I recently had the opportunity to visit National Geographic’s Photo Ark exhibition whilst in Vilamoura Portugal, although the exhibition is touring extensively and showing in many museums and pop ups worldwide.
The Vilamoura exhibition hosts over 50 pieces of works by Joel Sartore and runs until September 30th, entrance fee €10. I may add it’s worth watching the accompanying video which gives a light hearted look behind the screens showing how Joel mostly uses a light box with either white or black background to great success (most of the time) to ultimately represent the 12,000 species of endangered animals featured, highlighting their plight due to habitat loss.
Below is a statement from Joel Sartore on his ambitious project, I wish him the best of luck.
National Geographic Photographer and Speaker Joel Sartore
About the Photo Ark
The Photo Ark started back in 2005, when my wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. My career as a National Geographic photographer came to an abrupt halt as I stayed home to tend to her and our three children.
It’s been more than 10 years, and Kathy is fine now, but that year at home gave me a new perspective on the shortness and fragility of life. I was 42 at the time, and as Kathy recovered, one question continued to haunt me: How can I get people to care that we could lose half of all species by the turn of the next century?
Perhaps a series of portraits, made as simply and cleanly as possible, would give us all a chance to look animals directly in the eye and see that there’s beauty, grace, and intelligence in the other creatures we share the planet with. Black and white backgrounds level the playing field, making a mouse every bit as grand as an elephant. In these portraits, they are equals.
All species are vitally important to our very survival; we need bees and even flies to pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat. We need intact rain forest to regulate the amount of rainfall we get in areas where we grow crops. But beyond what’s in it for us, I believe that each species has a basic right to exist.
There are about 12,000 animal species in human care around the world. So far, I’ve made portraits of more than 8,000, and we’ll keep going until we get them all. It’ll take another 15 years or so. The goal is to show the world what biodiversity actually looks like and get everyone to care about saving species while there’s still time.
I hope you agree that the future of life on Earth is something that deserves our full attention. If so, please tell your friends that you care about all creatures, great and small. Share the photos. Help us celebrate. Join others devoted to saving species and habitats. We all can make a difference.