National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore was a big influence on me, not so much in his style or subject matter but the simple fact he was from Nebraska. Not many people associated with Nebraska go on to any sort of fame in their field- Matthew Sweet, Warren Buffet, Connor Oberst, Johnny Carson being some of the exceptions- still a pretty short list. I caught Sartore speaking at a local college back in 2000 and he made a big impression on me. He was a genuine guy who did great work and was recognized for it, and made a living at it, which in general terms is where I want to find myself as a photographer. At Close Range is a NG documentary on the man and his work.
Sartore never shys away from peeling back the curtain from what others may think is a glamorous, adventurous job. He’s contracted many diseases including one that will stay with him for the rest of his life. His family openly weep when he leaves on a trip, then make big decisions while he’s off in the field, such as buying a house. These kind of sacrifices are what’s necessary to go where Sartore needs to go, do what he has to do to get the great images that can uplift communities and preserve nature preserves from devastation.
At Close Range is currently showing on Netflix.