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 Post subject: How does Joel Sartore get his animal subjects?
PostPosted: December 17th, 2016, 7:53 pm 

Joined: October 16th, 2016, 3:00 pm
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Last edited by Jaxl on December 19th, 2016, 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How does Joel Sartore get his animal subjects?
PostPosted: December 18th, 2016, 6:28 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm
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Jaxl wrote:
As Joel Sartore is like a God in wildlife photography,
Lol, Joel is definitely a talented guy but I don't know if I'd say a god in wildlife photography, then again I wouldn't call any one person that either.

He's been working on his photoark project which has gotten a ton of publicity. From what I remember the goal is to photograph every species of animal that is housed in captivity in zoos or collections. He collaborates with zoos and other institutions to photograph the animals they have, doubt that too many places are going to turn him down.

Honestly, I prefer his photos from the field rather than these portraits of captive wildlife he's been doing for ages now. I think I remember reading an interview where he said he wanted to spend more time at home with his family rather than in field on assignment, and this project allowed him to do that and continue to photograph wildlife and make an impact.


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 Post subject: Re: How does Joel Sartore get his animal subjects?
PostPosted: December 19th, 2016, 9:39 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Looking at his website, they appear mostly to come from zoos.

I'm not sure I'm a big fan of that all white/all black background with big diffused light sources. It isn't bad, but after I've seen a few shots I find myself bored of the technique. I think this website for ecuadorian herps makes good use of it for an online field guide. But for general aesthetic photography, I think the style gets old after a while.

It has its place like any technique and I guess specializing in it for big animals is Joel's corner of the market.

I do wonder how much photoshop is involved in the process. With some of the larger animals or group shots, I can't see how you could get the animal into your "studio", even if it is built in their enclosure. That isn't intended as a criticism, I'm just curious. I've done it in the past and it seems like there is always a speck of litter or dust to be removed (if not significantly more serious blemishes!).

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 Post subject: Re: How does Joel Sartore get his animal subjects?
PostPosted: December 19th, 2016, 3:59 pm 

Joined: September 8th, 2011, 5:12 pm
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Location: Oxford, MS
I think part of the trick is having the subject far from the background. That helps remove a lot of the background detail. There probably is a bit of photoshop to be done, but I've done the white shots plenty and while there are the occasional corrections, it's not difficult to get it almost completely right in the camera. It's certainly easier, IMO, to do so on black rather than white.

And I like the big diffusers and soft light. The more photos I see, the more I don't like the point catchlight from an undiffused flash. It doesn't look natural to me.


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 Post subject: Re: How does Joel Sartore get his animal subjects?
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2017, 2:41 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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He "gets them" in animal collections. Almost entirely institutional collections, if I recall correctly.

Quote:
From what I remember the goal is to photograph every species of animal that is housed in captivity in zoos or collections. He collaborates with zoos and other institutions to photograph the animals they have, doubt that too many places are going to turn him down.

Honestly, I prefer his photos from the field rather than these portraits of captive wildlife he's been doing for ages now. I think I remember reading an interview where he said he wanted to spend more time at home with his family rather than in field on assignment, and this project allowed him to do that and continue to photograph wildlife and make an impact.


I was lucky enough to get invited to a kind of ritzy TNC evening event where Sartore was the guest of honor, and he showed a bunch of pics. Honestly, it was one of the most affecting things I've ever seen. I mean it was just incredibly painful, I pretty much had to run out afterwards, and gulp some cold, quiet nighttime air in the parking lot. I was having a really rough patch at work, thinking about canning the whole thing, just OVER IT. Going to this presentation helped me stiffen my resolve to, well, just keep eating the shit you get served in this outrageously difficult endeavor of preventing extinctions. It makes you sick sometimes, this is a high-burnout deal.

Before the show, he talked quite a bit about his approach - why, how, where etc. He was pretty systematic once he began it, but also really thoughtful on the front end, before he began. Yeah, home life was part of it - he'd already had a long career as a gypsy photographer, and realized that gypsy thing was a single person's lifestyle - not that of a responsible father and husband. But he also described "doing the math" - how many species, how many & which zoos in how many & which countries, how many separate plane trips of x duration, how many years left in his life etc - and he came to see that backgrounds and sets and all that was going to cost him a lot of time - was going to prevent his reaching his goal of documenting every available species. Many of these species are not charismatic - he does insects, mollusks, crustaceans, everything. Sometimes he can get a couple of critters done in just a few hours. But many individual species can still take a whole day. There can be a lot of care needed, to keep the subjects and the people safe and comfortable.

Before he began the project, he also pondered his fairly unique penetration into people's homes as a NatGeo guy, and saw the potential to do something really, I dunno, effective and maybe game-changing. He wanted to raise these animals in people's awareness. And a key part of his tactics is to strip away anything - everything - that could possibly distract from the animal itself. Hence the uber-plain backgrounds. It's a simple-message case of "Oh my God, can't you see what a precious and unique being this is - how could we even imagine ending its very existence?"

Anyway, "God of wildlife photography" is kind of silly. But he's definitely a hero in wildlife conservation.


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