Ami Vitale: Photojournalism With a Big Heart

Social media has consistently made me feel a bit like a fish out of water. I would flip and flap about, searching for something breathable amidst an immense, digitized sea of collective consciousness. This has led me to have a rather negative view of social media as a whole. However, thanks to assignments where I am forced to immerse myself and discover people like Ami Vitale, who contribute breathable air instead of just adding to the smog, I am breathing a little easier.

For some reason I was instantly taken with Vitale once I discovered her on Twitter. It may be her cover photo featuring her head flanked by two Alpacas. It could be the amazing photos of far-off locations I may never go and fascinating people I will never meet. It could be that her work seems to come from the heart, with a lot of care for her subjects. Personally, I think it is because her Twitter background and links are all green instead of Twitter-bird blue and I like a rebel.

Vitale posts a lot of her photos on Instagram, Twitter and her own website. I follow the Twitter feed because that is what I am used to for now, and like a grandma in an Apple store, it is important not to get overwhelmed.

Vitale’s photos have been exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic, Newsweek and Time. She also speaks at conferences and is happy to hold seminars on photojournalism.

All of her photos have a story to tell. Like this Valentines Day post she made depicting an orphaned Rhinoceros and its caregiver.

Ami Vitale/ Instagram
Ami Vitale/ Instagram

Vitale also seems to love interacting with her followers. Many of her pictures are accompanied by long threads of posts from her followers and Vitale’s responses. It is nice to see someone so open and happy to communicate with the masses on social media.

I am especially fascinated by this collaborative piece that appeared in the blog, The Week, about an upcoming PBS show about rediscovering the wildest places on earth.

Ami Vitale via The Week
Ami Vitale via The Week                                        “The panda’s celebrity status rubs off on the forest. People are more likely to protect a “Panda forest,” and that has a knock-on effect for the less charismatic animals that do provide vital services. It also affects us. Without the forest, millions of people downstream would be prone to devastating flooding. Saving the panda is effectively saving us.”

Unlike many of the people I have been cattle prodded into following on Twitter, I intend to keep up with Vitale and her work. It is an inspiring breath of fresh air in the social media maelstrom, that I really appreciate stumbling across.

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