‘General Hospital’ First Look: Nat Geo Photographer Joel Sartore Stops by the Jerome Gallery (PHOTOS)

General Hospital and National Geographic
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Trina Robinson (Sydney Mikayla) isn’t just producing any show at the Jerome Gallery. General Hospital and National Geographic have teamed up to create some synergy featuring the work of Nat Geo contributor Joel Sartore. The real-life environmental photographer will appear on the ABC soap as himself in an upcoming episode.

On the show, Sartore will display some of his photos featuring wildlife and promote Photo Ark, a multi-year effort to document every species living in zoos and sanctuaries. Photo Ark’s goal is to inspire action through education and help save wildlife. TV Insider chatted with Sartore about his visit to Port Charles.

How did you and your real-life photography appearing on General Hospital come about?

Joel Sartore: Frank Valentini [executive producer of GH] really liked the photos I’d taken. He’s ordered a number of prints over the years. A few months ago, he offered to help get the word out there about Photo Ark. This all led to him offering a chance to showcase the work [I’ve shot] on General Hospital in the Jerome Gallery.

What does your guest spot on the show entail?

We’re doing an exhibition on the show with some giant prints. I was the guest of honor at the opening, and I tell the guests at the gallery what our goals are. It was really just a lovely experience and, hopefully, a chance to reach a new audience. There are already quite a few people who know about it, but it may be new to GH viewers.

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What did you think of your experience of being on the show?

I was amazed at what goes into putting together a soap opera. A big-budget film does six or seven pages a day. We did 125 pages, I believe. You really see what hardworking actors and actresses there are at this show. The actors were there before we got there and there after we left. I had maybe 15 lines. It was one thing to have to learn them, but to say them? I am pretty good about winging it and talking about what I know.

Did you have input into what you say on the show?

Frank was very good to me. I asked him, “What if I don’t get the exact words down?’ He said, “Just so what’s coming out makes sense, we’ll be fine.” The writers had done their homework. I was in maybe five or six scenes total. My wife [Kathy] was an extra in the background. She helps me edit and is a big fan of General Hospital–and I am now, too! It was a real treat for both of us. We had such a nice day.

How was it working with Maura West (Ava), Sydney, and the rest of the cast?

Fantastic. Everyone there was extremely supportive. They applauded when I shot my last scene, and they all helped me with the lines. They made me feel better. Sydney helped record a PSA for us.

What would you like people to learn from your appearance on the show?

That we can all make a difference in saving the earth. It all starts in our own backyards.

What did you think about the exhibit of your work on the show?

Amazing. You usually don’t see your work that big because of the cost. These were unframed photographic prints. They were massive. We’ll be unveiling a new species on the show. That image was printed 72 x 48 — that’s huge. I was really blown away by the fact that they took the time to make the prints so big and beautiful.

Frank really goes all out. He sees everything. He’s very calm on the outside but he never misses anything. He’s doing three or four things at once. I don’t know how he does it. I’ve never met anyone like him, and I told him that. He’s all business and he runs a tight ship but he also praises people when he sees something he likes.

Ava didn’t draw you into her web of intrigue?

[Laughs] Ava Jerome was super sweet.

Scroll down for a first look at the episode and head over here for more information on Sartore’s work and Photo Ark.

General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC, Check local listings