Arthur Lefo is a wildlife photographer, bear guide, and conservationist who spends time in Colorado, Alaska, and Wyoming. We recently spoke about his work and inspirations.
How did you get started in photography?
I started photography in 2018 on an expedition throughout Alaska by borrowing a friend’s Olympus (now OM System) camera gear. I instantly fell in love and haven’t looked back since, its become my career, passion, and life!
What are you shooting with these days?
Olympus EM-5 Mark ii. I’ve almost always shot on Olympus / OM System and I absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way! The weatherproofing, lens sharpness, and tech features are all incredible, and the compactness of my setup allows me to take my gear to places many cannot. My go to lens these days is the M.Zuiko 150-400mm 4.5 IS PRO - an absolute wildlife photography machine!
Arthur carries his Olympus kit in our new 30L+ Kiboko backpack
“I’ve always struggled to find a bag that fits all my gear efficiently, provides quick access, and is rugged and durable. Gura has made this a problem of the past - I absolutely love how simple their bags have made my life when on the move
Where are you currently based?
I split my time between Colorado, Alaska, and Wyoming depending on the season. As a bear guide, I live my life in accordance with the life cycles of bears - which is pretty fun! Summers are focused on bear viewing and photography, while I spend my winters searching for wolves and other animals while the bears hibernate.
What are some of your favorite places to photograph and why
Alaska is my all time favorite place to photograph! I’ve always bee captivated by the high latitudes and extreme weather of the arctic - capturing this feeling of isolation and distance from society and humankind is something I strive for in my work with wildlife.
Who are some photographers that have inspired you and/or continue to?
Brooke Bartleson, Drew Hamilton, Chris Burkard, among many other friends and inspirations! I have too many to list them all!
What or where inspires you next?
Continuing to better understand carnivores like bears and wolves and bringing people closer to them in hopes of breaking down the barriers that cause us to so often misunderstand these fascinating beings. My career and passion lies heavily in the northern regions and I will continue to explore them for both conservation and inspiration.
What do you look for when creating a photograph?
Follow the light. Get eye level with your subject. Don’t freeze, move around and think about your backdrop and foreground. Those are my three keys to success - but it always begins with respecting and not disturbing the subject/animal under any circumstance.
How would you define your style of photography?
Emotional and artful yet realistic, intimate and powerful, dreamy and mysterious.
How does photography play into your daily life?
Ironically, I only photograph while I’m out enjoying nature - I have always identified as a nature lover first and foremost and a photographer second. I’m inspired to shoot the things that I love - and so I focus on cultivating my love for various things in life daily to draw inspiration from them in the future while I’m taking photos!
How far do you go to capture a truly unique moment? and what is the craziest thing you've done to capture a photograph?
Waited for many many hours days on end in freezing temperatures in Wyoming, braved multi week rain storms in Alaska, or sometimes just stumbling into the right animal at the right time in the right place! The most important thing is always not to go so far as to disturb an animal’s natural behaviors - put the wildlife first, always!!
Where can we find more of your work?
You can find most of my portfolio on Instagram @arthurlefo and see some of my work available for sale at my website www.arthurlefo.com. I’m also one of the artists currently featured at Mother Wolf Gallery in Nantucket, MA, where some of my favorite pieces are currently on display.
Can you tell us about the project(s) you're currently working on?
I’m currently working on launching some wildlife photography workshops and private tours for the fall and next winter through my new company Think Wild Expeditions. Until then, I’ll be in Alaska once again this summer leading bear viewing and photography trips.