Conservationist for wildlife as well as National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale has traveled to more than 100 nations and witnessed not just conflict and violence but also the utter beauty of nature as well as the unending humanity of our spirit. With more than 1.2 million people following her on Instagram her platform, she makes use of her platform to encourage people to conserve the environment and to see their connection to each other and to the environment around them.

Ami participated with Photographers Without Borders (PWB) the organization’s founder Danielle Da Silva as part of PWB’s ongoing “Storytelling for Change” webinar series. Below are edited extracts from the conversation, which provide Ami’s perspective on how to stay sane during COVID-19, preserving the environment, identifying your goals and embracing gratitude.

Danielle Da Silva:How do you stay in good health and well-being? What is your daily routine? affected by COVID-19, as well as everything else that’s going on?

Ami Vitale The first time in a long time that I’ve had so many hours at home. For the past two years, I’ve had at most 3 weeks in my home. I was always traveling. The best part is, each night, I’ve had a dream of flying planes, missing taxis or a connection that isn’t. However, last night I experienced my very first vivid dream concerning an actual Zoom phone call.

I’m really trying to take advantage of this time to reconsider my impact on the world and my future in a manner that doesn’t require as much traveling. The main thing I’ve learned is that nature is giving us a powerful message. Instead of encasing our minds around the uncertainty of being in the unknown, it’s an excellent opportunity for all of us to take a fresh look at ourselves, imagine, and believe that we can live the life that we desire to lead. It’s a wonderful time to relax.

Ami Vitale: It is my goal to raise people whenever I can. Negative thoughts can be harmful and infectious. They can bring everyone down. We can help each other by our the way we think and view things. I’ve had the opportunity to look at things from numerous perspectives and take a look at the world from a variety of perspectives.

Sometimes the meaning or story is right in front of you. Your camera is to your face, causing the illusion of a tunnel view. We all become enthralled with the thing that is that is in front of us and then we forget that we need to change our perspective, pull the camera back, and look at it from a different angle and notice that the entire world is.

Da SilvaOf each of the wisdom you’ve received through your travels across more than 100 countries, what’s the most profound lesson you’re able to impart?

Ami Vitale This is a difficult time, and it’s OK to acknowledge the fact that it’s difficult. I’ve had times when I’m depressed, and I don’t know if I’m ready to leave the bed. One way to get out of this was to reflect on my list of people that I am thankful for and then write thank-you messages to them. After a couple of hours, I started to realize the situation wasn’t that bad.

A good night’s rest aids. I’ve experienced sleep issues throughout the outbreak. However, sleep is as beneficial as getting outdoors in the natural world. I read that Iceland had an initiative to hug trees, which made me think, “Yes, do it! It’s a must to do it.” In case you’re struggling with loneliness, to the tree. Remember that nothing lasts forever in this world. This awful feeling will fade, and helping others or animals makes everything seem better. Therefore, go out and explore your surroundings. Photography can be a wonderful escape for everyone.

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