ExplorersBio

Joel Sartore

Photographer

Fellow

Picture of a western lowland gorilla at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX

Photograph by Joel Sartore

Picture of Joel Sartore at a game preserve in South Africa

Photograph courtesy Joel Sartore

Best known for his photographs of wildlife, Joel Sartore wields his camera in the battle to conserve natural spaces and the habitats they support. With over 20 years of experience as a National Geographic photographer, Sartore is on a mission to document endangered species and landscapes in order to show a world worth saving.

Sartore's interest in nature started in childhood, growing up in Nebraska, when he learned about the very last passenger pigeon from one of his mother's Time-Life picture books. Since then, his assignments have taken him to every continent and to the world's most beautiful and challenging environments, from the high Arctic to the Antarctic. He has been chased by a wide variety of species, including wolves, grizzlies, musk oxen, lions, elephants, and polar bears.

Sartore's work is about more than taking beautiful photographs. He is on a mission to teach people about the effects humans are having on the world's ecosystems. In his words, "It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves."

His 30-plus stories in National Geographic magazine include the March 2000 cover story "Madidi: Will Bolivia Drown Its New National Park?" which played a crucial role in helping to convince the Bolivian government to abandon its plans to build a large-scale hydroelectric dam that would have submerged a large portion of pristine forest.

In additional to his work for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon Magazine, GeoLifeNewsweekSports Illustrated, and Time. He has written several books, including RARE: Portraits of America's Endangered Species, Photographing Your Family, and Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky. Sartore and his work have been the subjects of several national broadcasts, including National Geographic's Explorer, NBC Nightly News, NPR's Weekend Edition, and an hour-long PBS documentary, At Close Range.

Sartore graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in journalism. He currently lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children.

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In Their Words

When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves.

—Joel Sartore

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    A Call for Action

    Sartore speaks about his experience in the field and what he has learned about saving the planet.

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