The longer I spent pursuing wildlife photography, the more I'm convinced that gear isn't the end-all be-all.
Of course, you need an adequate camera body.
You need a good enough lens.
You need to know how to use your camera as there's typically very little time when animal action happens, and there are few, if any, do-overs.
If you have any questions about which camera gear and settings work best for wildlife, check out my book (find it by clicking here).
So what do I consider the most important thing?
Time. Be there.
If I had to choose between getting the latest Nikon Z9, Canon R3 or Sony A1 with that brand's 400mm f/2.8 lens (each combo will set you back around $20K) and having only a week in Alaska, or, having an entry level camera and lens but being able to spend one or two months in Alaska ... ?
I'd choose the latter all the time. The most expensive gear is no substitute for spending time with wildlife, which allows you to see (and photograph!) so many different behaviors in so many different lighting situations.
Spending three months here in Southeast Alaska reminds me of that on a daily basis. Most visitors - some carrying professional-level gear - spend one or two days at the salmon-filled creek. They may see one or two bears spending a few hours fishing. It may be bright sunlight during their visit, heavy fog or pouring rain.
Being able to spend all that time at the creek, from mid June this year to the middle of September when I'm planning on leaving Alaska to head back to the Tetons, has given me much more opportunities to get those unique shots. Here are some of my favorites from my three-month visit in past years.
A grizzly swam the lagoon in my direction, giving me a great reflection shot opportunity
Close-up of a grizzly taking a mouthful of berries next to the creek
Salmon Roe goes flying when this grizzly bites into a pink salmon in the creek
A grizzly in hot pursuit of several salmon
Close-up of a grizzly paw. Look at those nails.
A grizzly caught a beautiful, red sockeye salmon.
Salmon roe (or eggs), a delicacy for the grizzlies.