Sartore, a contributor to National Geographic, is 11 years into the project that is estimated will span 25 years. The photographer has managed to capture exquisite images of 6,500 different animal species so far. He has about 6,000 more to go.
In a recent radio interview with Fresh Air, Sartore told interviewer Terry Gross that he photographs the animals in the studio as opposed to in nature to give them equal importance to viewers. This way, all the creatures will be viewed with the same respect.
“A MOUSE is every bit as glorious as an elephant, and a tiger beetle is every bit as big and important as a tiger,” Sartore said.
The main goal of the expansive project is to help preserve the futures of the animals Sartore photographs, many of which are endangered or on the verge of extinction. Sartore said that perhaps the simple portraits depicting each animal and insect’s beauty will help people care more about their futures.
Around 13,000 animals are speculated to be in environments such as zoos, aquariums, and wildlife rehab centers. Because of their adaptation to humans, such animals are not too difficult to photograph. They are sometimes given treats during shoots to ease any tensions.
Sartore enjoys working on the project but also said he feels quite a bit of pressure to get things done.
“I know of at least four or five animals now that are the very last of their kind in the world’s zoos and I’ve got to get to them, and it means I’m gone all the time, and once I get there I’ve got to do the world’s best picture of this animal before it’s lost…”
He goes on to cite various examples of animals in different countries, before adding:
“There’s lots of examples like that, a lot of birds especially. Birds and amphibians. A lot of them are down to the last ones, so I will be greatly relieved when all this is done, but I figure another 15 years or so, that’s what it’s going to take. No matter what, I’m going to get it done if I can still do it, if I can still walk and talk and shoot.”
Whenever he finishes the project, it is indeed a beautiful way for humanity to contribute to the preservation of such wonderful creatures.
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