Travel photography is a broad term. It's a field that requires one to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. It can encompass portrait, architectural, landscape, food and street photography, often all within the space of a few hours. It's a field that requires flexibility, patience and — above all else — a curiousity about the world around you.
I've been shooting travel professionally since the early 1990s. It's hard to pin down an exact date, because I've had cameras in my hands practically since I could walk, but it was when I was working as an art director/photo buyer for a state travel and tourism department that I became aware that I could combine photography and travel and maybe actually make a living at it. In 1997 I made my break from being gainfully employed and became a full-time freelancer.
My work has appeared in National Geographic publications, Travel+Leisure, Moon Handbooks, Rough Guides, Away.com/Orbitz, Tamron publications, USA Today, Forbes.com, CNBC.com, Meredith books, AAA publications, Midwest Living, Kansas! Magazine and the Kansas Getaway Guide, Michigan Travel Ideas, and many other books, calendars, magazines and online resources.
Above: me, sweating profusely somewhere in Fiji; Self portrait at the temple of horus the avenger in Edfu, Egypt; on location with some of the Photodudes — a collection of local photographer friends (shown here are Bruce Snell, Ferry Keizer and Doug Stremel)
1981–1985: Worked in the historic preservation field as a researcher and photographer.
1985: BFA in Visual Communications from the University of Kansas with additional emphasis in Art History.
1986: Received certificate in offset printing, Kaw Area VoTech.
1985–1997: Graphic Designer and Art Director for various advertising and marketing agencies with emphasis on travel and tourism accounts.
1997–present: Full-time, freelance photographer and graphic designer with Shade of the Cottonwood, a creative services company that I have co-owned with my wife, Sally (a writer and videographer), since 1994.
top row: leading a session for the society of american travel writers in Bangkok, Thailand; roaming the streets with fellow photographers in Aswan, Egypt
Taught "Photography and the Computer" and oversaw Senior Projects at Washburn University in the late 1990s. Since then, have delivered many presentations and professional development sessions on travel photography and post-processing throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
2002: Joined the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) as a photographer member.
2008: Photographer of the Year, SATW Central States Chapter 2008: Bronze Award in Single Subject Portfolio, SATW Bill Muster Photo Competition along with several other single category awards in the years since.
2009–2011: Served on the SATW Board of Directors as Freelance Council Chair. Currently hold the position of Immediate Past FLC Chair and serve on the Photographers' Committee and the Marketing Committee.
2011: Member of the Professional Development Committee for SATW's New Zealand Convention in November. Also assisted with the North Island New Zealand Photo Shootout and moderated a panel discussion during the SATW Convention.
2013: SATW Central States Chapter Second Vice Chair and Co-Chair of the Pre- and Post-Tour Committee for the 2014 SATW Annual Convention to be held in Iceland. SATW Central States Chapter 2013 Photographer of the Year and a Silver Award winner in the Single Subject Portfolio category of the 2013 SATW Bill Muster Photo Competition.
2014: Named one of 13 initial Image Masters by Tamron, manufacturer of a wide range of optical products, including interchangeable lenses for SLR cameras. Rejoined the SATW Board of Directors as Active-at-Large.
2016: Named Chair of the SATW Photographers Sub-Council and received Presidents Bowl award for acting as Co-Chair of the SATW Wenzhou, China Convention Committee.
self portrait shot In Mexico at the Romeria de Zapopan with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends gathered in the background. Okay... maybe they hadn't come to see me...
MICHAEL C SNELL PHOTOGRAPHY IS A DIVISION OF SHADE OF THE COTTONWOOD, L.L.C.
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below: fogged up at the top of Sandia Peak in New Mexico; stuck in the endless elevator in Dubai, traveling through thailand by bus with author tom griffith
Bottom row: reflected in something shiny in Lucerne, Switzerland; river rafting, Jamaica-style with photographer milton fullman