Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joel Sartore: Rare and Beautiful Creatures



A few days from now, the world will observe Endangered Species Day on May 22. That's the date set aside by the Endangered Species Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting creatures and their habitats that are in danger of vanishing. What better way to commemorate this occasion than to feature the photographs from Joel Sartore's Rare series.

Joel Sartore is probably more better for his wildlife photography images which can be found in many National Geographic publications. In his 20 year experience in the field, he has learned to safely get up close and personal with these wild animals. This is reflected in the intimate portraits you see here.


All of these photographs come from Mr. Sartore's photo project entitled Rare, which seeks to give a voice to many creatures that might otherwise disappear from this Earth without most people knowing about them.

Some of the subjects such as the Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse in the first image make for a cute picture and make it easier to advocate for greater awareness of their plight (this particular species of mice is now threatened even more because of the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico).


Many of the other subjects such as the Gray Wolf and the California Condor above aren't as cute or cuddly and are often portrayed in negative stereotypes. This is unfortunate as all these animals have a role to play in their respective ecosystems. Although not endangered, the Gray Wolf is often used as an indicator species which helps scientists track changes in a certain eco-regions.

The California Condor clean up carrion left in the wild. Unfortunately for these magnificent birds, they are critically endangered, with only 384 known condors living in the wild and in captivity.



The diversity of animals in this series just goes to show you that it doesn't matter whether they are carnivore or herbivore, predator or prey; all animals are just as susceptible to possible extinction.

Causes for their endangered status often include loss of habitat or food source and climate change, but most often than not, direct human intervention can aggravate the situation. Urban development and even hunting have led to the vanishing of many species.


The Rare project first began with a few images featured in National Geographic's January 2009 issue. Positive feedback meant that Mr. Sartore could continue documenting a small portion of the more than 1,200 plants and animals on the endangered list.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about these photographs; almost all of the subjects are positioned against an all black or white background with sufficient lighting. Yet the fact that Mr. Sartore took it upon himself to photograph these creatures, from the largest grizzly bears to the smallest beetles allows viewers an extended glimpse into a world that would otherwise be unseen.

The genius of this series is the Mr. Sartore chose the simplest backgrounds and exposures to give viewers an objective view of these subjects, hopefully allowing them to make an emotional connection with these rare animals.


For some poor creatures, these portrait sessions are the last opportunity to be seen by the public. This Columba Basin Pygmy Rabbit, said to be the smallest rabbit species in the world, died a few months after the photo session, with the other of her species passing away soon after. The image above might be the last formal photograph of this species, which is now among the first to be extinct in the 21st century.

One other depressingly morbid picture below shows the last of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow birds encapsulated in a vial of alcohol since its death in 1987.

Hopefully, these images will bring greater awareness for all of these endangered creatures and help them avoid the fate of those that have already gone ahead.





You can find more of these endangered species on Joel Sartore's website. You will find photographs from his Rare series, as well as from his other projects on animal and wildlife photography.  Most of the pictures in this post were taken from the Treehugger and Neatorama websites. You can purchase the book from Amazon.com: National Geographic Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species along with Mr. Sartore's other photography works: Photographing Your Family, Nebraska and At Close Range With National Geographic.





71 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

Beautiful and depressing.

Dejch said...

animals always look so good on the pictures you take

Bonjour Tristesse said...

That ocelot is stunning.

Namaste said...

Great post! Keep up the good work.

Intraman said...

the condor picture is beautiful

Solsby Kid said...

That rabbit looks badass

Speedy Ed said...

aw thats an amazingly cute picture

princy gupta said...

nice post!!!! awesome blog.... :)

fit4life said...

absolutely brilliant post. and beautiful creatures.

CandleintheDark said...

These are amazing. This is important to raise awareness.

Great post sir.

BigMike said...

Uggg some species need not be saved, if they are so specialized that they can only exist in a very specific geographic area then Darwin says they need to go anyways.

jamiesaur said...

Beautiful yet sad. Especially the last one. ;;

Kicking Rocks said...

those are beautiful!

JaksonHunt said...

Wow... that vulture picture is so amazing..

Apollo Clothing said...

I want that mouse, and the wolf. I'm not sure the two will go together though.

Generally Disgruntled said...

Great pictures. The lack of a background just drives the subject even more forward in the mind of the viewer

Alixander said...

Dawwwwwwwwww! Wookit da wittle turtle!

Nutty C said...

All the endangered species are the ones who hold the most beauty. Stunning.

D4 said...

It might not be some extravagant form of photography, but you're right as far as captivating. And why would you show me such a depressing picture? :/

Fang said...

Wolfs, an endangered species? What the hell is going on with the world?

Dave said...

Gotta protect these Animals.

duffboi said...

Such a shame there are species likes this going extinct. These are good photographs tho. Good post.

Team Panda said...

wow ive been in cali my whole life and never seen a condor. There did use to be this white owl that made a nest across from my street once, i always wondered if it was an endangered species.

Anyway, some people would call it natural selection, but i think they're worth trying to save, save the pandas!

Rob said...

Those are some amazing looking animals, its a shame that they are endangered.

Banacek said...

I'm all for endangered species awareness but do we have to have a day for everything?

m.m. said...

aww cute. these pictures are awesome!

tissue rejection said...

Those are beautiful.

Malkavian said...

cool, that leopards eyes look amazing

Flodström said...

No pictures of marine life? Man I rage when I hear about how sharks, whales and dolphines (for example, I loathe all kinds of mass-fishing to be honest), with should be more careful with our waters

Jason said...

Awesome post man! Keep up this excellent work!

Reilly said...

interesting pictures!

Jason said...

Love the blog work! keep it up!

ironchefman said...

Sometimes I wonder how photographers get these animals to cooperate with a photo shoot. They all look like they were done in a studio, or maybe it's creative lighting and setup in the field? I don't know, amazing pictures either way!

G said...

some great pictures and a cool way to draw attention to the cause. I loved the turtle pic...cute and funny lol

Trolske said...

I heard recently, that every day 10 to 200 races are extinct.

-E- said...

if only we could go back in time and record all the species that were around at the end of the last ice age and then maintain that list.

T. Roger Thomas said...

Great condor shot

Shutterbug said...

Beautiful photos! I really like the first one! :)

Wintermute said...

those were some pretty baller pics, cept for the last one.

jblogger45 said...

these pics are great!

Ray Rousell said...

I like the grey wolf photo, it seems to have such a pitiful face.

A Heel in Mint said...

Gorgeous pictures but it's depressing to read. National Geographic pictures are always amazing.

Dale said...

I had no idea these were all on the endangered species list. Great post with a good message, I have to admit I'd be pretty scared if I ever saw one of those California Condors flying around here

Thanks for your comment too. i added the designers from the fashion show just for u. Good idea hehe
-Dale

MRanthrope said...

damn that wolf is majestic as hell.

Necroticism said...

Oh God, that wolf looks AWESOME! is there a higher res of that one?

Jacob said...

I like turtles

Jay said...

@Necrotism: I'm afraid these are the highest resolution images currently available online.

The Game Store Guy said...

Turtle turtle turtle. So adorable.

Marian said...

these are just so much more than amazing

Geoffrey said...

beautiful, but so so sad

HiFi said...

Whoa, these photos are incredible! How does he do it?!

Napoleon said...

Nice post, keep up the good work!

Bart said...

lol at the dead bird in the jar

SOMS said...

woow really beautiful photo's

Jay Reid said...

Awesome photos! Amazing.

Red13 said...

those pictures are amazing

thenitefalls said...

Poor bird in the last photo =(! Other than that these photos are sublime!

OatmealStout said...

Endangered or not, these are kind of creepy! The photos are amazing though.

taio said...

excelente post

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Laughing Vault said...

condor looks awesome

Patti D. said...

those are nice and scary too!!

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Electric Addict said...

i love the minimalism! and there is so much detail at the same time

thesmashhitfantastic said...

this is so sad :( it's so depressing, but what a beautiful project. the more people who see this, the better. i wish the world were a better place.

Jedward said...

Looks awesome!

DocStout said...

Seeing these animals so up close, with nothing in the background to distract, is really cool.

PeaceLoveandSharpies said...

The leopard's eyes! GORGEOUS! *-*

Astronomy Pirate said...

Wonderful pictures, I really enjoy the animals, it is sad to see such great diversity wiped out.

Jaccstev said...

Awesome creatures! Awesome photos!
And yes how poor is that bird in the last photo :(

Acrylic Ingenuity said...

really good photos, keep it up

Sunshine said...

beautiful photos!

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