National Geographic Live Spring 2017

I am excited to continue touring this spring as one of the featured National Geographic photographers at the National Geographic Live series in Tampa, Madison, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles. My talk, titled “Rhinos, Rickshaws & Revolutions,” is about my exploration of the world from temples to war zones and rhinos to pandas. Tickets and information are available online. In the mornings, I will speak to more local school children, and later in the evenings t0 adult audiences. See you out there!

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.”

New Book: Co-Exist

I am excited to announce my first ever edition of a special book this week with some of my most favorite images! Hurry because there are only 150 copies of Co-Exist, curated by the amazing Sara Terry. All the profits will go to Conservation International to support the work they are doing in Northern Kenya. This is a small, micro-press book and there will only be 100 books for sale at $25 per book. An additional 50 books will be available for $50 and will include a signed 4×6 print of my panda work. Please add $5 shipping U.S., $10 shipping outside the U.S.

You can purchase the book via PayPal (be sure to include a note about which book you are purchasing and your address) or contact Sara directly to pay by check.

Why Photos Should Be ‘So Much More Than Beautiful’

I was honored to speak to National Geographic’s Through the Lens blog about my work and the power of photography to connect people.  I wanted to convey the truth about places beyond the dramatic headlines and spend my life working to highlight our commonalities rather than our differences.

The power of photography is that you can look at an image and instantly feel something.  I’ve been on this mission to tell stories that connect and inspire people and at the core of that is empathy.  Empathy is more valuable than any piece of gear or beautifully crafted image.

A technically perfect image, beautiful in every way, is not a perfect image. To me an image has to have soul.  It has to work together with other images to tell a story that make me think.

Pandas Gone Wild

I am excited to share our panda story, now on newsstands in the August issue of National Geographic Magazine. Tremendous gratitude to the incredible team in China working to protect these magical bears and to my colleagues at National Geographic for giving me the opportunity to share this incredible story.

This journey turned out to be one of the most unimaginable explorations I’ve ever had. It is not that anyone hasn’t seen a panda; we all have. But after going to China multiple times, getting to know the people, getting to understand the pandas and learning to really think like a panda, it kind of blew my mind.

In a region where bad environmental news is common, the giant panda might prove to be the exception and is a testament to the perseverance and efforts of Chinese scientists and conservationists. By breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations and protecting habitat, they may be on their way to successfully saving their most famous ambassador and in the process put the wild back into an icon. Pandas’ irresistible power make them important ambassadors for ALL endangered species.

The images and the behind-the-scenes story of my work documenting pandas over three years were also covered by UPROXX, Vice, Huffington Post, Mother Nature Network, Tech Insider, and Business Insider.

National Geographic Live

I am excited to continue my tour as one of the featured National Geographic photographers at the National Geographic Live series in Kansas City May 10, 2016. My talk, titled “Rhinos, Rickshaws & Revolutions,” is about my exploration of the world from temples to war zones and rhinos to pandas. Tickets and information are available online. In the mornings, I will speak to more than 2,000 local school children, and later in the evenings for adult audiences. I will continue to give this talk in several other locations for National Geographic Live in 2016 and 2017. The full list of locations can be found here. See you out there!

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.