Ami Vitale Wins 2021 World Press Photo Award

My photograph of a Rothschild’s giraffe being rescued from Longicharo Island in western Kenya’s Lake Baringo has been honored with the First Place Award in the 2021 World Press Photo Nature Category. I am incredibly grateful to the people at Save Giraffes Now for giving me the opportunity to tell this story and to Kenya Wildlife Service and Ruko Conservancy for the hard work they do each and every day to restore this iconic species.

A HUGE congratulations to my fellow honorees in the contest and in the nature category Carlton Ward Jr., Jaime Culebras, Ezra Acayan, Jasper Doest & Luis Tato. You all are doing such powerful, inspiring work and I am humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence with you all.

In this photo, Pasaka, a younger Rothschild’s (Nubian) giraffe, is blindfolded and rescued from Longicharo Island, in western Kenya’s Lake Baringo, on a makeshift raft. Longicharo Island was once a peninsula, but rising water levels in Lake Baringo turned it into an island. Particularly heavy rainfall in 2019 caused further floods, stranding nine giraffes.

Rothschild’s giraffes are a subspecies of the northern giraffe, and are classified as endangered. The giraffe is the world’s tallest land mammal and the Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the loftiest subspecies, growing up to six meters in height.

The local community worked with conservationists from the Save Giraffes Now, Kenya Wildlife Service and Northern Rangelands Trust to build the barge and transport the marooned animals to a sanctuary in the Ruko conservancy on the shores of the lake. The rains had also led to an abundance of food on the island, so edible treats could not be used to entice the giraffes onto the barge.

Instead, the giraffes had to be tranquilized, which is a dangerous procedure given their anatomy, as they are at risk of choking on their own saliva, and changes in blood pressure can cause brain damage. A vet was on hand to immediately counteract the drug; the animals were then hooded and led onto the barge with guide ropes.

Learn more, including how to help at https://savegiraffesnow.org/

Art for Conservation

I am excited to share this collaboration with the extraordinary artist Mantra, my wonderful friends at both Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Sarara Camp and National Geographic, who conspired to make this wild dream into a reality! For many years, I have been using photography and filmmaking to tell the powerful stories of this community in northern Kenya. I wanted to use other mediums and think about ways to inspire creativity and pride around protecting our planet and the creatures we coexist with.

Reteti is the home of the first indigenous owned and run elephant sanctuary in Africa. Rock Paintings are the oldest form of storytelling. The Samburu elders living here guided us to a place that holds powerful symbolism. THIS ROCK was once used by elephant poachers as a place to hide but now, it is a place for community members, elders and visitors to gather. Mantra is the extraordinary artist who brought my two dimensional photo of a wild elephant from Namunyak to life using water based paints. My concept was to create something from nature that was meaningful and ephemeral. The painting will not last forever, but the memory of what has been created in this community will always live on.

Mantra is a self taught painter who has been painting in the streets since 2008. I was honored that he agreed to bring his genius talent and come to Namunyak for this wild idea. The team at Sarara Camp rallied together with friends at Reteti to build scaffolding and Mantra painted this photo free style in one day. Miracles can happen and we can all do more to make sure our children experience the beauty and wonder of this world.

I am working on another project and looking for financial support. Please email me at ami@amivitale.com if you are interested in helping me with more initiatives to bring together stories, art and conservation. I believe these stories and art shape us and can change the way we see each other. I invite you to be a part of it.

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary: Community United for Elephants

At Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in northern Kenya, the first-ever community-owned and run sanctuary in all of Africa, rescued orphaned elephants are looked after by local keepers from the Samburu community. They are lovingly rehabilitated and raised with the ultimate goal to reintroduce them back into the wild. The sanctuary isn’t just about saving elephants; it’s about breaking down stereo-types and redefining wildlife management. When people realize that they can benefit from healthy elephant populations, they’re proud to take care of wildlife.

Reteti is also empowering young Samburu women to be the first-ever women elephant keepers in all of Africa. At first, the community didn’t think there was a place for women in the workplace. Now, the success of these women elephant keepers is unlocking new possibilities, setting a powerful example for young girls hoping to pursue their dreams. It’s also changing how the community relates to elephants. Schoolchildren who have never seen an elephant before or who were afraid of elephants visit Reteti and experience these elephants up close, and they realize they can grow up to be a veterinarian or an elephant keeper.

In the past the local people weren’t much interested in trying to save elephants. A rescued calf had to be transported to Kenya’s only orphanage, some 240 miles away, near Nairobi. If successfully rehabilitated, the youngster would have to be released into Tsavo National Park, with no hope of re-unification with its original herd way to the north. But now, elephant orphans can be returned to their home ground, where they’ll have a good chance of reconnecting with their relatives.

What’s happening there, without fanfare, is nothing less than the beginnings of a transformation in the way the Samburu people relate to wild animals they have long feared. This oasis where orphans grow up, learning to be wild so that one day they can rejoin their herds, is as much about the people as it is about elephants.

Reteti operates in partnership with Conservation International who provide critical operational support and work to scale the Reteti community-centered model to create lasting impacts worldwide.

Watch the behind the scenes film on Ami Vitale’s work with Reteti Elephant Sanctuary here.

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

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

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 proposal. Yet, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is ill equipped to address the issues faced by female veterans, many of whom are mothers and single parents.

Calvert’s work will focus on the Los Angeles region, where the largest concentration of homeless veterans live. She will examine the painfully slow response to this crisis by the beleaguered U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs as well as the organizations that attempt to help these women. Calvert will put a human face on this neglected crisis by making compelling photographs of the women affected and allowing them to tell their stories in their own voices.

“Mary Calvert’s project on homeless female veterans in Los Angeles qualifies as the poster story for our mission statement,” said Alexia Foundation co-founder Aphrodite Tsairis. “The stark emotion evoked in her images promises to deliver the raw naked truth about a neglected segment in the military – the debilitating aftermath for abused women in the armed forces.”

Congratulations, Mary!

American Illustrator-American Photography

American Illustrator-American Photography are juried showcases for established, emerging and student illustrators and photographers. The award annuals offer high visibility and recognition where it matters most. Winners are published in a large-format, luxurious, hardcover, showcasing  work that’s ahead of its time.

The AI-AP books, published annually in November, are the first go-to resourses for art directors, designers, photo editors and art buyers who insist on assigning only the best original, thoughtful and compelling pictures.

Canon Female Photojournalist Award

The Canon Female Photojournalist Award is an annual prize for women photojournalists. Women photojournalists worldwide are welcome to enter the competition, for which there is no age limit. The 8,000-euro award enables the winners to finance their projects and have their work exhibited at the festival in Perpignan and later in Paris at the Cosmos Galery. I’m grateful to have been a former recipient.

Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

The Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship is a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant social or environmental topic. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

Ian Parry Scholarship

The Ian Parry Scholarship is an international photographic competition for young photographers who are either attending a full-time photographic course or are under 24. Entrants must submit a portfolio and a brief synopsis of a project they would undertake if they won the scholarship. The prize consists of £3,500 towards their chosen assignment £500 to those awarded Highly Commended and Commended, as well as a choice of Canon equipment, publication of the finalist’s work in The Sunday Times Magazine and admittance into the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. Reportage by Getty Images adds the winer to their Emerging Talent Group and Save the Children offers one of the finalists an all expense paid assignment. Deadline is typically in August. Watch the Ian Parry Scholarship website for more details.