Mother Brown Bear & Cub: NWF Photo Contest Winner

As the old saying goes, “f/8 and be there.” That can be just as true of wildlife photography. Even after 12 years of photographing Alaskan Coastal Brown bears every summer, I am surprised with new opportunities each time. This photo of a sow (mother bear) playing “hide and seek” with her cub just won 1st place in the Professional Mammals (I think that means that the photographer is a professional – not the animalsSmile) category of the National Wildlife Federation 2011 photo competition. I’m frankly really honored, as the other winning images are all amazing. A special shout out to fellow bear watchers and dedicated biologists Laura Romin and Larry Dalton, who took first place in the Amateur Baby Animals contest. The images are all showcased on the NWF website and in the November issue of their magazine.

Aside from knowing enough about bear biology to realize that mothers with one cub make great subjects – they interact much more with their surviving cubs than moms with more than one cub, the magic of this photo was being in the right place at the right time, and keeping my photo setup simple enough that I could press the shutter at the peak of action, as the cub placed its paws over the mother’s eyes. If you’d like to join us and create some award-winning images of your own, we’ll be leading another pair of workshops focusing on bears and puffins this coming July. We hope you can join us!


Entry Caption:
After losing her other cubs, this mother Alaskan coastal brown bear became a playmate to her surviving youngster.
“Mom was amazingly tolerant of her cub pawing at her face and pretending to tackle her,” Cardinal says.
He shot the photo in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve,
where the bears have been protected for so long, they’ve become tolerant of people.