On As­sign­ment

Dis­cover Joel Sar­tore’s one-man quest to doc­u­ment the world’s an­i­mals through pho­to­graphs be­fore they dis­ap­pear

NPhoto - - Contents - To find out more about the project visit www.nat­geopho­toark.org or www.joel­sar­tore.com/photo-ark

Joel Sar­tore is doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery species in cap­tiv­ity for the Na­tional Geo­graphic Photo Ark Project

The Na­tional Geo­graphic Photo

Ark project has been over a decade in the mak­ing. I started pho­tograph­ing in my home­town of Lin­coln, Ne­braska in an ef­fort to raise aware­ness of and find so­lu­tions to some of the most press­ing is­sues af­fect­ing wildlife and their habi­tats to­day. I aim to doc­u­ment ev­ery species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies, which would in­spire the pub­lic but also help save wildlife by sup­port­ing on-the-ground con­ser­va­tion ef­forts.

So far, I’ve vis­ited 40 coun­tries in my quest to cre­ate a photo ar­chive of global bio­di­ver­sity. The fi­nal book is 400 pages and in­cludes 600 im­ages. How­ever, in the whole project I aim to fea­ture around 12,000 species of birds, fish, mam­mals, rep­tiles, am­phib­ians and in­ver­te­brates. My hope is that once com­pleted,

The Photo Ark will serve as an im­por­tant record of each an­i­mal’s ex­is­tence and a pow­er­ful tes­ta­ment to the im­por­tance of sav­ing them.

So far, I’ve com­pleted por­traits of more than 7000 species. The fi­nal book show­cases my favourite an­i­mal por­traits: from tiny to mam­moth, from the Florida grasshop­per spar­row to the greater one-horned rhi­noc­eros. Paired with the elo­quent prose of wildlife writer Dou­glas Chadwick, this book presents a thought-pro­vok­ing ar­gu­ment for sav­ing all of earth’s species. It’s the eye con­tact that moves peo­ple. It en­gages their feel­ings of com­pas­sion and a de­sire to help. I led the photography for The Photo

Ark. It’s been a ma­jor, life­long project of mine to make por­traits of the world’s an­i­mals – es­pe­cially those that are en­dan­gered. I wanted to con­vey a pow­er­ful mes­sage with hu­mour, com­pas­sion and art: to know these an­i­mals is to save them. I don’t think you have to be pub­lished in na­tional mag­a­zines to make a dif­fer­ence. Lo­cal pho­tog­ra­phers can have a tremen­dous im­pact in get­ting their view­ers to think about what’s go­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tally.

I started out in photography with a Nikon FM2 and was wel­comed into the Nikon Am­bas­sador Pro­gram in 2016. A typ­i­cal field setup in­cludes Nikon D4 and D3 bod­ies, and an ar­ray of Nikon lenses cov­er­ing fo­cal lengths from 14mm to 600mm. I also use tele­con­vert­ers, Nikon SB-800/900 AF Speed­lights, re­flec­tors, a Gitzo tri­pod and a Wim­ber­ley head for larger lenses. In stu­dio set­tings I en­sure I’m equipped with a va­ri­ety of back­ground ma­te­ri­als, stands, clamps and other ac­ces­sories. In most cases, I use Pho­to­shop only for ba­sic ‘tra­di­tional dark­room’ func­tions like crop­ping, colour cor­rect­ing and spot­ting out dust.

The Photo Ark started back in 2005, when my wife, Kathy, was di­ag­nosed with breast cancer. My ca­reer as a Na­tional Geo­graphic pho­tog­ra­pher came to an abrupt halt, as I stayed home to tend to her and our three chil­dren. It’s been more than 10 years since then, and Kathy is fine now, but that year at home gave me a new per­spec­tive on the short­ness and fragility of life. I was 42 at the time and, as Kathy re­cov­ered, one ques­tion con­tin­ued to haunt me: how can I get peo­ple to care that we could lose half of all species by the turn of the next cen­tury?

The Photo Ark is de­signed to teach ev­ery­one about our planet’s amaz­ing bio­di­ver­sity and fos­ter a real con­nec­tion to its wildlife. As well as the hard­cover book, an in­ter­ac­tive dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows you to en­gage with

Photo Ark con­tent on our web­site, ex­plore an­i­mals in the col­lec­tion and share in­for­ma­tion about en­dan­gered species with their so­cial net­works. You can also take part in our #SaveTo­gether cam­paign.

The Photo Ark is de­signed to teach peo­ple of all ages about our planet’s amaz­ing bio­di­ver­sity and fos­ter a real con­nec­tion to its wildlife

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