Photographer Remembers Capturing Iconic P-22 Photo

Photographer Remembers Capturing Iconic P-22 Photo

One big reason P-22 became so famous and beloved is the man who took this iconic photo in 2013. P-22 was crossing a path with the Hollywood sign in the background.

Steve Winter’s first encounter with a big cat was when a black panther walked by his door in Guatemala is what first got him interested in taking pictures of wildlife.

He moved from working for Newsweek and Time Magazine to National Geographic where his fondness for cats kept growing.

Winter says he had envisioned his iconic photo of P-22, but was first told there were no mountain lions in Griffith Park. But thanks to P-22’s state of the art tracking collar, they were able to trace his movements.

Winter set up a remote camera at a trail P-22 would frequently cross.

“He came by and we took the picture and it’s a 4-second exposure to bring up the Hollywood sign in the sky in LA,” Winter said. So I got the first picture my editor was so happy, I said ‘I hate the lighting it sucks’ so I went back redid the lighting and 28 days later he walked by again and that is the photo we got.”

It took more than a year to get that famous shot. But Winter says it was worth it to see P-22 become one of the world’s most beloved cougars. Alongside a greater awareness of the importance of wildlife and the beginning of construction of a wildlife crossing on the 101 freeway.

“So I had an incredible attachment to a cat I never saw but I saw him all the time in this photograph,” Winter said. “He’s going to be influencing wildlife policy for years and decades to come.”