600 Pages of Animal Photography, as Shot by One Man

You can't have his job, but you can (and should) have his book

By Athena Wisotsky

 
600 Pages of Animal Photography, as Shot by One Man
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01 March 2017

National Geographic is a little thread that runs through us all.

We all know someone, or have been someone, who picks up a box of the golden books at a garage sale for fifty cents a pop and hoards them like water in a drought for some undecided future use. (It's also where approximately half of all Americans born before the Internet enjoyed their first glimpse of naked human forms, which is neither here nor there, but might explain some of the hoarding.)

I still remember the article about about whales (or let’s be real, the photos) in the 1988 holographic issue, titled As We Begin Our Second Century, the Geographic Asks: Can Man Save this Fragile Earth? I flipped through the issue until the binding broke down, and then I taped the pictures up on my wall.

The magazine has spent 128 years preserving snapshots of people, place and moments in time on planet earth, like the Aghan girl with striking eyes (June 1985) or Koko, the gorilla who had learned nearly 1,000 words (October 1978).

That’s why its new book THE PHOTO ARK: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Nat Geo Fellow and celebrated photographer Joel Sartore is important. As the press release details: “The goal of the National Geographic Photo Ark project is to inspire people to care for vulnerable species and to create an important record of existence for every animal in captivity.”

And unfortunately, says the magazine, half of all Earth’s species could be extinct by 2100 — a result of a changing climate and humanity's propensity to spend resources rather than preserve them. Despite the EPA being an objectively positive thing for the people of Earth at large, the agency is still facing massive cuts and changes, with unclear consequences for future generations. Of the book's efforts, leading primatologist and all-around sweet grandmotherly figure Jane Goodall said, “This is one of the most scientifically important — and artistically brilliant — books ever. You cannot see these sensitive portraits of the diversity of animals living on Planet Earth and not be entranced.  And moved.  And inspired to do all you can to ensure they stay with us.”

The book comes out March 7th, and features a foreword by Harrison Ford.

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