I'm Joel Sartore.

Man on a Mission:
Building the Photo Ark

I’m Joel Sartore.

Ever wonder about those wildlife photographers who risk life and limb to get the perfect shot? That’s me. I’ve spent 25 years with National Geographic—and I’ve got the stories and scars to prove it. These days my focus is on the Photo Ark, the world’s largest collection of animal studio portraits. My goal is simple: to get the public to care and save species from extinction.

  • 13,000 species photographed for the Photo Ark
     I'm Joel Sartore.
  • A modern-day Noah

  • 1 porcupine named Piper on the cover of

    National Geographic

    Photo: *Brazilian porcupine (Coendou quichua) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • 4 times chased by grizzlies
    Picture of a grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis, at Sedgewick County Zoo.
  • 300 talks given worldwide
     I'm Joel Sartore.
  • 2 spitting cobras found in camera gear
    Picture of a red spitting cobra (Naja pallida) at the St. Louis Zoo.

Speaking Engagements

“Joel never fails to dazzle.”
Known for his sense of humor and incredible stories from the field, Joel is a popular speaker with conservation, corporate, and civic groups.

Hire him to entertain and inspire your audience.

Book Joel to Speak

Recent Talks

  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  •  I'm Joel Sartore.
  • Photo: An endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) at the Vrendenberg Lab.
  • Picture of a naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) at the Saint Louis Zoo.
  • Photo: Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) at the MK Nature Center in Boise, Idaho.
  • Picture of Federally threatened spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) at the Alaska SeaLife Center.
  • Picture of an endangered six-month-old western red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) named Cinnamon at the Virginia Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered (IUCN) and federally endangered, male Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India.
  • Photo Ark logo

    Joel is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year effort to photograph every species in human care around the globe.

    Explore the Photo Ark

  • A green tree python (Morelia viridis) at the Riverside Zoo.
  • Picture of an endangered silvery Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) at the Gibbon Conservation Center.
  • A compton tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalis vaualbum) from Cross Lake, Minnesota.
  • Photo: Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) at the Avilon Zoo.
  • Photo: Gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) at Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo, Italy.
  • Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Cacatua leadbeateri) also known as Leadbeater's cockatoo or pink cockatoo, at Parrots in Paradise, a bird attraction in Glass House Mountains, Queensland.
  • Picture of an American bison (Bison bison) at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
  • Photo: A Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic.
  • Photo: Green grass lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) at Wroclaw Zoo.
  • Picture of a vulnerable female Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
  • Photo: A female giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK.
  • Uno, a federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) at the Naples Zoo. A gunshot wound caused Uno to go blind in 2014.
  • An endangered baby Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross (Pongo pygmaeus x abelii) at the Houston Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) at the Taiping Zoo.
  • Photo: An endangered Peruvian woolly monkey (Lagothrix cana) at Cetas-IBAMA, a wildlife rehab center in Manaus, Brazil.
  • Picture of a brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) at the PanAmerican Conservation Association in Gamboa, Panama.
  • A red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) at the Sutton Avian Research Center.
  • Photo: Mediterranean jelly or fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) at Loro Parque's aquarium in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain
  • Picture of an endangered pileated gibbon with her eight-month-old infant (Hylobates pileatus) at the Gibbon Conservation Center
  • A federally endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) named Lucy at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

Joel Sartore News

Photo Ark Sweet 16 Birthday Celebration

  You’re invited to celebrate the Photo Ark’s Sweet 16 this year! While there might not be any cake or confetti, it’s still going to be a special day and we want to celebrate with you.   Since it first began with a pink, buck-toothed rodent on August 9, 2006, the Ark has come a…

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