In Photography

It was a privilege hearing Ami Vitale speak Thursday night in Aspen. Thank you to ACES,   who brought her here, part of the Jessica Catto Dialogues series.

Ami Vitale, , is a National Geographic photographer who has gone from documenting war zones to working on subjects of her choice. Ami wants to bring an emphasis on inspiring stories that bring hope for our planet and humanity.

Amy’s presentation resonated with me because, at my own level, I share and try to apply some ideas she presented in her talk:

Showing beauty and telling inspiring stories are essential. Most of the news we hear everyday are from wars, violence and disasters. Like Amy says, “If you turned on the news you would just see the very worse in humanity”. But everyday in our life, there are so many stories of joy, achievements, beauty and resilience that can bring hope and inspiration to our world.

We are all interconnected. Cultures differ, but everywhere in the world, human beings experience the same kinds of emotions, from pain or sorrow to joy and love. People find strength and happiness in their family or community.  Amy has lived in remote areas for an extended period of time and can talk from her own experience. When I spend time in the Himalayas and meet people, I feel the same.

Community’s involvement to preserve the environment and wildlife is essential. Amy shows beautiful stories of local population caring for rhinos and elephants. “You can throw all the money in the world at these problems, but it’s all about the communities living with wildlife” does she say about protecting animals. Bhutan is a great example of involvement of the community regarding that matter. Preservation of the environment is one of the four pillars of happiness, besides good government, economical growth and cultural conservation. The country is still covered by 60 % of forests and hosts a very large diversity of animal species.

Storytelling is powerful. Numbers frighten us and often make issues appear overwhelming. But telling the story of a Kenyan person who thrives working in an elephant sanctuary or, for what I know more about, the story of a young girl in Nepal who goes to school and therefore is not a victim of trafficking and will have a future, brings hope to our world and inspires others to support a cause.

Ami Vitale’s own story is powerful. She had the courage to leave her job in photojournalism, where she was chasing sensational news, so she can now pursue her own passion, dig deeper in the subjects she chooses, in order to make the world a better place. She is reminding us that we all have a voice and a story to tell, but we need to have the courage to pursue it.

I hope you will take the time to look at Ami’s beautiful work on her website:

Photo: Our great White River National Forest, Aspen , American lake


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