Black Bear Photo Workshops at The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary

Black Bear Photo Workshops at The Vince Shute Wildlife SanctuaryThe Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is 360 acres of North Woods habitat, ideal for black bears and other wildlife. Generations of bears frequenting the Sanctuary were habituated unintentionally by Vince Shute, as he tried to find a way to peacefully coexist with his forest neighbors. Vince fed the bears for more than 25 years. The feeding continues today as a means of preserving the extraordinary opportunities this unique situation provides. It allows The American Bear Association to educate the visiting public about the natural history of the American black bear and all natural resources. In addition, it allows The American Bear Association to offer you the chance to photograph this normally shy and reclusive animal.

Dates for the 2014 Photography Workshops

John Pennoyer Photo Workshops—Professionals and Amateurs

These 3 day workshops provide you with both expert classroom instruction and amazing field photography experiences. Approximately half your time is spent discussing various topics unique to nature photography, while the other half of the time is spent at the VSWS, photographing the 50 bears that have been known to visit the sanctuary. Be aware, bears are not the only photographic subjects you will encounter. The area abounds with other wildlife, including whitetail deer, wolves, chipmunks, butterflies and myriad species of birds. In addition, you may discover a dew-kissed spider web or a trillium in bloom.

Tim Halvorson Photo Workshop—Emphasizing Bear Behavior

This year this popular class is being extended to 3 days! Emphasis will be on black bear behavior and identifying bear behavior and characteristics in the field before they are acted on so photographers are ready for that award winning shot. This class is instructed from the field and there is no indoor classroom instruction provided. This provides you with all the time to take advantage of the unique photo opportunity VSWS has to offer in regards to their wide natural subject matter all at the click of a shutter. Be aware, the 80+ bears that visit the site are not the only photographic subjects you will encounter. We have a cornucopia of other wildlife at the sanctuary, including whitetail deer, the mysterious timber wolves, squirrels and chipmunks, interesting butterflies and a myriad of bird species including the coveted Pileated Woodpecker who happens to nest on sanctuary grounds. In addition, you may discover an inky cap mushroom or the perfect bear paw print placed ever so gently in a piece of mud surrounded by native flowers.

Eric Tetens Photo Workshop – Anticipating the Shot

Eric will discuss the history of VSWS, its bears, and what to look for when framing each shot. Emphasis will be placing photographers in the right position to get that award winning shot that keeps you coming back. All instruction will occur in the field to give each photographer as much time as possible with the bears. Each session will provide the photographer with ample opportunity to capture; cubs scampering up a tree, sleeping in a branch, mothers defending cubs, boars vying for position, cooling off in the pond or resting on wood chips. Bring plenty of film, memory cards, batteries and creativity.

In both workshops, in order to better prepare participants for their time spent around wild bears, a representative from the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary will cover safety issues and give a brief talk on the history and mission of the organization. The lecture will include black bear natural history information with an emphasis on behavior. A staff member of The American Bear Association will teach this portion of the workshop. MUST BE 18+ YRS OLD to attend workshop

Price

$500 per person for all photo workshops and a membership to the American Bear Association is highly recommended. It is also suggested that each photographer donate at least one royalty free photo to the ABA for their use for monetary gains, marketing and promotions and this in-kind donation will help keep the facilities in operation. See below for membership details, benefits and also cancellations policies.

Reservations & Booking

Please fill in our online reservation form or call the American Bear Association at (218) 757-0172 and leave a message or email bears@americanbear.org with any questions.

Reserve a 2014 private photo session or check availability. Videographers looking for a private reservation are required to contact us directly.

2014 Schedule

John Pennoyer Workshops—Professionals and Amateurs - May 31-June 2

Saturday
Participants will assemble for registration, introductions, and bear safety instructions. The black bear ecology portion of the workshop will run until 2 PM, at which point the focus shifts to photography. John will provide an introduction and then the group will travel to the VSWS for an evening photographic session.

Sunday & Monday
Early morning and evening photography sessions at the VSWS are planned. Midmorning to mid-afternoon will be spent in classroom instruction. The VSWS is closed to the public on Mondays, so you will be the only guests!

PLEASE NOTE
The ABA is no longer able to provide meals during the photo workshops. However, the nearby town of Orr, located approximately 14 miles from the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, has several cafes/diners.

Halvorson Photo Workshop—Emphasizing Bear Behavior - July 19-21 & Aug 16-18

Saturday
12 p.m. Participants will assemble for registration, introductions, and bear safety instructions. Bear talk about behavior and characteristics. Afternoon til dusk photography session.

Sunday
6 a.m. Participants will assemble. Photo sessions continue throughout the day until dusk.

Monday
6 a.m. Participants will assemble. Photo sessions continue throughout the day until dusk. The VSWS is closed to the public on Mondays, so you will be the only guests!  

PLEASE NOTE
The ABA is no longer able to provide meals during the photo workshops. However, the nearby town of Orr, located approximately 14 miles from the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, has several cafes/diners.

Eric Tetens Photo Workshop – Anticipating the Shot - June 7-9 & Aug 2-4

Saturday
Participants will assemble for registration, introductions and bear safety instructions. The black bear ecology portion of the workshop will run until 2pm. Eric will provide a brief discussion about what to anticipate, and then the group will travel to the VSWS for an evening photographic session.

Sunday and Monday
Early morning and evening photography sessions at the VSWS are planned. Midmorning to mid-afternoon will be spent reviewing photos and processing the workflow, this way each photographer can quickly review what is working, and new shots to be captured. The VSWS is closed to the public on Monday, so you will be the only guests!

Photo Workshop Instructors

John Pennoyer

John Pennoyer is a freelance nature photographer whose photo credits include: Wildbird Magazine, Bowhunter Magazine, The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, Sierra Club note cards, The Lake County Journal and many others. He is also a longtime member of the Minnesota Nature Photography Club.

John is an excellent instructor and has taught this class many times for the Twin Cities area camera club members and for The American Bear Association.

Past participants had these comments about John:

  • "He was knowledgeable, congenial and a pleasure to be around."
  • "The Best! Very helpful and informative."
  • "His style makes one feel comfortable."
  • "Good Job!! I'll be back again to attend another one of John's workshops."

Tim Halvorson

Tim Halvorson has been with the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary since 1995 when it was founded.  He has learned bear behavior over the years and many times can tell what the bears might be ready to do before it happens.  He can help photographers get prepared ahead of time to get some great photographs that they may not be ready for normally. Tim believes, it’s all about reading bear behavior and preparation. His class is a unique opportunity for learning such traits.  

He has taught with John Pennoyer at most of his workshops and also has volunteered his time with the instruction of children’s school projects regarding bear behavior.  Tim will not be holding an instructional classroom, but yet, will focus on getting the photographers some excellent photo opportunities and instructing them on bear behavior while in the field.

Tim has been a photographer for 40 years and has had his photos published in numerous magazines and newspapers. He has been a member of the North Metro Camera Club and held the President position for a year.

Eric Tetens

Eric is a freelance photographer, having visited VSWS for over 10 years capturing over 30,000 images of the bears. His photo credits include: Sierra Club, ESPN and various regional and local publications. Eric has shot extensively throughout North and Central America focusing on bears and wolves. Eric is a member of the Riverwoods Nature Photographic Society in Chicago, the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy.

Eric’s has studied the North American Black Bear extensively and utilizes his understanding of bears, and specifically bears at VSWS, to help his students take better photographs.

Accommodation in Orr

Classroom instruction will take place in a beautifully remodeled barn at Grey Wolf Lodge. Make your reservations at Grey Wolf Lodge by calling 1-800-840-9653.

Aaccommodations is available throughout the Pelican Lake area. Call 1-800-357-9255 for details or visit www.orrmn.com

Driving Directions

Travel Highway 53 north from Duluth, MN approximately two hours. One mile south of Orr, turn left (west) onto County Road 23. Grey Wolf Lodge is located approximately 6 miles down CR 23, while the VSWS is an additional 7 miles west on the same road.

Map & Directions

Photo Workshop Information

  • Class size is limited to 8 people, so register early
  • All proceeds will go to support The American Bear Association
  • All participants will be provided with bear safety tips
  • All participants will be required to sign a VSWS liability waiver
  • Be sure to bring all your camera equipment
  • Be prepared for adverse weather
Questions? Call (218) 757-0172 or email us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

You must notify ABA with a written request (by email or US mail with confirmation from ABA) 60 days before the work shop date for a full refund.  Any cancellations within 60 days of the event will not be accepted and will be processed as a donation. Thank you.

Membership of the American Bear Association

Simply include your dues in the space provided on the registration form and pay the member's only price for this workshop. The American Bear Association is a Minnesota based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All support comes from the private sector through annual dues, visitor donations, merchandise sales and photography fees. The American Bear Association receives no federal or state support. Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of federal and state law.

Membership Benefits Include:
  • Our Tri-annual publication, BEAR IN MIND
  • Special discounts on ABA sponsored workshops and programs
  • Knowledge that you are making a difference!
MEMBERSHIP LEVELS:
  • Member - $30 annually
  • 'Friend of the Cubs' - $100 annually
  • Sustaining Member - $250 annually
More information about Membership of The American Bear Association

Visiting Northern Minnesota

Who says you have to stay in the pristine Northwoods of Minnesota for only three days? There are numerous other opportunities available to explore. You could try some aerial photography of Pelican Lake and the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. You could photograph the captive wolves at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. You could even take a guided boat tour through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. And of course you can spend each evening at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, learning even more about the bears. Ask the Activities Director at your choice of lodging for details. Rob & Jo Kemkes of Grey Wolf Lodge have graciously agreed to help you plan a week-long adventure that will complement your workshop experience.

For more information, please contact us at (218) 757-0172
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