Exceptional Alien: ‘Kenya reminds us of all the wonder and magic of this world.’

World-respected, Montana-based photographer Ami Vitale has captured extraordinary scenes in more than 100 countries. Yet there’s one place that remains at the top of her list when it comes to creative inspiration: Northern Kenya.

Since her first visit to the region in 2009, the Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic photographer has returned regularly to immerse herself in the stories of heartbreak, but more importantly, in the stories of hope. It’s through this hope-filled lens that Ami then shares her compelling imagery of Northern Kenya. Now, with a strong connection to the community and the many conservation organizations there, Ami finds herself returning time and again. We chat to Ami about her lens on the world, her favorite spots to marvel at all living things and her top Travel Gems to explore in Northern Kenya.

Read the full article in Exceptional Alien here.

RollingStone: The Photographers Trying to Save Our Planet

Ami Vitale was a war and conflict reporter for almost a decade before she made the switch to capturing images of our planet in peril: “I had this profound realization that all these conflicts, horrors of the world were deeply connected to nature,” she tells Rolling Stone from her home in Montana. “You could look at almost every single one of them and realize it was all connected to resources — everything we need comes from nature.” She began photographing endangered species, like the Northern White Rhino, hoping to get others tapped into the urgency of the problem. “I started to find stories about not just what we’re doing to the planet, but answers, too,” she says. “You can continue to talk about the horrors of the world, shock people, but what were we going to do about it?”

One thing she could do, she decided, was to get this kind of work into everyone’s home — because if people could look at a stunning image of an important subject every day, it might inspire them. So, for the past four years, Vitale has been running print sales that benefit conservation nonprofits — raising, she says, nearly $3 million over four years through fundraising and selling artwork donated by herself and her peers. “The first time I did this was because the U.S. was going to reverse the ban on the elephant tusk trade,” she says. “I was so enraged and felt so hopeless that I launched a print sale to benefit an elephant sanctuary I’d been working with.” That raised $50,000 in a couple weeks, she says.

Now, officially registered as the nonprofit Vital Impacts, Vitale and her cofounder, journalist Eileen Mignoni, have assembled an impressive group of 100 photographers — including National Geographic cover photographers, celebrated fine artists, up-and-coming talents, and one Dr. Jane Goodall — to donate images in a sale that lasts through Dec. 31. Sixty percent of profits go to conservationist groups, while 40 percent goes directly to the photographer. “Even if people don’t buy images, I hope they get inspired by the artists,” Vitale says.

HereRolling Stone has gathered selection of images and their stories to perhaps inspire others to begin to care about these species that, as Vitale says, lived here for millions of years — but couldn’t outlive us.

Overheard at National Geographic: Episode 5: Giraffes on a boat

It sounds like the start of a bad joke: How do you move eight giraffes—including a newborn calf—off an island in Africa’s Western Rift Valley? Answer: It isn’t easy, and it involves a boat, blindfolds, and earmuffs. We follow conservationist David O’Connor on an epic (and awkward) journey to save these endangered animals.

Listen to the podcast here.