Location: British Columbia

Dates: June 22-27, 2017

Deposit: $3000 / Tuition: $7,995

A Once In A Lifetime Journey


Join Michael Forsberg and Melissa Groo as they lead a small, select group of intrepid travelers into the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. This is a tour for photographers who are looking for a new way of approaching nature photography, both in an aesthetic and storytelling way. Photography has the power to tell a story and to affect conservation. Although we may see and photograph bears (black bears and grizzly bears), this tour is not about getting frame-filling shots of bears; it’s about engaging with and documenting the countless things that make up this ecosystem, from the large, luminous jellyfish, to the fin of a humpback whale scything the water, to the salmon skeletons found deep in the forest, picked clean. We’ll photograph sweeping vistas of valleys carved by glaciers, and gigantic hemlock trees dripping with “old man’s beard.” We will venture deep into old-growth rainforest, guided by expect trackers who will point out to us the plants and animals that make this ecosystem so special, and we’ll trek into valleys marked by meadows of wildflowers and meandering streams. Back at the lodge we’ll spend time with the First Nations people that are working hard to conserve this area, discovering what the threats are what they’re doing to combat them. Throughout all of this, we’ll talk and think about making pictures that touch on conservation principles applicable to any situation. 

Participants will be expected to know the basics about their camera gear. The instructors will always be available to answer any and all questions, and will work as time permits one on one with people in the field or lodge, but there will not be formal group instruction on camera use or photo processing.

Participants need to be in good physical condition. This means that they are able to walk up to 3 or 4 miles carrying their chosen equipment, snacks, water. They should be able to clamber in and out of boats on their own, and cope with maneuvering often slippery rocks at the shoreline. They should be able to handle being on small boats sometimes on choppy water for up to two hours at a time. 

Lodging for the workshop is located at the Spirit Bear Lodge in British Columbia.

Size of Great Bear Rainforest (Hectares)
Student:Instructor Ratio


Melissa Groo

Melissa Groo

Workshop Faculty

Melissa is the wildlife photography columnist for Outdoor Photographer magazine and a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. She chairs NANPA’s Ethics Committee, and writes and speaks frequently on issues of ethics and conservation in wildlife photography. Melissa’s photographs have been published in numerous books and magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, Birdwatching, National Wildlife, Living Bird, Nature’s Best, Montana Outdoors, and New York State Conservationist Magazine.

Michael Forsberg

Workshop Faculty

Mike is a senior fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers who has focused his career on North America’s Great Plains, its prairie wildlife, and watersheds. His work has appeared in National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer, and his books on On Ancient Wings and Great Plains – America’s Lingering Wild have been turned into documentary films for PBS. Mike is co-founder of the Platte Basin Timelapse Project, and currently serves as faculty with the University of Nebraska.

Chris Steppig

Workshop Director

Chris Steppig is the workshop director for the Summit Series of Workshops and is in charge of all workshop operations, scheduling, logistics, faculty, marketing and sponsorship. He will be joining the group to British Columbia to ensure that everyone's travel is correctly booked, everyone has everything they need, and finally that everyone has an exceptional time.

The Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) is the largest tract of temperate coastal rainforest left in the world. GBR is an area of roughly 21 million acres, and staggering beauty, with mountains and granite cliffs rising out of the sea, glacier-carved fjords that wend their way around islands or primeval old-growth forest, where 300-foot-tall hemlock and spruce trees tower above, shrouded in mist. Bald Eagles and Ravens are the most common birds you see, while humpback whales and orcas surface around you as they surge through waters rich with otters, porpoises, and seals. And all these animals, as well as the forest, are critically sustained by the salmon that appear in the late summer and early fall to make their annual spawning run. Even the coastal gray wolf has evolved into a fishing expert.

Will you see Spirit Bears? Not likely, they typically don’t emerge from the forest til the salmon run in the fall. But anything can happen…

Workshop tuition includes all workshop instruction and events, lodging, and all meals.

Workshop tuition does not include travel before and after workshop. For transportation and lodging info, visit the next tabs.

Spirit Bear Lodge

British Columbia
(250) 339 5644

  • This lodge is a community-based ecotourism venture owned and operated by the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation, recognized by conservation organizations and the media as one of the best ecotourism experiences in the world. The cost of this trip includes round trip flights from Vancouver to Bella Bella, cab service from Bella Bella to Shearwater, and the boat ride from Shearwater to the lodge.
  • On June 21, 2017, you need to be in Vancouver, Canada in preparation for the morning flight the next day.
  • This is one of those times when you may want your full arsenal: wide-angle, mid-telephoto and super-telephoto, as well as macro lenses. Faster lenses are preferred (as wide an aperture as possible), and camera bodies that can handle higher ISO’s due to the frequent cloudy and forested conditions. Do keep in mind that, considering the often rough, wet terrain and distances required to hike at times, that managing the weight and bulk of your equipment may force you to make tough choices and pare down to what you personally see as essential, on any given day.
  • Note that this is a rainforest. There is often precipitation, sometimes falling in buckets, sometimes in a fine mist. Bring rain covers for your camera and lenses, and consider bringing silica gel if you have to do a quick dry out of your gear at night. Consider bringing a poncho to cover you and your gear as you hike. Wear clothing that dries quickly. Think layers, as temperatures can vary widely even within a day.
  • Note that this is the rainforest. There is often precipitation, sometimes falling in buckets, sometimes in a fine mist.


Advance Your Photography Even Further.

Summit Online is our online photography education platform that offers a variety of high quality video courses taught by experts.

Nat Geo Research with Jim Richardson

Get the most out of your Great Bear Rainforest Workshop by learning how to properly research the location your traveling to and approaching the “story” like a National Geographic photographer would. Our Summit Online photography course, National Geographic Research with Jim Richardson, takes you where very few have ever been before — behind the yellow border. Jim brings you inside many of his Geographic stories and what ties them all together: his research. National Geographic Research with Jim Richardson includes the following lessons:

  • Lesson One: Finding a Topic, Pitching a Story
  • Lesson Two: Starting a Mock Research Topic
  • Lesson Three: Getting into the Details & Outline
  • Lesson Four: The Actual Shoot

The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi

Prepare for your Great Bear Rainforest Workshop by learning how to properly upload and market the photos you capture while you’re there. Our Summit Online photography course, The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi, takes you on a journey through the digital world that drives today’s creative industry. As a Co-Founder of the unique website Photoshelter.com, Allen provides you with online tools that can better your freelance photography business and personal processes relating to photography and other creative realms. The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi includes the following lessons:

  • Lesson One: Overview of Media & Industry
  • Lesson Two: The Business of Photography
  • Lesson Three: Photoshelter tool : Photo Management
  • Lesson Four: Search Engine Optimization, Analytics, Bounce Rates and More