When to Photograph What in Alaska

Have you ever wondered, “When is the best time to photograph brown bears snagging salmon in cascading falls? Fields carpeted with wild lupine?  Northern lights whipping across the night sky? Or, tail slapping whales in coastal fjords?” Alaska provides many opportunities for scenes like these, and so much more. With well defined seasons and many photographic subjects quickly peaking and fading, it’s good to know the best time to shoot in advance. Among the unique attributes of the subarctic, early spring is still essentially winter. Between winter and spring is a sub-season that locals like to call “breakup,” during which temperatures and precipitation can swing wildly. It’s a gray and gritty time of year, but eventually spring prevails. Following one warm day in May, the landscape erupts in bright green. Soon after, moose calves can be spotted tottering after their mothers, and streams fill with spawning salmon. Wildflowers peak in early July, with late bloomers lasting until August. By the following month, summer is already making way for fall and the first auroras of the season may be seen dancing through a short August night. Like the grand finale of a firework display, autumn is short and explosive, with alpine tundra awash in golden crimson, along with sugar-dusted mountain peaks. Keeping in mind that Alaska is a vast state ranging from 51° [Adak] to 71° [Utqiaġvik], here’s a list of fun things to photograph in each month of the year for most of Southcentral Alaska, including Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla and Talkeetna.

* Peak months are noted in bold caps.

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
Alaska State Fair               AUG Sep      
Anchorage Fur Rondy Winter Festival   FEB Mar  
Anchorage skyline at twilight  Jan Feb Mar APR OCT Nov Dec
Anglers   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Auroras [northern lights]  Jan Feb MAR SEP Oct Nov  Dec
Autumn colors   Aug SEP Oct  
Bald eagles   MAY Jun Jul Aug Sep  
Berries   AUG Sep  
Belugas   AUG SEP  
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  
Coastal scenes  Jan Feb MAR APR May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
Dall sheep [Turnagain Arm]  Jan Feb Mar Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
First snow [mountain summits]   Aug SEP Oct  
First snow [sea level]   Sep Oct NOV  
Glaciers [hiking on Matanuska Glacier]  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
Glaciers [by air]  Jan Feb Mar Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct Nov  Dec
Glaciers [by boat]   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct  
Historic mines   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Ice flows on Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm  JAN FEB MAR Apr  
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race   MAR  
Lupine   JUN JUL  
Migratory birds   Apr MAY JUN JUL  
Moonrise [Hunter moon]   OCT  
Moose calves [newborn]   MAY JUN  
Moose in rut   SEP OCT NOV  
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
Salmon   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Seabird rookeries   May JUN JUL Aug  
Snowy taiga  JAN FEB MAR  Dec
Waterfalls   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
Whales   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Wildflowers   Jun JUL Aug  
By | 2018-01-05T14:03:52+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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