- 1 Guest - 3 day workshop
- 1 Guest - 5 day workshop
- 2 Guests - 3 day workshop
- 2 Guests - 5 day workshop
- 3 Guests - 3 day workshop
- 3 Guests - 5 day workshop
- 4 Guests - 3 day workshop
- 4 Guests - 5 day workshop
- 5 Guests - 3 day workshop
- 5 Guests - 5 day workshop
- 6 Guests - 3 day workshop
- 6 Guests - 5 day workshop
Yellowstone Photography Workshop with Local Professional Photographer
3-day Workshop – 4-6 participants – $1350 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
5-day Workshop 4-6 participants $2250 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
Spend full days immersed in photographing Yellowstone’s wildlife-rich Lamar Valley area, revered as the gem of North American wildlife photography, or exploring the steaming, otherworldly landscapes of Yellowstone’s thermal basins. Yellowstone boasts the largest intact ecosystem in the northern temperate zone, and scientists believe the park is now as rich, diverse, and healthy as it has ever been. All of the region’s native species are thriving and are protected, allowing them to behave naturally.
What does that mean for us photographers? It means that all the charismatic species that have roamed this landscape for thousands of years are doing so today – and we’re here to help you photograph them in a truly wild setting. Capturing images of bison in the morning light with thermals in the background or a mother grizzly bear with cubs in a sea of silver-green sage is on any photographer’s dream list and would be a signature Yellowstone image to add to any portfolio. Our workshops can make this dream become a reality.
There is something totally magical happening every day somewhere in Yellowstone; it’s just a matter of finding it. Due to the incredibly dynamic changes in nature – weather, seasonality, wildlife behavior patterns and distributions, and geological events – we like to keep our schedule very flexible. Every day in Yellowstone is different and unpredictable, and therefore, we leave room for adapting to situations as they arise to fully maximize each opportunity as it presents itself. Whether it’s a grizzly bear crossing the road, a lightning storm over Electric Peak, or the array of autumn colors of aspen, cottonwood, and willows along the Lamar River, we aim to take full advantage of every bit of magic that Yellowstone presents to us.
Join award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker Brad Orsted as he guides you through his backyard, Yellowstone National Park. Brad lives in Gardiner, Montana, at the north entrance to the park and spends most of his day in Yellowstone, photographing and filming its apex predators and scenery for National Geographic, The BBC, PBS, Nature, and ARTE. His photography has appeared in publications and on billboards across the West, as well as the AP, including The Washington Post. His Cougar Pose image was named in the top ten images for the decade by Mountain Outlaw.
We will also provide a local naturalist guide/driver who will help spot wildlife, work as a photographer’s assistant, drop us off at wildlife sightings, and provide general support. This unique approach allows more one-on-one time with your instructor, while the naturalist guide works to read animal behavior and predict wildlife movements to ultimately help you tell a story through your images and learn how to put yourself in the right place at the right time to capture powerful images.
The ultimate goal for the workshop is to become a better wildlife photographer through understanding not only your gear, but the habits and patterns of our subjects. A broader and deeper appreciation for the animals and landscapes we hope to photograph comes through the artist’s lens when we take the time to immerse ourselves in the ecosystems of our subjects. We will cover what makes Yellowstone’s flora and fauna so unique, and how to capture award-winning images of the wildlife and landscapes of the world’s first National Park.
Brad’s workshops are part professional photography, part naturalist’s course, and full immersions into Yellowstone. You’ll work with Brad to understand your subjects more intimately as you learn their connections to the ecosystem, as well as your own. Brad spent years as a Certified Interpretive Guide practicing the Leave No Trace principles that he brings to his workshops. Taking one of Brad’s workshops will change the way you view your world. You’ll take home new skills as a photographer, a deeper connection to the landscape, images you’ll be proud of, and stories you’ll want to share.
All skill levels are welcome! By keeping the groups small, Brad can be there to shoot with you and help you improve your eye and techniques. We are happy to work with everyone, from beginners to pros.
- Photograph the magic of Yellowstone’s abundant wildlife and iconic beauty
- One-on-one instruction while shooting with one of Yellowstone’s most well-known local photographers
- Additional local naturalist guide/driver/photographer’s assistant
- Small group – no more than 6 guests
- All skill levels welcome
- Learn animal behavior to tell a story through your images and better position yourself to capture stunning wildlife shots
- Vast wide-open landscapes and abundant wildlife
- Breakfast and lunch – picnic style – catered by the region’s best boutique eco-lodge, the Wonderland Café and Lodge
- Opening presentation from local wildlife expert (Wonderland Café Dining Room)
- Closing critique of your top five images from the workshop (Wonderland Café Dining Room)
Possible photo shoots include:
- Explore Yellowstone’s Northern Range, where our focus will likely turn to predators and their prey, who are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. On these excursions, we will likely encounter wolves, grizzly and black bears, bison, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, otters, and numerous other species, large and small. We will spend our time in the best places to find these icons of American wilderness, while discussing the ecology and natural history driving their behavior. Understanding the ecology and behavior of your subjects will help you tell their story through your photographs and will help you read and predict their movements to best position yourself to capture outstanding images. Every day in Yellowstone is different, so each day may take us to a new part of this ecological wonderland, but will likely include the famed Lamar Valley, Slough Creek Flats, Blacktail Plateau, Swan Lake Flats, Round Prairie/Pebble Creek, Gardner Canyon, and Little America.
- Morning light on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; photograph the view that inspired artist Thomas Moran to capture with colorful oils on canvas, a canyon so awe-inspiring it inspired Congress to grant unprecedented protection over this natural wonder in 1872. In addition to the classic viewpoints, we will explore other lesser-known vistas of the canyon and its tremendous waterfalls.
The intense pastel colors of Porcelain Basin give a surreal appearance that is accentuated by the steaming, bubbling, and spurting springs and hot vents of Norris Geyser Basin.
- The gurgling acidic mud of Fountain Paint Pots yields golf ball- to basketball-sized bubbles of silky clay-like soil that burst into radiating rings of chocolatey charcoal sludge – bringing out the youthful wonder in everyone.
Time-lapse in a post-burn skeleton forest reveals the stark textures and dramatic lighting of Rocky Mountain weather blowing through the Big Sky country.
Yellowstone Lake, the largest high-elevation lake in the US, contains hissing steam vents and bottomless turquoise pools at the shoreline with loons and white pelicans paddling by and the snow-capped peaks of the Absaroka Range in the distance.
The alpenglow at sunset behind the Gallatin Range can be reflected off Swan Lake while sandhill cranes sing their “primordial chortle” and the trumpeter swan sits tight on her nest.
- Countless streams contain rapids and waterfalls for slow exposures as well as birds and insects to add to any portfolio or to share with family, friends, and colleagues.
- A 2000-pound bull bison standing timeless on a ridge above a glacially-carved valley with wind whipping his mane past his curled horns and a giant cumulus cloud ballooning across the blue sky behind.
Depending on the season, we may focus additional time on any one of many different aspects of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It might be the bugling elk during their breeding season in September/October or the bashing heads of the bighorn rams during their breeding season in November/December. It might be the birthing bison on the emerald green bottomlands of the Lamar Valley in May or the spawning cutthroat trout in June. Late-May through early-June is the best time to find a mother grizzly with her tiny cubs foraging along a mountain stream and across a sage covered slope.
Note from your photography instructor, Brad:
Hi everyone, and welcome!
Thank you for taking the time to look into a photography workshop together. Here are my goals for you during our time together:
Through a full immersion into the Yellowstone ecosystem, we will learn not only the functionality of how to capture iconic images, but a deeper understanding of our subjects by sharing in their world. We will learn how, why, and where different animals move at different times, and how to use our instincts and animal allies in the field to help us locate our subjects.
Through a respectful and more meaningful re-connection to the landscape we become not only better observers, but more accomplished storytellers – with our cameras.
I look forward to sharing what I have learned over the past decade photographing in Yellowstone with you. Yellowstone is a land sacred to me, with many stories to be revealed to those with the skills, patience and cunning to seek them out. During our time together, it’s my personal goal to not only help you become a better photographer, but for you to be at home in the wild; to open your eyes, your ears, and your imagination to the wonders of the world’s first national park, my home, Yellowstone.
3-Day March Workshops
3-Day March Workshops – 4-6 participants $1350 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
Join Brad on a 3-day photography workshop in Yellowstone, as he searches for the first emerging grizzly bears of the year. These are usually the big male bears that first make their appearance, and seek out winter-killed animals to kick start their diet. This is also a good opportunity to photograph other iconic species such as wolves, fox, coyotes, eagles and ermine along Yellowstone’s Northern Range. It’s still winter in Yellowstone, and this is a great time to do some tracking as well. The landscape is starting to shift from winter to spring in March, so we can work on our big beautiful panoramic images too. Workshops are filling up fast!
3-Day April Workshops
3-Day April Workshops – 4-6 participants
$1350 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
Join Brad on a 3-day photography workshop in Yellowstone, as the roads to the interior of the park start to open. This gives us more room to search for grizzly bears, black bears and wolves. Song birds start to arrive back into Yellowstone, as well as spring’s official messenger, the Mountain bluebird. Wildflowers are just starting to emerge, and baby bison or “red dogs” start appearing along Yellowstone’s northern range, and share the landscape with Shooting Stars and Buttercups. Workshops are filling up fast!
5-Day May Workshops
5-Day May Workshops – 4-6 participants $2250 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
Join Brad on a 5-day complete immersion photography workshop in Yellowstone, as we go full bore on Brad’s specialty – grizzly bears. By May, mother grizzlies with cubs start showing up, and by late May, grizzly mating season is in full swing. We will spend our days looking for Yellowstone’s top predators, as well as taking time to photograph the new animal babies and wildflowers appearing daily in Yellowstone. May is Brad’s favorite time in the park, and with so much going on, it’s easy to tell why. Everywhere you look, there seems to be something to photograph. Workshops are filling up fast!
3-Day June Workshops
3-Day June Workshops – 4-6 participants $1350 / person (30% deposit at time of booking – remaining balance due 30 days prior to workshop)
Join Brad on a 3-day photography workshop in Yellowstone, as he searches out more grizzly bears fattening up on vegetation, and wolf pups just starting to venture out from their den sites. The wildflowers are exploding in June, and we’ll follow the migration up the mountain for some unforgettable landscape images. Rambunctious baby bison are bucking in Lamar Valley, and rainbows start making regular appearances after an afternoon thunderstorm. The valleys are green and lush in June, as Yellowstone brims with new life. Workshops are filling up fast!
May 31-June 2
What is included and what you need to bring
- Full-days (~8 hours) guided photo tour
- Local professional photographer and photography instructor
- One-on-one shooting and discussion with your instructor
- Additional local naturalist guide/driver
- Transportation in our fully equipped touring vehicle (we drive, you enjoy the scenery)
- Plenty of space for your camera gear and extra clothing *please bring warm clothing
- Fresh-baked breakfast pastries
- Hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot cocoa)
- Healthy and hearty snacks (various bars and trail mix, etc.)
- Healthy fruit juice, soft drinks, and water
- Full picnic lunch spread (GF and vegetarian/vegan and kosher options available)
- Interpretation of wildlife activity and behavior through observation and dynamic, engaging discussions
- Informed and accurate information on the biology, geology, and conservation issues surrounding the wildlife and landscapes you will observe on our tours
- Opening meet and great dinner with local experts to become more familiar with place and subjects
- Closing dinner celebration and critique of everyone’s top five shots
Gratuity is NOT included in the price of the tour. Tipping your guide is a common practice in North America, and tips are an important part of their income.
While we are happy to accept all levels of photographers, there’s a few things you should know about gear, as you make your plans.
Wildlife in Yellowstone seems to either be right next to the road, or a mile away from it. While you don’t need professional photography equipment in Yellowstone to get an award-winning image, at least one telephoto lens reaching 400mm is encouraged. The best lens is the one you have ready. I like to keep something on my lap, like my Sigma 60-600, so I can cover a wide focal distance.
Brad’s Gear Bag:
Batteries/Charger – Enough battery power to shoot the entire day. I keep 3 batteries per camera body ready to go.
Media – Enough memory to shoot the entire day. I like to have 512mb split between (2) cards per camera body.
Cleaning – Lens cloths, air blower, lens solution.
Filters – Clear UV, Polarizer
Tools: Allen wrenches or Leatherman type tool
Canon 800mm f/5.6 I IS
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3
Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6
Canon 24-105 f/4
Renting lenses is also an option at the following sites:
Yellowstone possesses some of the most extreme changes in temperature and weather conditions anywhere. During spring, summer, and fall, temperatures can range from above 70°F (21°C) to below freezing. Temperatures on a winter tour could range from -40°F to +40°F (-40°C to +10°C). We therefore recommend plenty of warm clothes that can be layered and easily removed; therefore, allowing you to adjust and stay comfortable throughout your tour.
For summer tours, comfortable layered clothing is a must. Bring a warm hat and gloves for cold early-morning hours, and include a water-proof, wind-proof outer shell for summer thunderstorms or all-day spring and fall rains. Consider waterproof footwear.
For winter tours, here is what our guides wear:
- Long underwear. Starting with your base layers, synthetic or wool long underwear tops and bottoms are critical to your comfort (we can find places to shed this layer later in the day if necessary). Please stay away from cotton, which can hold moisture and drastically chill the body, whereas wool and synthetics wick moisture and can even insulate while wet.
- Sweater or fleece. Ideally more than one layer of insulating layers like fleece or wool sweaters will allow for effective layering and allows you to easily shed layers as the day warms up.
- Fleece or down vest. Vests are great as a layering item that can really hold in core body temperature, yet also allow for maximum comfort and mobility.
A windproof and water repellent insulated jacket is your most important protection from the biting Wyoming winds. Gore-Tex or something similar is highly advised as the best moisture/wind barrier and goose down insulation is the best insulation.
- Snow pants/ski pants – Insulated pants with moisture/wind barrier. You should have long underwear thermal layers in addition.
Heavy gloves or mittens with windproof barriers.
- Warm hat that covers your ears. We lose tremendous body heat from our heads. Protect your ears from the chilly wind with a wool or fleece hat.
Warm wool or synthetic socks are key to keeping those toes from hampering your good time. Be sure you have plenty of wiggle room inside your boots. If your socks are too thick and fit too tightly in your boots, you will actually reduce blood flow to your feet, resulting in cold toes, regardless of how warm your socks are.
- Insulated winter boots (roomy boots are better as you do not want to restrict circulation in your feet/toes)
There are several ways you can go for winter boots: the insulated rubber “muck” boots that farmers and ranchers like. These are slip on boots that come in varying levels of insulation (up to -50 degrees). They are fine for short walks, but you would not want them for full-day hikes. For the purpose of this trip, they would be fine. Good brands there are Muck and LaCrosse. These are probably the best bang for your buck.
The other option is a lace up insulated boot. There are lots of them on the market and you could spend a lot for a boot that you may never use again.
Here is a link with discussion about boots recommended for Antarctica tours.
- If you need to order boots, you could have them shipped here, and we will have them on hand for you when you arrive, not a problem at all. Just let us know.
Hand and toe/foot warmers. These are lifesavers! We advise everyone to place a full-sized foot warmer inside your boots every morning before the tour. This keeps the edge off and keeps you comfortable to be able to enjoy yourself to the fullest during those hard-earned wildlife encounters! Toe and hand warmers can be used as needed
- With high elevation sun, many of us burn easily, especially when we are distracted by something like watching wolves for extended periods of time.
A day pack is very handy for personal items: hand and toe warmers, water bottle, sunglasses, camera, and of course for all the extra layers you will want.
Please let us know if you have additional questions about gear.
Yellowstone National Park is a very large place divided by mountain ranges, deep valleys and a massive lake. The weather within the 2.2 million acres can vary widely, so checking the weather in the park can be a difficult task. We recommend checking several different NOAA weather stations around the park, and working an average of those if you’re planning to travel around the entirety of the park.
Tower Junction, WY
Cooke City, WY
It is important to remember that the wild animals we seek to observe and photograph are exactly that, WILD free-ranging animals that can roam across all of Yellowstone’s vast and rugged 2.2 million acres. The probability of locating and observing them is greatly elevated due to your guide’s intimate personal familiarity with the landscape and the animals themselves. We do not guarantee any wildlife sightings on our tours; however, we will guarantee that your guide will use their knowledge, skills, and network of other guides, wildlife watchers and photographers to do everything we can to find and photograph the animals you’d like to see. We are in the park nearly every day searching for and watching wildlife, and that consistent experience pays off in finding the animals you’ve traveled to see.
We Adhere to the Yellowstone Wild Code of Ethics
As a licensed Commercial Use Permit holder with Yellowstone National Park, we must follow all park rules and regulations. Additionally, as life-long proponents of wildlife and wild places, we will also follow our own ethical wildlife viewing and photography practices.
We will take this opportunity to teach you about how we can have the very best viewing and photography opportunities possible without having negative impacts on wildlife by respecting the animals’ space and movements as they go about their lives.
While on tour with Yellowstone Wild LLC, we will observe the following park rules (subject to law enforcement):
Keep at least 25 yards from all wildlife, except:
Keep at least 100 yards from wolves and bears
Avoid remaining near or approaching wildlife, including birds, at any distance that disturbs or displaces the animal.
It is our ethical responsibility as visitors to the park to make sure that our actions do not inflict undue stress or hardship upon the animals that we are observing. Wild animals in a natural setting do not have easy lives, and the last thing we want to do is make their lives any more difficult. Your guide is an expert at reading animal behavior, and the moment that our presence is bothering an animal, we MUST back off until we are no longer disturbing its natural behavior. Failure to promptly respond to your guide’s instructions to back away from wildlife may result in the termination of your tour, subject to the discretion of your guide.