Was Photographer Michio Hoshino Killed by a Bear?

An image that captures a bear seconds before the ursine mauled its photographer to death actually comes from a digital manipulation competition.

Photographs taken in the moments before tragedy strikes pose an especial fascination for us, as exemplified by such widely-circulated images as those supposedly depicting a tourist atop New York’s World Trade Center on the morning of the 9/11 terrorist attack and an extreme close-up of a bovine charging a photographer during a “running of the bulls event. (Neither of these images actually depicted what was claimed of them in their Internet-circulated versions, though.)

Photographs of this nature tend to be rare, as they require that the victim have a camera readily at hand and the presence of mind to stolidly snap away as the final moments of his life flash before his eyes, or to capture by happenstance a danger to which he was oblivious at the time. The former is the circumstance claimed of the picture displayed below, purportedly taken by a wildlife photographer just before he was mauled to death in his tent by a bear:

Michio Hoshino, a photographer known for his pictures of bears and other wildlife, was mauled to death by a brown bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia. He was in his mid-40’s and lived in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is the last photo he took.

The putative victim named in the text accompanying this image, Michio Hoshino, was in fact a real wildlife photographer who died after being mauled by a brown bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia in August 1996. However, this picture was neither taken by Hoshino nor recorded the circumstances of his death: it’s an entry from a Worth1000 Photoshop competition in which contestants were tasked with creating “a last-photo hoax: the final photograph of the victim, whoever he might be, had a camera on him right before ‘it’ happens.”

  • The New York Times.   “Michio Hoshino Dies While Filming Bears.”
        22 September 1996.

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