With so many endangered animals in the world, one man is using his trade to educate people and make an impact.
Joel explained to NPR, "The goal of this project is to get people to look these things in the eye before they go extinct. Not everything I shoot is rare, but a lot is." He estimates that there are 6,000 animal species in zoos and aquarium and he has already photographed almost one third of them.
This month, Joel is visiting several zoos with the hope that he can add at least 25 more species to his project. He explained on his National Geographic blog that photographing animals in front of black or white backgrounds is important to his project. He writes, "This black-and-white background technique gives all species equal weight and importance."
Joel also sees the human connection to endangered species. He writes, "It would be a crime to doom even one of these species to extinction. It may also threaten our very existence. It is folly to think that we can doom everything else to extinction but that we'll be just fine."
Although Joel's work has been titled the "Biodiversity Project," he is looking for help to rename it. According to his blog, the current title "is a mouthful, and he's looking for a catchier name that better conveys what he's trying to do."
Check out National Geographic's Field Test blog to help Joel think of a new name for his project. For more information about the Biodiversity Project and to see more of Joel's photos, visit his website.
Below, check out photos from Joel's project. Scroll down for video.
Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) at the Houston Zoo.
West Usambara two-horned chameleon (Kinyongia multituberculata) at the Houston Zoo
A Prevost's squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii) named 'Walnut' at the Houston Zoo.
A giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) at the Sunset Zoo.
Damaraland mole rat at the Houston Zoo. This species is one of only two eusocial mammals, with members of colonies all serving specific roles, much like bees.
Blue spiny lizard (Sceloporus serrifer) at the Houston Zoo.