"I got my courage from being behind the camera. The second I had it in my hands, I felt like a superwoman. By putting attention on others, it empowered me. This little black box gave me the courage and helped me realize that being an introvert was not a weakness – it actually gave me the ability to listen and truly hear others’ stories."
“Today, my motivations are very different from when I began. Photography and storytelling are much more than a tool for my own self-empowerment. In the beginning, I plunged right in to tell the stories of humanity and war, and I was asked to focus on the horrors of the world. After a decade, I realized a profound truth; I had been telling stories about people and the human condition, but the backdrop of every one of these stories was the natural world."
"In some cases, it was a scarcity of basic resources like water. In others, it was the changing climate and loss of fertile lands, but the demands placed on our ecosystem always drove conflict and human suffering. Still, billions on the planet do not have access to clean water."
“Today, my work is not just about people. It’s not just about wildlife either. It’s about how the destiny of both people and wildlife are intertwined and how small and deeply interconnected our world is.”
Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic Magazine photographer Ami Vitale has travelled to more than 100 countries, bearing witness not only to violence and conflict, but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Throughout the years, Ami has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit – keeping true to her belief in the importance of "living the story". In 2009, after shooting a powerful story on the transport and release of one the world’s last white rhinos, Ami shifted her focus to today’s most compelling wildlife and environmental stories. Instyle Magazine named Ami one of fifty Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up and get things done.
She is a five-time recipient of World Press Photos and published a best-selling book, Panda Love, on the secret lives of pandas. Vitale was the subject of the Mission Cover Shot series on the NationalGeographic Channel as well as another documentary series featuring Madagascar. She lectures for the National Geographic LIVE series, and she frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
We Go. We Film. We Tell Remarkable Stories About Women. We Share. Ami is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, an organisation of renowned female scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers working together to create powerful and persuasive stories that shed light on the hardships women in developing countries face, and the programs that can help them. She is also on the Photojournalism Advisory Council for the Alexia Foundation and is the current President of the National Geographic Advisory Board.
Ripple Effect Images is a nonprofit collective of world-class storytellers. We believe that women and girls are forces of nature and our work supports aid groups that empower them.
Currently based in Montana, Ami is a contract photographer with National Geographic Magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Ami Vitale started as a photo editor for the Associated Press in 1993. She then quit her job to be a photographer/foreign correspondent in the Czech Republic in 1997. Today, she is a well-known conservationist championing the cause of endangered wildlife and the environment with her own photography and that of others.
"Ignorance of each other's stories leads us to assume we know them, and so we maintain perceptions of differences based on our own preconceived notions."As a young woman, I was painfully shy, gawky and introverted,” Vitale tells PetaPixel. “I did not have a clear direction or know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Something incredible happened when I picked up a camera. It gave me a reason to interact with people and took the attention away from myself."