Ninety Female Photographers Join Together To Celebrate Jane Goodall’s 90th Birthday

In her early days at Gombe, Dr. Jane Goodall spent many hours sitting on a high peak with binoculars or a telescope, searching the forest below for chimpanzees.

Jane Gooddall, Self Portrait.

© Ami Vitale. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

Jane Goodall is an icon in the worlds of environmentalism and art. Originally an anthropologist and primatologist, in 1960, Goodall studied chimpanzees with the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, documenting her process with a camera. Her research was groundbreaking in that it challenged preconceived notions about animal behavior; and her role as a female anthropologist in a male-dominated space was equally radical. Known for giving her subjects names, rather than numbers, as other anthropologists had always done, Goodall’s work was humanizing, giving us a more thorough understanding of the animals’ routines, and their inner worlds. Her photographs did the same thing, offering viewers a look into the lives of chimpanzees, and her own personal experience living with, and studying the animals.

Following her time in Gombe, Goodall continued to dedicate her life to chimpanzees, opening the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977. The Institute, which continues to fund and support Gombe research, is focused on conservation and development. And Goodall’s work has continued to inspire a generation of women artists and scientists.

One of the world’s most endangered animals, the two-year-old Hua Yan was released into the wild after being born in captivity at the Wolong Nature Reserve managed by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province, China.
Ami Vitale, Back to the Wild.
© Ami Vitale. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

To celebrate Goodall’s 90th birthday, the Institute has partnered with non-profit Vital Impacts on a print sale, The Nature of Hope: 90 Years of Jane Goodall’s Impact, showcasing work by 90 female photographers who are breaking new ground in their field, inspired by the work of Dr. Goodall. Beginning April 1, Vital Impacts will host a 90-day fine-art photography sale, with proceeds directly benefiting the Jane Goodall Institute’s global chapter, which furthers Goodall’s vision of science-based, community-led conservation and youth empowerment.

“Jane Goodall did more than just redefine our understanding of the relationship between humans and animals,” said Ami Vitale, founder of Vital Impacts. “She shattered barriers and opened doors for women everywhere.” 

Fur seals off the coast of Montague Island in Australia.
Krystle Wright, Salty Sea Dogs.
© Krystle Wright. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

The sale, meant to “honor the impact this one woman had on the world and for all of us,” said Vitale, “is to help conservation and the planet, to support photographers so they can continue to produce the work that matters, and to make the world a more equitable place for those pursuing photography and making their visions heard.”

“Photography,” she continued, “is an incredible tool for capturing both the beauty and fragility of our natural world. It has the power to bring distant landscapes and endangered species into our everyday lives, fostering empathy and understanding. Photos and stories that showcase successful solutions give people hope, and in the face of environmental challenges, hope can inspire action.”

Inuit hunters in North West Greenland still travel by dog sleds in winter. From the series Piniartoq, a collaboration with polar scientist Dr. Kristin Laidre and science writer Susan McGrath.
Tiina Itkonen, Qimmit, Savissivik, North West Greenland, 2018.
© Tiina Itkonen. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

Vital Impact, a women-led non-profit, “utilizes art and storytelling to bolster community-based conservation and support visual journalists covering innovative, solution based environmental stories.” The Nature of Hope, which features work by 90 influential female photographers from across the globe, including Tamara Dean, Beth Moon, National Geographic’s Beverly Joubert, and Vital Impacts’ Ami Vitale, among others, highlights our relationship to the natural world, showcasing endangered and extinct animals and breathtaking landscapes, along with a photo by Jane Goodall herself. “I was really excited to see that the photo of me looking out at the valley at Gombe with my trusty lightweight telescope was chosen,” she said. “It was taken in, I think, 1962. I was on my own, very high up in the hills, and I thought, ‘What a great photo this would make.’” 

The collaboration speaks to the power of art when it comes to environmental impact—an ethos that inspired The Nature of Hope collaboration. “I had met [Jane] several times, so we reached out and asked to partner in this,” said Vitale, of the project’s origins. “Jane responded personally and was such an incredible support to us in the early days. She understood immediately the power of art and stories—that they are catalysts for change, encouraging a powerful reimagining of our relationship with nature and each other.” 

Polar bears nestling on the Hudson Bay, Churchill, in northern Manitoba.
Daisy Gilardini, The Hug.
© Daisy Gilardini. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

It’s that mission—using art to raise social consciousness—that drives Vital Impacts; a mission inspired by Goodall’s trailblazing work over the last nine decades. “When we began Vital Impacts, our mission was to bring together the most compelling environmental artists who have come together to rally around a cause—inspiring the next generation of environmental stewardship,” Vitale said. “We know that in every crisis, hope can always be found. Jane Goodall epitomizes hope and action. She shows us that each individual effort, no matter how small, contributes to a collective force for positive change.” 

And after 90 years, Goodall’s impact is still growing. “[It] extends far beyond the realms of science and conservation,” said Vitale. “She has ignited a global movement of compassion, advocacy, and stewardship for our planet and all the critters we share it with. Jane’s legacy epitomizes breaking barriers, nurturing empathy, and forging profound connections with nature; her spirit continues to inspire all of us who have been touched by her words.”  

The first known sighting of this Spirit bear within the Great Bear Rainforest.
Michelle Valberg, Spirit Bear Barney.
© Michelle Valberg. Courtesy Vital Impacts.

The Nature of Hope: 90 Years of Jane Goodall’s Impact is on sale now through May 31, 2024. Purchase prints here.