Noah’s Photographer

9781426217777_a4172In the midst of a project to photograph every species of animal held in a zoo, aquarium, rehab center, or similar location, National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has published a sampling in his new book The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals (National Geographic).

Interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, his book soared up the Amazon rankings to #32 this morning.

After a decade of shooting in the wild Sartore says he hopes that creating intimate, close up portraits will help humans become more invested in saving the other species that share the planet.


To give each species its due, the animals are presented studio style against a black or white background. “A mouse is every bit as glorious as an elephant, and a tiger beetle is every bit as big and important as a tiger. It’s a great equalizer.” It also reveals aspects of the personality of each animal. Some look joyful, some curious, some scared.

By the turn of the next century we stand to lose nearly 1/2 of all species, Says Sartre, making the project particularly urgent. “A lot of the species that you see in The Photo Ark would be extinct by now if it weren’t for captive breeding programs … I know of at least four or five animals now that are the very last of their kind in the world’s zoos and I’ve got to get to them, and it means I’m gone all the time, and once I get there I’ve got to do the world’s best picture of this animal before it’s lost.”

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