Polar Bears & Aurora | Barter Island Photo Workshop 2018-04-26T23:38:24+00:00

Polar Bear Photography Tour and Workshop with Carl Johnson | Sep 13-17, 2018

Venture to a coastal zone barrier island that provides a serene setting for this Arctic polar bear photography tour. The primary focus of this photo workshop is composition and photo technique, how to successfully capture stunning wildlife images. Base camp is in the Inupiat Village of Kaktovik on Barter Island, which is close to the rich habitat of polar bears, and at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Landscape photography will be a secondary emphasis in this starkly beautiful location, plus an opportunity for one evening of night photography and hopefully the northern lights. Carl will offer tips and techniques on capturing night landscapes to round out your instructional experience.

Day One

Plan to arrive in Fairbanks this afternoon, and catch a courtesy shuttle from the airport to the hotel. There will be a dinner meeting to discuss the itinerary and photo opportunities for the days ahead.

Day Two

The group will commute together for a morning check-in at Ravn Alaska, a regional airline that services Barter Island. Once at our lodging in Kaktovik, there will be an orientation and gear check and meet your polar bear guide, Steve Kasklowski; the photographer behind the book The Last Polar Bear. Afterward, we'll head out by boat and spend 4 hours at a prime polar bear viewing and photography location.

Days Three & Four

Approximately eight hours per day will be spent admiring these incredible arctic bears from the comfort and safety of a boat. The vessel allows for unobstructed views of the bears and the landscape. Departure will take place at early light, and you'll spend most of the long daylight hours behind camera, among the silence and solitude of the Beaufort Sea. As time and opportunity allows, Carl will emphasize landscape photography opportunities. One evening will be set aside for an excursion under the Arctic night sky, photographing landscapes and hopefully, the aurora borealis. Throughout the entire trip, Carl will offer personalized photo instruction tailored to your particular skill level.

Most of the field photography will occur between dawn and dusk. There will be two four-hour sessions on the boat each day, with a return to the lodge for lunch and short land outings. Weather will determine the departure date for the night photography excursion, which will include a group transfer and additional guide. Safety is the highest priority. It is important that the group travels and stays together, as polar bears roam freely in the vicinity of the village.

Day Five

There will be one last morning to photograph polar bears for about 4 hours from the boat, before gathering gear and assembling for the return flight to Fairbanks. After checking into individual hotel rooms and enjoying a hot shower, there will be a celebratory dinner with image and story sharing. During this time, Carl will offer a portfolio review of your top images from the trip.

Whenever possible we endeavor to follow our itineraries as written. However, trips will occasionally deviate from the written itinerary due to weather conditions, group preference, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances (collectively what some have called “The Alaska Factor.”) Therefore, we suggest that you approach any Alaska trip with an open mind and an adventurous spirit.

Whats Included

  • Transportation between Fairbanks and Kaktovik, Alaska
  • Lodging
  • All meals and snacks
  • Guiding and instruction

Recommended Photography Gear

  • Camera with manual settings
  • Wide angle lens
  • Zoom lens, recommended 200-400 range with 1.4 teleconverter (minimum 400mm)
  • Charged batteries and charger
  • Multiple memory cards
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Remote shutter release

Photography equipment rental available at Stewart's Photo Shop


This is a moderate activity that involves walking short distances on uneven terrain. It also involves spending several hours a day out in an open boat. Weather conditions may range from snow, rain, wind, and sun, and temperatures from 25°F (-4°C) to 40°F (4°C).


  • Comfortable walking or hiking shoes with good traction and water resistance
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Warm, thick sweater
  • Fleece jacket
  • Water/windproof outer shell with insulation
  • Warm hat and gloves

3 cute polar bear cubs on edge of water - polar bear photography tour

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