This week, our client, the Omaha Zoo Foundation, invited us to attend the launch of the Photo Ark exhibition, a collaboration between Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and National Geographic, which showcases photographer Joel Sartore’s work.
The exhibition, at the zoo from now through Sept. 4, 2017, is a sampling of the some 6,000 species Sartore has already captured in his quest to photograph the earth’s animals. Shot against a stark white or black background, the animals exude personality. They look you straight in the eye and make you see what will be lost if we don’t act to conserve the world’s biodiversity.
The Photo Ark has been projected in Vatican City and the United Nations, but, now, it has the potential to be seen by the Omaha zoo’s two million visitors this summer. Plus, it will be shown at the Cincinnati and Dallas zoos, and possibly many others. Dennis Pate, director and CEO at the zoo, says that the zoo teamed up with National Geographic to organize the exhibition because “it’s hard to match the draw that zoos have… and we can use it to spur the public to play a bigger role in conservation.”
Not to mention, the fact that since our zoo is one of the exhibition’s organizer, it shines a great light on the critical conservation work they do around the world every single day.
Sartore is from Lincoln, and has a special relationship with the Omaha zoo because he has been going there all his life. He credits the zoo (and his parents, who used to bring him) with helping to inspire his interest in conservation, and has photographed hundreds of its animals.
At the exhibition launch this week, he talked about how he came up with the idea for the Photo Ark more than a decade ago, when his wife was battling cancer (she is fine, now), and he estimates he has about ten or 15 years to go. Sartore says that about ten of the species he’s photographed have already gone extinct, and when he shoots an animal, he always wonders if he’s going to be able to remember it well enough when it’s gone. He considers a picture a success if it gets people to take their minds off the Kardashians or political drama long enough to ask themselves the same question.
The day after the launch reception at the zoo, Sartore was headed off to shoot some mussels, “Mussels look like rocks,” he joked. “I’m probably the only guy on earth who could get excited about photographing them.”
Like so many of his subjects, they are fortunate to have people like Sartore, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, telling their story.