From National Geographic to the Photo Ark: The Endless Quest for the Perfect Picture

with Joel Sartore

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Course Description

Photography has a vast potential to educate and inspire people to action, and no one knows that better than Joel Sartore. Over three days he shares his 30-plus years’ worth of experience working for National Geographic and the development of the Photo Ark, his 25-year effort to photograph every captive species on Earth.

Everybody’s got a camera, but few people know how to actually see well. Regardless of subject and location, the basic building blocks for good photography remain unchanged: light, background, and a moment. It’s the second element that really separates the serious from the rest. In fact, background is so critical that Joel often builds pictures from the background forward; if he can’t find a way to make the background work, he moves around until that element is fixed.

Participants witness this process in action on Day One, when we go on assignment with Joel for National Geographic and hear his stories from the field. On Day Two we take a behind-the-scenes look at Photo Ark, learning how Joel’s creative and compositional choices ensure that all photographed creatures are given an equal visual voice. The result is a collection of portraits that ask the viewer to care about these species while there’s still time to save them.

On Day Three, we delve into step-by-step detail about what constitutes a successful image. It’s not about where you are or even the kind of equipment you use. It’s your intention, vision, and approach that determine how good an image is—and, ultimately, the impact it has on the viewer.

As Joel shares a deep wealth of experience and passion for the power of a photograph, you discover how to elevate your own images to their full potential while making the world a better place in the process. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn from one of the most committed photographers of our time.

A 10 to 15 minute Question and Answer session follows each daily presentation. Questions from the participants will be reviewed and a few selected during this informal wrap-up conversation.

Additional Information

All are welcome

View Withdrawal and Transfer Policies for online programs.

For the convenience of participants, recordings of each class session are posted privately for one month after the end of each session. Santa Fe Workshops takes the recordings down after one month to protect the intellectual property of our instructors.

Nature & Landscape
Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, conservationist, and the 2018 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. A regular contributor to publications such as National GeographicAudubonGeoThe New York Times, and Smithsonian, he specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. His ongoing documentary project Photo Ark was the subject of the television series Rare. Joel and his work have also been featured on major network news shows, as well as PBS NewsHour and NPR’s Fresh AirHe has authored numerous books including Photo Ark: A World Worth Saving, The Photo Ark Vanishing: The World’s Most Vulnerable AnimalsBirds of the Photo Ark, and Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species.


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