17:12 03 January 2017
Joel Sartore, a wildlife photographer, is making people fall in love with endangered species so they can be saved.
"At least 75-80% of the species that I've photographed could be saved from extinction, but people need to know they exist first and they need to fall in love with them and want to learn how they can help them," he says.
Joel has been with the National Geographic for over 15 years before he decided to make use of his talent to save endangered species.
"Magazine stories come and go," he says.
"But I had not seen the plight of endangered species getting better so I thought about what I could do to actually make a difference?"
He found the answer when he photographed a naked mole-rat at a children’s zoo in Nebraska. He placed the small mammal against the white background of a cutting board, creating a professional studio-style portrait in the process.
"I thought maybe if we do eye-contact, if we photograph animals where there are no distractions, all equal in size on black and white backgrounds, where a mouse is every bit as big and amazing as an elephant, then maybe we could get the public hooked into the plight of endangered species and extinction," he says.
His project, called Photo Ark, caught the attention of editors at the National Geographic who later commissioned him to produce series of photographs on endangered species. He has now photographed more than 60,000 species in 40 countries.
"The goal of Photo Ark is to celebrate all creatures great and small and to let people know that as these other species go away, so could we," he says.
"It's in humanity's interest not to throw away all of creation - to keep things around so we have a healthy planet."
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