I went to Kurile Lake in Kamchatka, Russia after watching about it on a television documentary. I got fascinated because bears come there every year, as they consider it the best place for them to find food or take shelter. Aside from that, the lake is the largest breeding ground for red salmon—one of the best of its kind—in the whole of Eurasia.
I knew that no one had tried taking underwater pictures of the bears, since it would be strenuous and dangerous. Knowing the obstacles that I will go through, I still made a go for it. I went to a shop and asked for a box for my photo camera, telling the assistant my intentions. He reacted as if I was completely insane.
Working with a predator means having one foot in the grave; one tiny mistake can lead to a giant mess even if you work with one easily at first. Because of this, we had a special cage built to prevent direct contact with the bears. What I had to do was watch from the bottom up every time one got up on its hind legs.
I was that desperate to get a shot. I spent hours soaked in the freezing cold water, and it thrilled me whenever a bear came near. There were times when I got really close to them, and I tried my best not to ruin the moment. However, they turned from pretty creatures to beasts as soon as I got in the water, chasing me, hunting me down like I was food.
Bear attacks really are fatal. There are more chances of being killed by one than being killed by a lion, tiger, leopard and shark combined. Looking back, fulfilling this dream of mine—taking shots of bears underwater—almost caused me my life. It was something exciting and memorable, but it was a bad idea. Never in a million years would I recommend what I did to anyone.