Conservationist for wildlife along with National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale has travelled across more than 100 countries and witnessed not just to conflict and violence but also the utter beauty of nature as well as the unending strength of humankind. With more than 1.2 million users on Instagram and more than 1.2 million followers on Instagram, she utilizes her platform to motivate people to conserve nature and appreciate their interconnectedness to one another and the surrounding world.

Ami was a guest of 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 panel discussion, in which you can hear Ami’s perspective on how to stay sane during COVID-19, preserve nature, find your passion, and embrace gratitude.

Danielle Da Silva: How do you stay well? How have your routines been affected by COVID-19 and everything else happening?

Ami Vitale: This is The first time in a long time that I’ve had so many hours at home. I’ve only spent three weeks at home for the past two years. I was always out and about. The best part is, every night, I’ve had a dream involving plane taxis that aren’t there or cannot connect. Last night, I experienced my very first vision concerning the possibility of a Zoom phone call.

Da Silva: What do you think your goal is?

Ami Vitale: It is my goal to raise people whenever I can. Negative thoughts can be harmful and infectious. They can bring everyone down. However, we can all help each other by thinking and viewing things. I’ve been blessed to have numerous perspectives and take a look at the world from different perspectives.

Sometimes, the meaning or story is right in front of you. Your camera is into your face, creating an unobstructed view. We are all obsessed with this one thing we see in front of us, and we don’t remember that we need to change our perspective, pull the camera off, look at it from a different angle, and observe a different world.

Ami Vitale, There’s no easy moment, and it’s OK to acknowledge that it’s not easy. There have been days when I’m stricken with despair, and I don’t know if I can get out of bed. The only way I’ve got myself out of it was to take a moment and reflect on the people I am grateful for and then write thank-you messages to them. After a few hours, I realized the situation wasn’t bad.

A good night’s rest can help. I’ve experienced sleep issues during the epidemic; however, sleep is beneficial, as is getting outside outdoors. I was watching Iceland’s tree-hugging campaign, which made me think, “Yes, do it! It’s a must to do it.” When you’re lonely or depressed, go to the tree and remember that nothing lasts forever. This awful feeling will fade, and helping fellow humans or animals makes everything feel more comfortable. Therefore, go out and discover and record your world. Photography can be a wonderful escape for everyone.

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