Sartore has developed some tricks along the way. Small containment tents and a flash can coax certain subjects, especially smaller land animals, into eye contact. “It looks like they’re in there to get their senior prom pictures done,” he jokes.
The best way to share his images, he’s found, is through Instagram
. Sartore himself has a hefty following, and his images are often featured on the main National Geographic account
, which has nearly 80 million followers.
“It’s a really good time to get the word out, and try to get species to go as viral as Kim Kardashian,” he quips, “to try to get people to pay attention to more than just celebrity news and the price at the gas pump.”
Presently, Sartore says, the world’s accredited zoos, aquariums, private breeders, and animal rehabilitation centers, hold around 13,000 species. But that number will drop over time as the last of some species die. “That number’s going to diminish at the same time that the number of species I’ve photographed is growing, so we’ll probably end up meeting at about 12,000,” he notes. Right now, he’s more than halfway there, with over 6,000 species documented.
Given that many of the species he shoots are the last of their kind, Sartore believes that for many animals, his photographs are the final chance to draw public attention to that animal’s endangerment. “Whether they’re considered a pest, something glorious and beautiful like a bird of paradise or an elephant, or one of the non-charismatic species—the sparrows of the world, the toads, the salamanders, the grasshoppers—I try to be the voice for the voiceless.”
“It’s an honor and a big responsibility to to be entrusted to do this, and I try to treat them all equally,” he adds, “they’re all loved and welcomed on board the Photo Ark.”