The Guardian Warriors of Northern Kenya

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Please see my new work in National Geographic Magazine which will be published in the August, 2017 issue of the magazine about an elephant sanctuary in Northern Kenya. What makes it so special is that it is owned and operated by the indigenous Samburu community. It was a privilege to be allowed into this sacred place. In a world where we often focus only on the things that divide us, it’s important also to talk about the solutions and a way forward. The indigenous people living side by side to the wildlife hold the keys to saving what is left. Please considering visiting  Kenya or even contributing to the sanctuary. Link is at end of this story. 

Fine Art Prints by National Geographic

BHUTAN:THE LAST SHANGRI LA 2: A Buddhist monk enters the formidable doors of Trongsa Dzong, the Ancestral home of BhutanÕs monarchy. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has sat in isolation for thousands of years and only recently has been thrust into the glare of modern times after centuries of solitude. Bhutan is a tiny, remote, and impoverished country wedged precariously between two powerful neighbors, India and China. Violent storms coming off the Himalaya gave the country its name, meaning "Land of the Thunder Dragon." This conservative Buddhist kingdom high in the Himalaya had no paved roads until the 1960s, was off-limits to foreigners until 1974, and launched television only in 1999 .

I am honored to have my work represented as exclusive limited editions by National Geographic | Fine Art Galleries. The galleries are places of learning where conservation of natural resources, the importance of natural places and the wildlife that inhabit the world come to life with every photographic creation. Behind every one of the iconic images is an amazing story.

“I took this photo at the end of the day in a tiny village in the far east of Bhutan. My motto is: I’m the first there and last to leave. I am up before sunrise and I’m the last one to go to bed. My key to success is patience. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m not taking pictures. I’m asking questions, listening, exploring, waiting and watching, and getting to know people so they will let me into their world. 
On that particular day, I was walking around this village with a gaggle of kids, who all spoke perfect English. Normally when I travel around the world, people are always asking for things like candy or money. Tourism leaves a mark, and it’s not always a good one. These kids just wanted to show me around, though. I was about to call it quits when I passed this temple and saw this young monk closing the door to the monastery.
Later that night, when night had fallen, I heard a tapping on the door of the room I was staying in. It was those same children bringing me a lovingly, hand-knitted textile, along with a photo of themselves and a sweet note saying, “We don’t want you to forget us.” I still have that note and the gift and will never forget them.”

Better Photography: It’s NOT about the Image

Check out the latest Better Photography. “Photography is not about the camera. It’s not even about the beautiful images we create. It is about telling powerful stories. Photography is a tool for creating awareness and understanding across cultures, communities, and countries; a tool to make sense of our commonalities in the world we share. And I believe the way to find common ground is by seeing yourself in others. A lot of my work involves traveling to foreign countries and living in remote places. My job is to become invisible and get close to people and wildlife, so I can bring their stories to life. For me, the intimate moments always matter the most. It’s no different being in my home state of Montana, USA than it is being in a country five thousand miles away”. – See more at: http://betterphotography.in/perspectives/ami-vitale-not-about-the-image/44321/#sthash.rpWYrZ7X.dpuf

Skillshare

Skillshare came with me to Venice Beach, California, where I share tools and practices of documentary photography for an online class. There are instructions for an exercise you can do at home and I can view your work being posted to Skillshare. If you use the link here to sign up, you can receive three months of Skillshare Premium for 99 cents. Keep an eye on my Facebook page and Instagram for other special offers from Skillshare.

Flash Print Sale to Benefit Wildlife Rangers in Kenya

Kilifi is an 18-month-old rhino that Kamara is currently hand-raising along with three other baby rhinos at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Kamara spends 12 hours every day, sometimes in pouring rain, watching over the vulnerable baby rhinos. He calls them his children. He is part of the reason Kenya’s black rhinos, whose population had plummeted to near extinction, are doing so well here. Much needed attention has been focused on the plight of wildlife and the conflict between heavily armed poachers and increasingly militarized wildlife rangers. But very little has been said about the indigenous communities on the front lines of the poaching wars and the incredible work they do to protect these animals. These communities hold the key to saving Africa’s great animals. —Ami Vitale

Beginning July 6th, we launched a limited print sale of the touching photo of “Kamara and Kilifi” featured on National Geographic. All proceeds will go to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya to support their powerful work protecting both the endangered wildlife and the people of Northern Kenya. This is a tremendously hopeful story and your support will help rangers, including Kamara, continue this important work.

The $225 prints are 11×14 inches (29×36 cm) printed on matte archival paper and will ship from my studio (free domestic, $35 international). If you are interested, please email me at ami@amivitale.com and include “Flash sale”  in your subject line.

Thank you for your support!

Instagram takeover for The Nature Conservancy

This week, I will be taking over The Nature Conservancy’s Instagram account (@nature_africa) with photos of Loisaba Conservancy (@loisaba_conservancy) in Laikipia, Northern Kenya. Loisaba is an important elephant corridor, with more than 800 elephants spending significant time there, and it plays a critical role in maintaining ecological connectivity between Laikipia and Samburu. I am excited to be able to share this special place with you. You can follow along on my Instagram, @amivitale, and with @loisaba_conservancy and @nature_africa.

A dream trip to China for National Geographic

In April, I was in China for National Geographic Magazine working on my dream project about the rewilding of giant pandas. As conservation icons go, nothing quite beats the giant panda. Instantly recognizable worldwide, adored by billions, a virtual brand whose resemblance to anything wild is as tenuous as it is rare.

Ever since President Theodore Roosevelt’s sons, Theodore and Kermit shot one, in 1928, in the wilds of Sichuan, China, the western world has coveted the clownish, adorable animal and zoos today pay millions of dollars to mount exhibits where panda “ambassadors” on loan from China never fails to attract a crowd.

There are approximately 1,864 giant pandas in the world

Many conservationists privately consider them a relict species: taxonomically unique, shy, and inexorably drifting towards extinction. Their breeding secrets have for decades resisted the prying efforts of zoos and their mountainous bamboo forests have been besieged and fragmented by agriculture.

Chinese scientists and their international counterparts have cracked the puzzle of successfully breeding pandas in captivity and now they are sending these captive born pandas back into the wild. In a region where bad environmental news is common, the giant panda might prove to be the exception and a testament to Chinese conservationists’ perseverance and efforts. By breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations, and protecting habitats, China may be on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador, and in the process put the wild back into an icon.

Alexia Foundation Announces 2015 Photojournalism Grants

Photo by 2014 Alexia Foundation Professional Grantee Sebastian Liste

The Alexia Foundation has announced that it is now accepting applications for its 2015 Professional and Student Grants. The grants and scholarships were created to enable photojournalists to create work that gives voice to those who go unheard, fosters cultural understanding and exposes social injustice.

The Professional Grant Winner will receive $20,000 to help produce his or her proposed project. The Student Winner will receive funding for a semester at the Syracuse University London Program, a $1,000 cash grant to help produce the proposed body of work, and $500 will be awarded to that student’s academic department. A student award will also be given to the Second Place Winner. The judges will determine the number of Award of Excellence Winners there will be.

The Gilka Grant, honoring Robert E. Gilka, will recognize the best student project proposal that also includes a multimedia component. The winner of the Gilka Grant will receive a scholarship to attend the Kalish Workshop.

In the judging of applications, the strength of the proposal will be judged equally to photographic skills. The grants go to those who clearly and concisely propose significant projects that share in the Foundation’s mission and who also submit photographic or motion materials that reflect the ability to execute the proposed project.

The deadline for submissions for the Professional Grant is 2 p.m. Jan. 29, 2015. The deadline for the Student Grant is 2 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2015. Applying for the Student Grant is free, but there is a $50 application fee for the Professional Grant. Please review the rules and application requirements at Alexiafoundation.org.

Making Waves with the New Nikon D750

 

The Nikon D750 has won the coveted award of Popular Photographers Camera of the Year 2014 and I’m not a bit surprised. I was impressed by the power they packed into this well designed body. I bet there is more technology in the full frame D750 then they sent up in the space ship Apollo.

I recently made a trip to Puerto Rico and challenged this camera out in every imaginable way. We put it through some serious tests and literally almost got washed away a few times. The weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body saved the camera and me.  I love working in very low light situations and took it inside pitch black caves. There was no pixelating. The high-speed action was tack sharp as cliff divers plunged beneath me. I fell in love with the well designed, tiltable 3.2-inch monitor that allowed me to get extreme angles and create unusual images shot from the ground.  Combine that with Nikon’s 3D AF tracking. It is simply the best focus tracking you can find.

This camera is great for serious amateurs and professionals. I have it in my lineup now. Its built for high-speed action, high resolution photography and is the best value for money you can find for about $2500.

You can see some of the images here: http://amivitale.photoshelter.com/gallery/Nikon-D750/G00007ud9lhVU850

You can see the official announcement on the PopPhoto web Pages: http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2014/11/camera-year-nikon-d750

Recovering with Love in Haiti for Kenneth Cole Productions

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Haiti and witness the inspiring work of St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, NPH Haiti and the Kenneth Cole Foundation.

The St. Luke Foundation team, a Haitian run organization, is one of the only organizations able to work in the “forbidden” areas, like Cité Soleil, an impoverished and densely populated area described as one of the “worst slums of the western hemisphere” because of the notorious violence. Until 2007, the area was ruled by a number of gangs who roamed the streets and often terrorized the neighborhood. It originally developed as a shanty town and grew to an estimated 400,000 residents, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty.

Learn more about their important work in the story, “Recovering with Love” for Kenneth Cole’s “For Good” magazine.

Read more: Kenneth Cole Foundation: For Good