It started simply enough with endangered amphibians. I read an essay on amphibian decline and knew I needed to do something to show these species to the world before they were gone forever.
How to Help
Some support for the project is being provided by National Geographic and their Field Test blog. The zoos and rescue facilities I’ve worked at have all been incredibly generous with their time. One of the most important sources for funding, though, is individuals just like you.
If you like this work and want to see more of it, please consider purchasing a print from the Project.
Visit The Biodiversity Project on my website, www.joelsartore.com. When you find a picture you like, there’s a “Buy This Print” button just to the right. Click on that to start.
In the world of fine art photography, our prints are ridiculously cheap – 8 x 10s are $40 – and we do that because I want people to see these images and talk about the species they show. A print above the right kitchen table can have just as much of an impact as one in a gallery. You’ll get a signed archival print, and the proceeds will fund additional shoots. National Geographic has supplied some of the funding, but it only goes so far.
On a typical shoot, I go through half a roll of background paper and a few yards of black velvet. The sale of one 8×10 print covers the paper, and an 11 x 17 will supply me with velvet. It’s not a lot, but multiply that by 50 shoots or a hundred and it really adds up. We reuse what we can, but once a hippopotamus or chimp has had its way with background material, there’s not much else to be done with it.
Another way you can support the Biodiversity Project is by visiting and patronizing your local zoo. Zoos and aquariums are vitally important to conservation today. Not only do they fund and manage captive breeding programs, but they are increasingly involved in conservation of habitat in the wild. Find an accredited zoo or aquarium in your area here.
Last but not least, learn more about your favorite animal. A simple web search will likely lead you to the organizations working on its conservation. Support them. And share what you know with your friends and family. The more people who are informed and who care, the better.
Why Studio Portraits?
Well, first, some of the species in the project simply can’t be found in the wild any more. Another reason for this portrait style is that it gives equal weight to creatures big and small. Some of the frogs I’ve photographed are the size of a thumbnail, and this is a way for me to put them on equal footing with bigger animals like lions.
Which Species Do You Photograph?
Though I started with amphibians, as I went from place to place, I’d hear about other species in trouble — primates, reptiles, migratory birds, and more. So now, I photograph anything that will hold still on a background long enough for me to take a picture.