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A lifelong Nebraskan, Joel Sartore brings a sense of humor and a midwestern work ethic to his National Geographic magazine assignments. Over 20 years of experience (more than 15 with the National Geographic Society) have allowed him to cover everything from the remote Amazon rain forest to beer-drinking, mountain-racing firefighters in the United Kingdom.
Born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Sartore graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He began his photojournalism career at the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle in 1984 and rose through the ranks to become its director of photography in 1990. He began freelancing for the National Geographic Society in 1991 and became a contract photographer in 1992.
Sartore's National Geographic magazine contributions include "The Ghost Bird" (December 2006), "Fall of the Wild: Alaska's North Slope" (May 2006), "Brazil's Wild Wet" (August 2005), "All Fired Up: Tapping the Rockies" (July 2005), "The Driest Place on Earth" (August 2003), and many others.
Sartore's work has won acclaim at several photography contests. His first award was in 1986, when he was named National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Photographer of the Year for Region Seven. He went on to win a sweepstakes award for photography from Inland Daily Press Association in 1987. He has had a series of single awards from the Pictures of the Year (POY) competition and received an Award of Excellence in the Magazine Photographer of the Year category at the 1992 POY competition.
Sartore's work has also appeared in Audubon, Life, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Time, and numerous book projects including the Day in the Life series. His photos have appeared on several national broadcasts, including National Geographic's Explorer, CBS This Morning, NPR's Weekend Edition, and an hour-long PBS documentary, At Close Range.