Growing up in Nebraska, Joel Sartore was surrounded by animals and nature. “My father took me hunting, fishing, and mushroom hunting,” he recalls. “And my mother always loved backyard birds and flowers. Because my parents cared about the natural world, I care about it too.”
As the founder of the Photo Ark, a multiyear documentary project to save species and their habitats, Sartore has become a tireless chronicler of endangered species and landscapes. So far, he has shot images of more than 8,500 species. His aim is to create studio-style portraits of all animal species in human care around the world – an estimated 12,000 species at least.
Joel and the Photo Ark are also the subjects of the television series RARE, in which he documents some of the most endangered creatures left on Earth. “It’s folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity,” he says. “When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves.”
The goal of the Photo Ark isn't just to create a record of what we’ve squandered. It’s to get people to change how they think and act in order to save these species.
He is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine; his most recent story, “The Humans of the Bird World,” was published in June 2018. He is also a National Geographic fellow, speaker, and teacher.
In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon magazine, TIME, Life, Sports Illustrated, and has produced numerous books. Sartore and his work have been the subjects of several national broadcasts, including 60 Minutes, National Geographic's Explorer, NBC Nightly News, PBS Newshour, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and NBC’s Today. He also contributes to CBS Sunday Morning.
Sartore’s books include Photo Ark: A World Worth Saving, RARE: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky, and Let's Be Reasonable.
When he’s not travelling the world photographing wildlife, Sartore lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Find out about upcoming programs and expeditions with National Geographic photographers, view more work, or purchase a print by Joel Sartore.