Capturing the world’s species before it’s too late

“You can’t fall in love with something if you haven’t met it.” That’s the philosophy of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, who has spent the last six years capturing images of different species from around the world.

A veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) Photo: © Joel Sartore

Sartore’s goal is to document as many species as possible to show the world living examples of why our Earth is worth saving. So far, he’s taken pictures of more than 2,000 animals as a part of the project, which he calls the Photo Ark. Many of the species he’s photographed are endangered and he hopes that by introducing people to rare animals from across the globe, they might stand a better chance of survival.

In each picture, Sartore uses a simple black-and-white portrait background which he believes creates an even playing field so an elephant is on the same level as a mouse. He feels that all animals are created equal and this project aims to convey that message.

Sartore has no plans of slowing down with the Photo Ark, despite his ongoing work with National Geographic, where he has completed more than 30 projects. Most recently he documented the growing threats posed to endangered koalas in Australia.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” says Sartore of the Photo Ark. “I’d like to get 5,000 species photographed.”

At the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress, Sartore acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the opening of the Forum, in which people from the international conservation community are gathering to address the world’s most pressing sustainable development challenges. 


Work area: 
Social Policy
West and Central Africa
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