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Here’s the Wild Idea

Ami’s Wild Idea: To use photography to help people from around the world understand each other and connect. To raise awareness about cultures, communities, animals, and the environment.

Ami Vitale is a world-class photographer who has traveled the world on assignment for publications like National Geographic and the Associated Press. She got her start in journalism working as a war correspondent, and now focuses on stories, videos and photos about culture, wildlife and the environment. As a storyteller, she’s traveled to over 90 countries, lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and even donned a panda suit.

In our conversation, you can hear how compassionate Ami is. She gives everything she has to her work, which is one reason she’s won so many awards and gets asked to give lectures and teach around the globe. She also donates proceeds of her work to benefit charities. You’ll be inspired to go out and do good in the world after this one.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You are a photographer or just like taking pictures.
  • You want to help save the environment and animals.
  • You love storytelling.
  • You love animals, especially African elephants and pandas.
  • You want to conquer your fears.
  • You are looking for hope in the world.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:50 – How she got the wild idea to be a photographer.
  • 5:45 – How she convinced herself to quit a stable job to pursue the unknown.
  • 7:30 – The biggest risk she ever took.
  • 9:40 – Why you have to be able to visualize a story to pitch it.
  • 12:00 – What kind of story Ami is attracted to.
  • 15:00 – How Ami deals with fear.
  • 18:25 – One of Ami’s biggest failures.
  • 20:50 – What The Ripple Effect is.
  • 23:30 – Why there is still hope in the world.
  • 25:45 – Why there’s no tricks to photography.
  • 27:20 – Why she doesn’t have a favorite photo.
  • 28:00 – More on the elephant sanctuary in Kenya Ami works with.
  • 30:10 – What it’s like being so close to an elephant.
  • 32:00 – The lessons Ami has learned from her time with elephants.
  • 33:10 – How we are going to save the environment.
  • 35:35 – Why you should travel light.
  • 37:30 – Be brave and be vulnerable.
  • 40:20 – Who Ami would invite to her perfect party.
  • 41:00 – What draws Ami to Montana.
  • 42:10 – Why friends, yoga and the outdoors are so important.
  • 44:25 – Where you can gather strength and courage.

Inspired? Check out the newest camera gear at REI


Panda Love: The Secret Lives of Pandas by Ami Vitale

Connect with Ami



Ami’s article about Reteti Elephant Sanctuary
Ripple Effect Images
The Nature Conservancy
Conservation International
Wildlife Conservation Society

Awesome book Ami recommends gifting

The Moth Presents All These Wonders by Catherine Burns
Savannas of Our Birth by Robin S. Reid
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Poetry by Mary Oliver

Other Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcasts featuring photographers

Chris Burkard
Todd Glaser
Eric Wolfinger
Mike Coots
Devyn Bisson



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