Ami Vitale grew up in Florida where, by her own admission, she was “an introverted, shy, gawky young woman.” Then one day she picked up a camera—and had an epiphany.
“I realized that being behind the camera is really where I got my courage. The camera became my passport to engaging with the world around me. It is an incredible tool for creating awareness and understanding across cultures and countries, a tool to make sense of our commonalities in the world we share.”
Following in the footsteps of such iconic female photographers as Eve Arnold and Inge Morath, Vitale has become one of the world’s most humane and empathetic visual storytellers, travelling to more than 100 countries where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit.
Vitale is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine, most recently covering the wild side of pandas, the fragile peace in Sri Lanka, and the first ever community owned and run elephant sanctuary in Africa. Her work is also exhibited around the world in museums and galleries, and are part of numerous private collections. She has garnered prestigious awards including multiple prizes from World Press Photos, the first Magnum Inge Morath grant, and the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting. Her first book, Panda Love: The Secret Lives of Pandas, was published in 2018. She was recently named by Instyle magazine as one of 50 women changing the world, along with Jane Goodall and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among others.
She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of scientists, writers, photographers, and filmmakers with a mission of creating powerful stories that illustrate how women in developing countries are affected by climate change. She sits on the executive advisory committee of the Alexia Foundation’s Photojournalism Advisory Committee.
Now based in Montana, Vitale continues to make films and stories of the planet's most pressing issues, and frequently gives lectures and workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Find out about upcoming programs and expeditions with National Geographic photographers, view more work, or purchase a print by Ami Vitale.