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Ted Talk meets Bill Nye at Nat Geo Live

Not a single seat in all of Roy Thomson Hall is empty. Ami Vitale enters the stage and is greeted with an audience roar normally reserved for rockstars.

You might not recognize the name, or even the face, but you probably recognize at least one of the many internationally acclaimed photographs that she has taken.

She is in Toronto as a part of National Geographic’s Series “Nat Geo Live” which features presentations from the world’s leading explorers, scientists, and photographers.

But is a rare sight to see her in North America at all. Her work has taken her to over 90 different countries.

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Ami Vitale Photography.

There are many accolades to her name, but what is most impressive about Ami isn’t the places she has been or even the photos she takes (which is saying a lot, because each one is breathtaking).

The most impressive thing about her isn’t something that could fit on a resume or a LinkedIn profile. It is her philosophy, and how deeply she embodies it. The one theme that is glaring through her presentation and all of her work is her commitment to “living the story”.

She has lived in war zones, gotten malaria, and (my personal favourite) even worn a panda suit to assimilate into her environment.

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Ami Vitale Photography.

She gains trust wherever she goes. When she goes to communities she lives with local families and learns the local language and customs. She fully assimilates herself into the environment with a sort of cultural camouflage she creates everywhere she goes. She says “people always ask me what camera I shoot with, but it isn’t the best tool I have. The best tool I have is empathy.”

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Ami Vitale Photography.

Every single photo she takes tells a beautifully complex story that reaches far beyond the confines of a lens. During her presentation, she takes the time to tell the audience the name of the person or the animal photographed, what they did, and who they were. She doesn’t just go to these places to travel; she fully experiences them. 

My rating of the event:

Expense: 7/10

Tickets aren’t cheap and can range from 35 to 75 dollars, so it is worth buying them in advance so you don’t break bank.

Overall Experience: 9/10

You are given a copy of Nat Geo Travel when you walk in the doors, Roy Thomson Hall is stunning, the event is well-organized, and the content is a captivating mix of Ted Talk meets Bill Nye. You walk out feeling like a better person for going. But be warned, Nat Geo Live might make you feel like dropping everything and travelling the world.

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Ami Vitale Photography. 

Nat Geo Live will return to Roy Thomson Hall in November, with a new set of speakers just released. In the meantime, you can follow Ami’s work on Instagram @amivatle or the work of National Geographic @natgeo. Trust me, it will be the best part of your newsfeed.

Article by Danielle d’Entremont

For more from the author of this article, find her on Twitter @dentremontdani or at her website.

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photo for twitter, by Unsplash.

By Danielle d’Entremont