Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a  black bear Sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or  three reports of sows with as many as 4 cubs, but five was, and is, very  extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their  den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their  mom - no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the  trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before  dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for  more than six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime  opportunity and photographed them. I used  the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The  print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing  as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.


I stayed in touch with  other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall  hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them,  and everything remained OK.  I stayed away from the bears as I  was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in  general, and treat them as `approachable friendsī.  This could  easily become dangerous for both man and animal.  


After  Halloween, I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated.

This spring, just before the  snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered all over the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of  2007.

 I saw them before mid-April and  dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, a highly improbable  second once-in-a-lifetime photograph.

 On 25 April  2008, I achieved my dream.  


 When something as magical as  this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, "We  have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow".  And so it is  with humility and great pleasure that I share these exhilarating photos with you.  Do pass them on!


Sincerely, /Tom Sears.