska

Harbor seal close-up © Expeditions Alaska

Brown bear fishing © Expeditions Alaska

What Sets this Alaska Bear Tour Apart

You simply can’t beat local experience when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. On this Alaska bear tour you’ll have two seasoned Alaskan guides, one of which is a professional nature photographer, both working together to offer you the best experience in a small setting with a strict maximum of 8 participants. No other photo tour company can match this.


Carl DonohueCarl brings a wealth of backcountry and photography experience to this tour. He’s photographed Alaska’s coastal brown bears intensively for over 10 years now across much of the state and has solid experience with their behavior. He has also been guiding both backcountry and front country trips for over 10 years, so he’s comfortable in his role as a leader and guide. Carl is also a certified Wilderness First Responder and experienced at dealing with backcountry situations. Having experienced and trained medical help is crucial.
Chuck Keim

Chuck has been running his charter business for over 20 years now, and there’s simply no one in the business with anywhere close to his experience. He’s the person so many of the world’s foremost wildlife photographers, filmmakers, and researchers turn to when they want to do great bear photography. Chuck’s absolutely “the guy.”

Small Group Size

The maximum number of participants for this Alaska bear photography tour is limited to 8. Our small group size is fundamental to making this experience the best if can be for all participants.

Brown bear photography tour © Expeditions Alaska

As Always, Safety First

Both your own and the bears’ safety is paramount. We take the extra step to make sure your photo tour is a safe one. We pay close attention to the bears and their behavior and follow their lead on what’s OK and what’s not OK for us to do. No exceptions.

Brown bears playing © Greg Downing

What to Bring Along

You’ll want to bring your enthusiasm, your love of wilderness, adventure, good times, and a sense of wonder. In the physical sense, bring your camera gear and clothing for a week. Quality rain gear and warm clothing is essential in Alaska at any time of year. You’ll also want to be in decent shape for short day hikes and jaunts along the beach with your camera gear on your back.

A packet full of complete information including specific gear and packing recommendations will be provided to you several months prior to the tour so you can prepare.

Alaska charter flight, Katmai © Expeditions Alaska


  • Round trip charter flight to/from Kodiak
  • Discounted lodging at Kodiak should you require staying overnight
  • All first-rate accommodations on the boat with sleeping quarters in comfortable cabins for 6 nights
  • All home-cooked meals on the boat; food will often include fresh seafood, such as halibut or tanner crab, caught and prepared while we are on shore photographing
  • All guiding services with licensed local guides and first responder certification
  • All field instruction including help with camera settings, long lens technique, and anything else you’d like to learn
  • 5 full days shooting plus 2 half days
  • Satellite phone and emergency equipment

Does Not Include

  • Transportation between Anchorage and Kodiak
  • Extra nights in Kodiak or Anchorage (we can help arrange and have discounted lodging in Kodiak)

If you would like to register for this workshop, please fill out our registration form. A non-refundable deposit (listed above) is required to reserve your spot. Please refer to our workshop information section for our cancellation and refund policies.

Workshop Information
  • Dates: Aug. 6-12, 2020 (10 openings)
                Aug. 12-18, 2020 (10 openings)
  • Cost: $7,995
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Participants: 10
Includes all accommodations (double occupancy), all meals, all guiding services, all field instruction, and round-trip charter flight to/from Kodiak.

Chuck Keim

Chuck Keim

Chuck Keim has been running his charter business for 20 years now, and there’s simply no one in the business with anywhere close to his experience. He’s the person so many of the world’s foremost wildlife photographers and filmmakers and researchers turn to when they need great brown bear photography. Chuck’s absolutely “the guy”.

Carl Donohue

Carl Donohue

“I’m a wilderness advocate, and consider my photography a critical part of that journey. I'm also a fan of the creative process, of creating, of the experience of making art, which reflects the wildness within our selves; is creating art in the external wilderness perhaps a perfect union? When possible, I write, photograph, hike, camp and dally in the places I love; when I can’t, I imagine I’m writing, photographing, hiking, camping and dallying in the places I love,” says Carl Donohue. Continue reading »