I have always had an adventurous spirit and a desire to be in wild places. My journey began when I enlisted and became a proud member of the United States Marine Corp. While serving, I suffered a fractured neck during a helicopter training exercise. It was during my rehabilitation that I discovered photography. That was 16 years ago and it changed everything for me. It's what I'm passionate about. So much so, four years ago, I quit my job as a welder. I packed my bags, left my home in Colorado, and headed north to pursue landscape photography on a full-time basis. My pursuit led me to Montana's Glacier National Park and to other venues in North America where I searched for the stunning scenes that have become subjects of my landscape photographs.
I taught myself the art of photography. As I continue to learn, I try not to be constrained by photographic rules. I use my creativity and tenacity to discover and capture unique images. Finding a perfect sunrise requires an early departure, often along a dark trail. This can be particularly unnerving in Grizzly bear country. However, once the sun begins to rise and paint the clouds, some of the most incredible 20 minutes unfold right before my eyes. It is then up to me to capture and preserve the moment....
By Emilee Mae Struss
Wind rustles the needles of nearby pine trees. The sun's first golden ray of light extends above the mountains. It's moving fast. The air is moist and there's a musky smell, somewhere. As the sun slides above the Lewis Mountain Range, in northern Montana, warmth spills out and over the untouched land. It glistens across the water reflects the blue sky in droplets of dew on disheveled blades of grass. The musky smell gets stronger, and, then, you see it.
Five hundred pounds of sheer muscle with razor-sharp claws and alert ears. Its wet nose rises in the air sniffing for the next meal. It moves slowly with restrained power like it has been storing energy all night for this one moment. It sees you. And in one press of force, it stands on its hind legs to nine feet tall and barrels out a bone-chilling throaty roar.
Montana grizzly bears. They're feared by many but not by professional fine art landscape photographer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Jeff Callihan. He spent four summers in Montana exploring Glacier National Park and peacefully living in his camper among hundreds of grizzly bears. He says grizzly bears are somewhat predictable. However, there is one thing that he did fear. And just the thought of it, Callihan says, made his blood run cold. It was the thought of making it as a full-time photographer....
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