PetaPixel

The Photo Ark: Highlighting Endangered Animals Through Studio Portraits

It’s no secret that wild animals can be immensely difficult to photograph. Now imagine taking photographers of large wild animals in a studio-like setting. It’s just what photographer Joel Sartore has managed to capture in his work for The Photo Ark project. The project aims to document endangered species (with over 2650 photographed to date), in order to raise awareness of the fact these creatures may soon be gone.

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Sartore has worked with numerous zoos and rescue facilities to document this biodiversity, and prints are available, which helps Sartore continue his work:

“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,” says Sartore.

But why not photograph these animals in the wild? Why in a studio setting?

According to Sartore, “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.”

A porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) at the Great Plains Zoo.

A porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) at the Great Plains Zoo.

A young, female Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana) at the Omaha Zoo.

A young, female Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana) at the Omaha Zoo.

An endangered Indain rhinoceros female with calf (Rhinoceros unicornis) at the Fort Worth Zoo.

An endangered Indain rhinoceros female with calf (Rhinoceros unicornis) at the Fort Worth Zoo.

A male okapi, at White Oak Conservation Center.

A male okapi, at White Oak Conservation Center.

A hawk-headed parrot (Deroptyus accipitrinus) at the Houston Zoo.

A hawk-headed parrot (Deroptyus accipitrinus) at the Houston Zoo.

You can see more of Sartore’s beautiful endangered animal portraits over on the Photo Ark website.