Joel Sartore is a photographer and National Geographic fellow. He is also an author, speaker, conservationist, and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. Founder of the Photo Ark documentary project, he specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes.
WHAT HE DOES
Photographer and author
WHEN HE WAS A KID
I was very driven, and I still am! I had lots of animals as pets, and my parents encouraged me to learn about all animals great and small. This stuck with me and led me to become a journalist who cares deeply about the fate of the species with which we share the planet.
My parents and my wife, first and foremost, but also people like Jane Goodall, John Wayne, Neil Armstrong, Bill McKibben, and many others.
HOW HE GOT INTO HIS FIELD
I got into photography in college because it didn't require math or chemistry and seemed to come naturally to me. I ended up getting a degree in reporting, which has served me very well. For example, the Photo Ark project requires telling stories in both photos and words, so I'm very glad I learned how to write.
If I'm in the field shooting, I'm up before dawn, then out trying to get good light. Midday is spent planning what to do and where to be in the days to come. I'm shooting again when the light is good at sunset, then editing photos, and in bed fairly early.
I love a good joke, and getting others to laugh is a real treat for me. I try to do it as often as I can.
FAVORITE PLACE HE HAS TRAVELED
Antarctica, because it's epic, gorgeous, and pristine and the animals there have never been hunted [by humans], so they come right up to you.
1) Treat others as you would want to be treated.
2) Waste not, want not. (It's so true.)
3) Never be afraid to charge what you're worth.
HIS FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHY JOKE
A photographer won a million dollars in the lottery. When asked if he was going to retire, he said, "No, I plan to keep shooting until it's all gone."
THE THINGS HE CAN'T TRAVEL WITHOUT
Cameras, lenses, and a laptop computer, of course. Beyond that, a good toothbrush and dental floss.
MOST HEART-POUNDING EXPERIENCE
I've been charged by a variety of animals over the years, from grizzly bears (several times) to musk oxen and even elephants. Any of these will get your attention.