National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is playing himself in the Nov. 16 episode of GENERAL HOSPITAL as he makes a special appearance showing images from his Photo Ark at the Jerome Gallery. “Well, this is something I never thought I’d do; be on a soap opera!” Sartore tweeted. “But the entire cast and crew of GH could not have been nicer, even when I flubbed my lines. Such an honor to partner with GH to give species a lift, thanks to their loyal audience.”
Sartore has been working on the Photo Ark for 25 years now, in an effort to document the tens of thousands of species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. According to his official website, Sartore has photographed almost 12,000 species so far, but he’s not done yet! “The Photo Ark started back in 2005 when my wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer,” he revealed. “My career as a National Geographic photographer came to an abrupt halt as I stayed home to tend to her and our three children.
“It’s been more than 10 years and Kathy is fine now,” Sartore continued, “but that year at home gave me a new perspective on the shortness and fragility of life. I was 42 at the time, and as Kathy recovered, one question continued to haunt me: How can I get people to care that we could lose half of all species by the turn of the next century? Perhaps a series of portraits, made as simply and cleanly as possible, would give us all a chance to look animals directly in the eye and see that there’s beauty, grace, and intelligence in the other creatures we share the planet with.”
Sartore is determined to take photographs of every species out there and expects it will take another 10 years to accomplish his goal. He also does speaking engagements to raise awareness for the Photo Ark and wildlife conservation, so bringing his project to a national television audience courtesy of GH was a no-brainer. “On the set of GH with Frank Valentini, the executive producer,” the photographer tweeted as he shared a pic of them together. “The Photo Ark was featured in several episodes, thanks to Frank’s desire to give lift to the Photo Ark and all the creatures within.”
Given that the Photo Ark is primarily self-funded, Sartore urges fans to help support his efforts by purchasing one of the Photo Ark books, a fine art print of one of his images, by supporting your local zoo or making any number of small changes in your daily life to help wildlife around the world.
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