I just returned from an amazing family trip from Yellowstone and several other National Park (details soon!). I saw bison, bears, deer, wolves, longhorn sheep, pronghorn sheep, mules and more! I have the mental images detailed in my mind, but the actual photos? Meh. So I was excited to have the chance to talk with National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore thanks to my ongoing work as a Wildlife Ambassador with Dawn Dish Soap.
Meet Joel Sartore
In addition to serving in the enviable role as a National Geographic wildlife photographer, Joel is also known for his biodiversity project, The Photo Ark. The Photo Ark is an ongoing effort to document endangered species that are under human care. Don’t click until you’ve read the interview because you will get lost in his amazing collection of 6,5000+ photos.
I just returned from a visit to Yellowstone National Park. I enviously eyed people with telephoto lenses as long as my arm, but alas only took shots with my cell phone. Can you share a few tips for people like me?
You mention that you have the scars to prove your history as a longtime photographer for National Geographic. A favorite song of mine notes that scars are “a map of the adventures and places you’ve been.” Can you share a story behind one of the scars you acquired on the job?
Your portfolio is captivating. Going through it, I noticed some pictures of birds being rescued from an oil spill. I’ve gotten more perspective on that through my work with Dawn. What was that shoot like for you?
Taking photos of animals on the verge of extinction could be depressing, but you seem like a hopeful guy.What keeps you going?
Every animal to me is an inspiration. I care deeply for all of them, and I’m often the only voice they’ll ever have, especially for the ‘least among us’, the little creatures that live deep in the forests, in the water or underground. This is their chance, and I’m here to give it to them, to be heard, loud and clear. It’s a big responsibility, and an honor. So when we lose a species, it both saddens and inspires me to do even more to prevent it from happening again.
What advice do you have for aspiring wildlife photographers or their parents?
I’d say everyone should go into it with their eyes wide open in terms of it not being a very good way to make a living. There just aren’t a lot of publications that pay a living wage to shoot any kind of photos, let alone the nature photos that thousands of people have now taken up as a hobby. In other words, go for it and have fun, but don’t quit your day job.
Anything else you want to mention?
Yes. All of us can make a real and lasting difference if only we try. Here are a few simple ways to save species: