NPR logo Portraits Of America's Endangered Species

National Geographic

Portraits Of America's Endangered Species

Joel Sartore is like the Richard Avedon for animals — except rather than showing up in fashion spreads, his photographs are often in National Geographic magazine, including this month's special water-themed issue. Sartore's latest project is a book called Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species, which was released just this week. On plain black or white backdrops, he presents poignant portraits of U.S. wildlife threatened by extinction.

"To see the last of any species in a glass jar of a museum preservative is an absolute outrage to me," Sartore writes in the introduction. The photographer traveled from coast to coast, from the Oregon Zoo in Portland to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, to capture America's flora and fauna that are dwindling in numbers. "By photographing the most endangered of our plants and animals," he writes, "I can make the most dramatic plea to get folks to stop and take a look at the pieces and parts that we're throwing away."

Check out this video that shows the making of Sartore's book. You can also see more photos from the April magazine article on saving freshwater species. A selection of the photos will on be display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., through October, and Sartore will presenting a National Geographic Live lecture on Tuesday, April 20.

RARE: Behind the Scenes from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.

Article continues after sponsorship

Have an idea? Pitch it!

The Picture Show on Facebook or on Twitter