Blog | (aka. thoughts and ideas)

Ami and pandas

A dream trip to China for National Geographic

May 8, 2015 in photography, Uncategorized

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 ... Read More


Alexia Foundation Announces 2015 Photojournalism Grants

December 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

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 ... Read More


Making Waves with the New Nikon D750

December 2, 2014 in Nikon, Uncategorized

  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 ... Read More

One of Haiti's biggest shantytowns, a vast expanse of cinderblock homes on a mountainside in the nation's capital got a makeover. Workers painted a rainbow of colors on the facades of the buildings in Jalousie slum. The $1.4 million effort titled "Beauty versus Poverty: Jalousie in Colors" is part of a government project to relocate people from the displacement camps that sprouted up after Haiti's 2010 earthquake. Photo by Ami Vitale

Recovering with Love in Haiti for Kenneth Cole Productions

September 10, 2014 in Haiti, photography

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 ... Read More

Justin and Mandy Tolbert's children squeeze into the 36-foot camper in Bainville, Montana, where they have lived for almost two years.

Covering the Bakken Oil Boom for National Geographic

September 6, 2014 in Montana, photography

I had the extraordinary opportunity to explore Eastern Montana for National Geographic where the Oil boom from the Bakken region is impacting tightly-knit farming communities. While the discovery of oil has created newly minted millionaires and enormous opportunities, it has also brought complex problems and forced locals to ask important questions about the destiny of their landscape. For now, the explosive growth looks like it will continue and for many, the oil and gas are a blessing. ... Read More

Connie Sue Foss was raped while in the US Army and hasn’t been able to hold down a job to care for herself and her daughter. She bears scars from punching a window during a PTSD episode and holds a molar she lost from grinding her teeth at night. Photo by Mary F. Calvert

2014 Alexia Women’s Initiative Grant Winner is Mary F. Calvert

September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Alexia Foundation has announced that the recipient of the 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant is Mary F. Calvert, an independent photojournalist based in the United States. Calvert will utilize the $25,000 grant for her project “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans.” “Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States and are four times more likely to become homeless than civilian women,” Calvert tells the foundation in her ... Read More

Orphaned baby southern white rhinos (with ranger Yusuf Gilisho) snooze after a meal of milk at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in the foothills of Mount Kenya. Created in 1995, Lewa has become a role model for sustainable wildlife conservation throughout East Africa. Today, it hosts more than 60 rhinos. Photo by Ami Vitale

The Price of Poaching for The Nature Conservancy

August 26, 2014 in Africa, extinction, Kenya, photography, poaching, rhinos

Five years ago, I heard about a plan to airlift four of the last Northern White Rhinos from a zoo in the Czech Republic back to Africa. It sounded like a storyline for a Disney film but in reality, it was a desperate, last ditch effort to save an entire species. There are only seven of these rhinos left in existence. When I saw these huge, hulking gentle creatures surrounded by smokestacks and factories in the zoo outside of Prague, it seemed so unfair that we have reduced an entire species to ... Read More

Use long exposure to capture a stunning shot of flames. Photo by Ami Vitale.

Shooting Around a Campfire for National Geographic

August 12, 2014 in Montana, photography, travel

I wrote up some advice for National Geographic Readers on how to shoot around a campfire. Let me know if it's helpful. Sitting around a campfire and telling stories with my friends is one of my favorite things to do on summer nights in Montana. I believe that storytelling is at the heart of what makes us human and is at the heart of what every photographer strives to do. Campfires also make for interesting images, and it’s a fun way to experiment with slow shutter speeds. The biggest ... Read More


Gear talk: Nikon’s Coolpix

February 25, 2014 in Multimedia, Nikon, photography

My workhorse cameras have been the Nikon D4 and D800 but recently, I picked up Nikon's compact P7800 Coolpix and it has reignited my passion for photography. Normally I carry big lenses and heavy gear on my adventures but have found its really not that practical in a lot of situations. For example, when I'm on horseback or on the slopes, dangling lenses can get knocked around pretty badly.  But I never have wanted to sacrifice image quality for the convenience of a small camera. Now there is a ... Read More

Kamara, a keeper at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in central Kenya, slept among three orphaned baby rhinos. The calf he rested his head on was orphaned when poachers killed his mother about 50 miles away.

IndieVoices Campaign a Success!

February 19, 2014 in Africa, photography

Thanks to the generosity and support from an extraordinary community, my IndieVoices crowd funding campaign has been successful and we are on our way to creating a very important project! I am grateful to everyone who contributed and shared this story.  The New York Times and National Geographic Proof also featured it on their websites. Commercial poaching organized by sophisticated heavily armed criminal networks and fueled by heavy demand from newly minted millionaires in emerging ... Read More