Insider Tips – Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects and When to Shoot Them

Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects by Season

Have you ever wondered when’s the best time to photograph brown bear snatching salmon from a cascading falls… alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers… northern lights whipping across the night sky… or tail slapping whales in a coastal fjord? Alaska provides scenes like these and so much more, but they’re seasonal – so knowing where to be and when is key to success. Consulting the Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects by Season is a good place to start.

Among the unique attributes of the subarctic, early spring is still essentially winter. Between winter and spring is a sub-season locals like to call “breakup,” during which time temperatures and precipitation can fluctuate wildly. It’s a gray and gritty time of year, but following one warm day in May, the landscape suddenly erupts in bright spring green. Newborn moose calves can be spotted tottering after their mothers soon after. Streams begin filling with spawning salmon around the same time, and wildflowers peak in early July. By late August, summer is already making way for fall and the first auroras of the season might be seen dancing through the night. Like a grand finale, autumn is short and explosive, with alpine tundra awash in golden crimson and snow-dusted mountain peaks. Alaska is a vast state ranging from 51°N (Adak) to 71°N (Utqiagvik) so this list is far from complete, but it will give you a general idea of what can be seen and photographed during each month throughout most of Southcentral Alaska; including Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla and Talkeetna.

* Peak months are noted in bold caps.

incoming tide at sunset on turnagain arm, early spring - top 30 alaska photography subjects

Spring tide in Turnagain Arm at sunset.

Sony A7RIII | FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM | 0.8 sec | f/20 | ISO 100

Alaska Photo Treks offers photography tours year round.  Sunset Photo Safari operates May- September.  Twilight Photo Tour runs September-April. Departure times for both tours are dependent on sunset, which at this latitude changes dramatically throughout the year. The times for each week are posted on the respective pages for each tour. Cell phone photographers will enjoy the fun, fast-paced InstAlaska Smartphone Photography Tour. Winter months also include the northern lights viewing adventure, Anchorage Aurora Quest. Explore Alaska Photo Treks to learn more about these excellent, instructional day tours and multi-day tours and workshops.

Contact us to plan your Alaska photography adventure today!

1. Aerials (fixed wing)  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
    Aerials (helicopter)  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2. Alaska State Fair               AUG Sep      
3. Anchorage Fur Rondy Winter Festival   FEB Mar  
4. Anchorage skyline at twilight  Jan Feb Mar APR OCT Nov Dec
5. Anglers   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
6. Auroras (northern lights)  Jan Feb MAR Apr Aug SEP Oct Nov  Dec
7. Autumn colors   Aug SEP Oct  
8. Bald eagles    Apr MAY Jun Jul Aug Sep  
9. Berries   AUG Sep  
10. Belugas    Mar AUG SEP  
11. Brown bears (Chinitna Bay)   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
      Brown bears (Denali National Park)   Jun Aug Aug Sep  
      Brown bears (Katmai National Park)   JUL  
      Brown bears (Lake Clark National Park)   Jul AUG SEP  
12. Coastal scenes  Jan Feb MAR APR May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
13. Dall sheep (Turnagain Arm)  Jan Feb Mar APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
14 First snow (mountain summits)   Aug SEP Oct  
     First snow (sea level)   Sep Oct NOV  
      Glaciers (by boat)   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct  
16. Historic mines   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
17. Ice flows on Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm  JAN FEB MAR  Dec
18. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race   MAR  
19. Lupine   JUN JUL  
20. Migratory birds   Apr MAY JUN JUL  
21. Moonrise (Hunter moon)   OCT  
22. Moose  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY Jun Jul Aug Sep OCT NOV  DEC
23. Moose calves (newborn)   MAY JUN  
       Moose in rut   SEP OCT NOV  
24. Mountain scenes  Jan Feb Mar APR MAY JUN Jul Aug SEP OCT NOV  Dec
       Mountain streams   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct Nov  Dec
25. Salmon   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
26. Seabird rookeries   May JUN JUL Aug  
27. Snowy taiga  JAN FEB MAR  Dec
28. Waterfalls   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
39. Whales   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG Sep  
30. Wildflowers   Jun JUL Aug  
By | 2018-04-30T12:28:45+00:00 May 29th, 2017|Photography Advice|2 Comments


  1. Joseph Goyanko, Jr. June 3, 2017 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Do you have any tours in Dinali for Aug 3-6?

    • Jody Overstreet June 3, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

      Hi Joseph, thank you for your inquiry! While we run photography workshops in Denali National Park on occasion, unfortunately, none are scheduled for your timeframe. Flightseeing photography tours around Denali are available throughout year. Let me know if I can answer questions or set something up for you like this. ~Jody

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