PROJECT: Photo Ark

2005. Joel Sartore had just learned that his wife had cancer and his whole life collapsed. As a geographic photographer he often travelled the world, sometimes for weeks or months. Now, it was time to be with his family and think differently. In the meantime, his growing worry about species going extinct became even more pressing. Not knowing what to do, he turned to what he knew best: photograph animals. How to start? By simply call the nearest Zoo and take a photo of a naked mole rat 45762-200.

2021. After 15 years, 12,000 species were photographed by him all over the world. Unfortunately, six of those species got extinct after being photographed. Fortunately, we have their picture. Now a new goal has been set: to photograph 20,000 species. This is the Photo Ark project and it aims to raise awareness about the extinction of species. Oh, and by the way, his wife is very well and healthy.


Like every other project, the first thing to do was to find funding. Joel Sartore presented the project to National Geographic and they were more than happy to support it. The aim was set to photograph species in Zoos and Wildlife Sanctuaries without a final deadline. As mentioned, it took him 15 years to reach the goal of 12,000 species and now there is a new goal, also without a final deadline.

Joel Sartore takes all the photos himself. The photos are taken one species at a time against a black or a white background. Animals are treated like little stars, with much respect… and much patience at times. Some of they are timid, so Joel Sartore has to gain their trust. Others are very busy and they want to leave, so Joel Sartore has to use his persuasion techniques to convince them to stay. All species have the same importance, so they are portrayed in a way they can be at equal terms. For example, although some are much bigger than others, using the same background help us to see them at their maximum glorification regardless their size. But sometimes Joel Sartore has to use his imagination to make them fit within the camera angle.

Taking photos is not the final goal. The final goal is to show the pictures to the whole world. The idea is this: if people can get to know the animals, identify with them, and fell in love with them, they can help prevent their destruction. Apart from the official website 45762-200, the project has:

  • published several books 45762-200;
  • resources to be used in educational activities 45762-200;
  • exhibitions all over the world 45762-200;
  • the possibility for people to donate 45762-200;
  • engage in different events like projecting the pictures on famous buildings (like the Empire State building in New York or the Basilica S. Pedro in the Holy City);
  • documentary films broadcasted on tv.

    For more detailed information:

  • Joel Sartore 45762-200
  • Photo Ark 45762-200
  • Book: “The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals”, by Joel Sartore

    Check other project in the world.


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