Last Call


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.

7 Comments on “Last Call

  1. Despite the photo being a fake (read the linked article before commenting) I can’t help but find this picture chilling. I even felt a shiver go down my spine when I looked at it.
    This picture hit home for me, honestly. It reminded me of my childhood on Kodiak Island, Alaska (home of the biggest bears in the world) and the night I sat at my glass back doors all night, staring into a hole in the woods for the bear that had attacked our neighborhood, terrified that it could break into our house through the glass. I had this idea that I’d watch for it and warn my parents if it came, so we could try and escape before it cornered us upstairs or something. I found out the next day that the police had shot the bear that wandered into the neighborhood and caused all the trouble.

    • Part of me was afraid it couldn’t quite be this cool, but the photo is amazing, regardless. I like thinking that it is. It’s one of those things that should be a story, even if it isn’t.
      I don’t know what I’d do if I saw a bear. We don’t have them at all in Iowa, and I have to say I prefer it that way!

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