Photographing the Backcountry with David Frame

Backcountry Elk Hunting

This week we sit down with David Frame, a local Montana photographer.  David began his photography career in Washington before moving to Montana two years ago.  David does it the right way: spending dozens of nights in a tent on public land to chase down the perfect image.  We hope you enjoy this feature!

David Frame Photography
David Frame, Montana photographer

Where are you located?  I’m located in Belgrade, Montana.

How did you get your start in photography?  My dad had a Canon AE-1 that his dad gave to him in the 80’s. That was the first camera I started to mess around with when I was 10 years old. I had an interest in wildlife and started photographing the whitetail and mule deer around home.

What is your favorite camera/lens setup?  As I’m writing this it would be my Canon 5D MK IV for the camera. It’s hard to narrow it down to one lens but I’d have to say my Canon 500 F/4 which I use for wildlife.

Mountain Lion sleeping

How many days a year do you spend in the backcountry?  Last year I spent 67 nights in a tent.

Tell us more about how being an FAA Certified Drone Pilot factors into your photography.  I think it helps tell a bit more of the story and gives a different perspective of the landscape.


The animal pictures on your website are incredible, particularly the elk pictures - How much of your animal photography is done on public land vs private or National Parks?  I have photographed wildlife on private and in national parks but I have spent most of my time photographing wildlife on public land, particularly national forest. Growing up in Eastern Washington, there is very little opportunity to hunt branch antlered bull elk and if you want to hunt deer with a rifle OTC the season is before the rut. I enjoy watching elk and mule deer during September and November. Because of this I spent quite a bit of time in Washington state pursuing these animals in the fall with a camera.

Backcountry elk hunting

You have worked for a lot of amazing outdoor brands including Leupold Optics, YETI, and Sitka to name a few. Tell us a little bit about how you prepare and execute for a brand shoot.  With a lot of these shoots preparation comes down to being physically fit and making sure all the camera gear is clean and working properly. I’m pretty hard on gear so that can sometimes mean sending in gear for repair and making sure it’s ready for the next shoot. Executing is a matter of always shooting and fulfilling the clients specific needs/ wants at the time.

Backcountry horse hunting

What is your favorite image, why is it your favorite?  I don’t know if I would say it’s my favorite image but one of my favorite times in the wilderness was a day in the summer of 2017 when I came across a female mountain lion with two kittens and managed to sneak in to 40 yards from them and take a few photos before they disappeared.

Mountain lion

What trips do you have lined out for this year?  I have been fortunate enough to have documented an Alaska Dall sheep hunt back in August. I will be documenting a couple elk hunts in Wyoming. Mountain goat hunt in Washington. Mule deer hunts in Montana and Idaho. Spring bear next year in Alaska.

Alaska sheep hunting

What trips are on your bucket list?  I’d like to hike across the Thoroughfare region of Wyoming. I am also hoping to get eyes on the Brooks Range in Alaska one day.

How important is quality backcountry food to your trips?  Very important, it’s your body’s fuel. I have quite a few boxes of miscellaneous brands of dehydrated food and granola bars stowed away in my closet right now waiting for the next outing. I believe your intake of calories directly relates to your ability to move through country efficiently while in the backcountry.


What is your favorite backcountry food product?  Right now I really enjoy Lara bars, they are a simple yet effective piece of energy. If those aren’t available Snickers will do in a pinch.

What is your best piece of backcountry advice?  That’s a good question. I’d have to say that ounces make pounds. What looks good laying on your living room floor may not be worth the weight on the side of the mountain.

What is your favorite piece of outdoor gear?  This would have to be my Sitka Kelvin down wind stopper hoody. It’s a life saver when glassing from cold ridge tops.

Sheep hunting

How can people contact you to buy prints?  They can purchase prints on my website:

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