This is the face of death.
Michio Hoshino was a nature photographer, apparently famous within his field. He was in Russia on a job when he met this bear, who mauled him to death. This photo was the last he ever took.
I can’t stop looking at it. For one, it’s a stunning, striking photo, making me feel as if I am the one the bear is about to attack. But what really strikes me is that, unlike most photographs that read like this, it isn’t set-up. This isn’t a bear behind a screen. This is a bear entering a tent to attack the man who took this photograph. This is a bear who will kill the man who took this photograph. It just grabs my mind and won’t let go.
Did Hoshino know he was photographing his death? Did he do so calmly? Unaware? Did he do it as a last act of defiance, knowing he was going to die? Did he do so weeping? Did he take some pains to protect the camera? Did he take long to die, or was it instantaneous? Was this a horrible accident for him, a despairing way to leave the earth, or did he find, at the end, that this was somehow fitting to his life?
I could write a novel, just from staring at this photograph. If I weren’t so backed up already, I just might.