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Joel Sartore and the Photo Ark

July 23, 2014

Community Commitment

UBT News

Limited Edition Debit Card benefit nonprofits

Joel Sartore, Jun Kaneko, and Michael Forsberg’s art is being featured on our nine Limited Edition Designer Debit Cards. You can have one of these works of art with a $10 donation to the preselected charity of the artist who designed the card. Joel Sartore’s cards will benefit Photo Ark.

The Next Noah

The Photo Ark is Joel’s way to bring awareness to the large and growing number of endangered species. Joel travels to different zoos and animal rescue facilities taking pictures of these animals. What makes his pictures unique are the white or black backdrops he uses. The studio portrait style photography with a stark, clean background is a truly unique way to display and feature these endangered species. When asked why he chooses to use this distinct style Joel replies,

“Well, first, 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. Some of the frogs I’ve photographed are the size of a thumbnail, and this is a way for me to put them on equal footing with bigger animals like lions.”

It’s interesting how all the animals seem equally important and intricate, when there is not a visual cues as to their size. Joel says he started the Photo Ark because of endangered amphibians. “I read an essay on amphibian decline and knew I needed to do something to show these species to the world before they were gone.” While showcasing the beauty of these animals is obvious, Joel’s goals go beyond this. He wants the Photo Ark to document biodiversity, show people what’s at stake, and most importantly, to get people to care while there is still time.

The Photo Ark has photographs of 3,700 different species and is still growing. Although some species can’t be found in the wild anymore, it’s not too late for the others.

The Ark’s Success

One animal that Photo Ark has helped to save is the Florida grasshopper sparrow.  In 2012 the sparrow’s population in Florida’s few remaining prairies was down to just a few hundred, Joel was able to photograph the bird with the help of biologist Paul Miller.  A year later, the photo was featured on the cover of Audubon Magazine with the heading, “End of the Line?” Through that and social media, awareness was finally found for this tiny and tenacious bird.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will be spending $1.29 million, to try to fight the birds’ extinction. With these funds, intensive study and captive breeding can get serious.  The Photo Ark succeeded, but its job is not done yet.

How You Can Help

Photography is one of Joel’s ways to help the environment.  Through it he tries to expose problems and get people to care. Joel has partnered with Union Bank to showcase some of his photos through Union Bank’s Limited Edition Designer Debit Card program.  For a $10 donation to the Photo Ark through Union Bank, you can have a debit card featuring some of Joel’s best work. You can view all nine cards in our card gallery.  Looking for more ways to help? Here are a few suggestions from Joel’s web page.

Find Out For Yourself:
Be aware of what’s going on — read about the issues, talk to people with firsthand experience, and join groups that care about saving the Earth. Most importantly, make up your own mind. Don’t let anybody tell you what to think.

Know Your Impact:
What is your carbon footprint? How can you lessen your impact on the planet? It’s easier than you think, and will probably save you money.

Vote With Your Dollars:
Every time you make a purchase, you are in effect saying “I approve of this product and how it was made, and I want to buy it again.” That’s real power, and the kind you can exercise every day. Consumer choices literally can move mountains.

And Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — In That Order
Reduce what you buy, and buy second-hand when you can. When you purchase an item, it means that resources are used to manufacture it and deliver it to you. Reuse and repurpose what you buy. It turns out that your parents’ and grandparents’ crusade against wastefulness was right on target when it comes to saving the planet. If something can’t be repurposed or passed along to someone else who can use it, recycle it, but think of recycling of an absolute last option.

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Hello. excellent job. I did not anticipate this.
This is a great story. Thanks!

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