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Michael O. Snyder (b. 1981) is a photographer and filmmaker documenting the climate crisis and related social-environmental issues. In addition to creating visual stories, he is deeply interested in how our narratives can help drive social impact.


His work has been featured by outlets such as National Geographic, The Guardian, and The Washington Post. He's been honored by awards such as the Portrait of Humanity Award (Winner), the Decade of Change Award (Winner), The Welcome Prize for Photography (Shortlist), the LensCulture Portrait Awards (Finalist), and the Visualizing Climate Change Award (Winner). Snyder is a Pulitzer Grantee, a Climate Journalism Fellow at the Bertha Foundation, a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and an Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at Syracuse University's Newhouse School in New York. 

Through his production company, Interdependent Pictures, he has directed films in the Arctic, the Amazon, the Himalaya, and East Africa. His films have been selected to over 60 festivals, have taken home numerous awards, have been sponsored by companies such as Sony and GoPro, and have been distributed by outlets such as New Day Films and Films for Change. Michael often lectures on visual storytelling and its potential as a tool for social impact. He has been a featured speaker at the United Nations Climate Conference and has lectured at universities such as Yale, Columbia, and the Alfred Wegener Institute. In 2022, the University of Edinburgh named him one of its most “influential alumni making a significant contribution to climate science and justice.”

An adventurer at heart, Michael has hiked the Appalachian and John Muir Trails, cycled across Europe, and ridden trains through Siberia. Originally from a small town in Appalachia, Snyder has lived around the world including long-term stints in Scotland, Japan, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Michael holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and a BSc from Dickinson College, Pennsylvania.

Artist Statement:

I grew up on twelve acres of reclaimed mining land in rural Appalachia, a young witness to the innumerable scars that industrial extraction can imprint on both lives and landscapes. Consequently, I trained to be an environmental scientist, a career that I believed could help bind the wounds of my home and contribute to resolving the core crisis of our times: global climate change. However, my graduate research into social models of behavior change lead me to a realization that has permanently altered my working life: the real power to drive durable cultural change lies not within the purely descriptive faculties of science, but in crafting informed narratives that directly challenge dominant paradigms and provide the requisite tools, mechanisms, and visions to transform it. In short, reason alone does not a revolution make. We have to learn to tell a better story.

Today I work as a multi-disciplinary visual storyteller because I believe in the power of narratives to shift what it means to live well on this planet without destroying it.  I am driven to explore the relationship between environment and culture and how we can produce visual stories that lead to durable social change.  


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  • MSc, Environmental Sustainability, Uni. of Edinburgh, Scotland (2008)

  • BSc, Geology, Dickinson College, Pennsylvania (2003)

Workshops, Reviews, & Residencies Attended:

  • Eddie Adams Workshop (2021)

  • CENTER, Review Santa Fe (2021)

  • CENTER, Project Lab Mentorship Program (2021)

  • Banff Centre for the Arts, Mountain Photo Residency (2016)

Photography Awards:

  • Portrait of Humanity Award, Winner (2020)

    • Magnum Photos & British Journal of Photography (largest annual award)

  • The Wellcome Prize for Photography, Shortlist (2021)

  • Decade of Change Award, Winner, British Journal of Photography (2021)

  • ZEKE Award for Doc Photography, Honorable Mention (2023)

  • LensCulture Portrait Awards, Series Finalist (2023)

  • Neutral Density Awards, Series Honorable Mention (2023)

  • Visualizing Climate Change Award, Winner, Climate Visuals and TED Countdown (2021)

  • The Lucie Foundation, The Guardian Project Award, Finalist (2021)

  • International Photography Awards (IPA), Editorial/Environmental, Honorable Mention (2021)

  • UNICEF Photo of the Year, Nominee (2021)

  • Photographic Museum of Humanity, Featured Submission (2021)

  • Monovisions Awards, Honorable Mention (2020)

  • Most Fascinating People, Allegany Magazine (2021)

  • LensCulture Portraiture Awards, Editors' Pick (2023)

  • LensCulture Portraiture Awards, Editors' Pick (2021)

  • LensCulture Portraiture Awards, Editors' Pick (2019)

  • International Color Awards, Nominee (2020)

  • PX3, Prix De La Photographie, Honorable Mention (2020)

  • Moscow International Foto Awards, Honorable Mention (2020)

  • Julia Margaret Cameron Award, Honorable Mention (2020)

  • The Wall Gallery (Venice) Photography Awards, Photographer of the Day (2020)

  • Booooooom! Annual Print Swap (2020) 

  • Feature Shoot, The Print Swap (2021)

  • Fearless Photography Award, Finalist (2019)

  • Imagely Award, Honorable Mention (2019, 2017)

  • Black and White Zebra Awards, Tzipac Foundation, 4-Time Finalist (2019)

  • LensCulture Street Photography Awards, Editors' Pick (2016)

Fellowships, Scholarships & Grants:

  • Pulitzer Center, Gender Equity Reporting Grant

  • Climate Challenge Fellow, The Bertha Foundation 

  • Blue Earth Alliance Photographer

  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, The University of Edinburgh

  • National Geographic Young Explorer Grant - Collaborator

  • National Science Foundation Research, Steering Committee

  • Pulitzer Reporting Grant (Into the Dark)

  • Community Trust Fund, Major Grant Recipient

  • Scottish Climate Challenge Fund, Grant Recipient

  • Washington, D.C., Our City Festival, Artist Grant Recipient

  • Maryland Humanities Council, Major Grant Recipient

  • Allegany Arts Council, Placemaking Grant Recipient

  • Virginia Humanities Council, Grant Recipient

  • Scottish Green Awards, Best Green PR Campaign, Runner- Up

Joint Photography Exhibitions:​​​

  • NYC Climate Week, The Nest Summit, Decade of Change (2021)

  • Museum of Climate Change Hong Kong, Decade of Change (2021)

  • The 6th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography, The Photo Gala Awards, Barcelona, (2021)

  • Capa Center, Budhapest, Portrait of Humanity (2020)

  • Photoville, New York City, Portrait of Humanity (2020)

  • Photoville, New York City, ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography (2023)

  • Photoville, New York City, Blue Earth Alliance (2018)

  • PhEST Photography Festival, Monopoli, Italy, LensCulture Portrait Awards Winners Show (2023)

  • Feature Shoot Group Print Swap Exhibition, ClampArt NYC (2022)

  • Images of Research Exhibition, Strathclyde University (2022)

  • Indian Photo Festival, Portrait of Humanity (2020)

  • Sent Into Space (the first photo exhibition in space), Portrait of Humanity (2020)

  • UN Climate Conference (COP26), Glasgow, Images of Innovation (2021)

  • ZEKE Award for Systemic Change Winners Show (editor) – Griffin Museum of Photography (2023)

  • TED Climate Countdown, Visualizing Climate Change, UN Climate Conference (COP26), Glasgow (2021)

  • UN Climate Conference (COP26), 'Climate Change is a Health Crisis', The Wellcome Prize for Photography (2021)

  • Snapshot:  Climate, UNC Chapel Hill Center for the Study of the American South (2023)

  • Snapshot:  Climate, Pitt Community College (2023)

  • Snapshot:  Climate, College of Albemarle (2024)

  • The Lucie Foundation, Print Sale Gallery (2021 -)

  • The Center for Fine Art Photography, This Changing Planet (2020)

  • Praxis Gallery, MN, Abandoned Spaces (2020)

  • McGuffey Arts Center, Charlottesville, VA, In the Current (2020)

  • The Wall Gallery, Venice, The Roof Runner (2020)

  • Bertha House, Cape Town, South Africa, The Coming Coast (2023)

  • Feature Shoot, The Print Swap (2020, 2021)

  • Griffin Museum of Photography, Portraits of a Changing Planet (2019)

  • United Nations International Maritime Organization, London, The Arctic, On Our Watch (2019)

  • National Geographic, MountainFilm Young Explorer Gallery (2017)
  • University of Virginia, We The People (2017)

  • Art Takes Miami (2014)

  • Allegany National Photography Context (Award Finalist) (2017 & 2003)

Solo Photography Exhibitions:

  • ProCamera USA, The Queens of Queen City (2023)
  • Saville Gallery, The Queens of Queen City (2023)
  • McGuffey Art Center, The Mountain Traditions Project (2022)
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Eroding Edges & The Coming Coast (2022)
  • Saville Gallery, The Mountain Traditions Project (2021)
  • Piedmont Virginia Community College, The Mountain Traditions Project (2022)
  • Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (2017)
  • Patagonia Vancouver, Against the Current (2017)
  • Josephine Butler Parks Center, Breathing Life (2014)

Professional Sponsorships:

  • Sony (film, Into the Dark)

  • GoPro (film, Into the Dark)

  • Outex, Professional Community Gear Ambassador

  • CENTER Santa Fe - Brand Ambassador


  • Portrait of Humanity Vol. 2, Featured Artist, HoxtonMini Press (2020)

  • Photography as Activism 2nd Edition, Featured Artist, Focal Press (2022)

  • The Backbone Mountain Review (cover and interior art), 2015

Podcasts & Audio Journalism:

  • The Mountain Traditions Podcast, Creator and Producer (2021)

    • Awarded Apple's 'Top 50 in Travel & Culture (May 2021)

  • Inside Appalachia, WV Public Radio and NPR (contributing producer)

  • Art Heals All Wounds Podcast, Featured Artist (May 2022)

  • Documentary Storytelling Podcast, Chris King (April 2023)

Editor, Juror & Moderator Roles

  • Lenscratch Magazine, Editor, Environmental stories

  • ZEKE Magazine, Guest Editor, Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change Issue (2022)

  • ZEKE Award for Systemic Change, Juror (2022)

  • Our Changing Climate, Curator, PVCC (2022)

  • Doc Maters Lecture Series, Climate Episode, Moderator (2021)

  • All Things Living Environmental Film Festival - Juror (2021)

Non-Profit Clients & Partners:

  • National Geographic

  • Raincoast Conservation Foundation

  • Defenders of Wildlife

  • The Pachamama Alliance


  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage

  • Glasgow Science Centre

  • The Post Carbon Institute

  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation

  • The Blue Earth Alliance

  • Yale University

  • Patagonia

  • The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

  • The Water School

  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network

  • The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts

  • Groundswell

  • The International Storytelling Center

  • The Arctic Institute

  • The Holistic Life Foundation

  • Frostburg State University

  • The Arctic University of Norway


  • USA FAA Certified UAS (Drone) Pilot

Films and Selected Awards:

Into the Dark - Director & Producer (2020) 

  • Winner - Best Editing, Columbia Film Festival

  • Winner - Best Environmental Short, Chesapeake Film Festival

  • Winner - Best Cinematography, Columbia Film Festival 

  • Winner - Audience Choice Award, ARFF Paris

  • Winner - Best Documentary, Honorable Mention, ARFF Int. FF

  • Nominated - Best Short Film, Innsbruck Film Festival 

  • Nominated - Best Short Documentary, Arctic Film Festival

  • Nominated - Best Short Documentary, Oslo Short Film Festival 

  • Official Selection - Tromsø International Film Festival

  • Official Selection - DC Environmental Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Frozen River Film Festival

  • Official Selection - San Francisco Independent Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Boreal Film Festival

  • Official Selection - All Things Living Film Festival

  • Top 5 Films at DC Environmental Film Festival (The Climate Reporter)

  • Distribution:  New Day Films

The Vision Within - Director (2015)

  • Winner - Best Environmental Film, Canada International Film Fest 

  • Winner - Best Environmental Film, World's Independent Film Fest 

  • Winner - Best Environmental Film (Sir Edmund Hillary Award), Mountain Film Festival

  • Winner - Best Documentary Feature, Blackbird Film Festival

  • Winner - Audience Choice Award, G2 Green Earth Film Festival 

  • Winner - Audience Choice Award, Wild and Green Shorts

  • Winner - Third Place Overall, Adventure Shorts Film Festival

  • Nominated - Best Director, Blackbird Film Festival

  • Nominated - Best Short Doc, Cayman International Film Festival 

  • Official Selection - Global Peace Film Festival

  • Official Selection - The Earth Day Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Los Angeles Cinefest 

  • Official Selection - Tassie Eco Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Matsalu Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Freedom Film Festival

  • Distribution:  PeaceWorks TV (Canada); Films for Change (Australia)

A Simpler Way - Director (2012)

  • Winner - Best Environmental Film, Colorado International Film Fest 

  • Winner - Best Documentary, Love Your Shorts Film Festival

  • Winner - Best Documentary, Queen City Film Festival 

  • Winner - Audience Impact Award, Docs Without Borders Film Fest 

  • Winner - Best Soundtrack - The Africa Film Festival

  • Nominated - Best Short Documentary & Best Cinematography - The Africa Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Earth Day Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Back to Nature Film Festival

  • Official Selection - Downstream Film Festivl

  • Official Selection - Justice Film Festival NYC 

  • Official Selection - Frozen River Film Festival 

  • Official Selection - Show Me Justice Film Festival 

  • Official Selection - Marda Loop Justice Film Festival

  • Distribution:  PeaceWorks TV (Canada); Films for Change (Australia)

Eroding Edges - Director & Producer (2017)

  • Official Selection - MountainFilm (2017)

  • Distribution:  Footage included in National Geographic's 'Migration and Adaptation: Stories of Human Hope'

Lectures, Speaking Events & Interviews:

  • United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), Presentation to Delegation (2021)

  • Managed Retreat Climate Conference, Earth Institute, Columbia University, NYC, Featured Speaker (2021)

  • Berliner Nachtung, Interdisciplinary Seminar Series on the Night, Berlin, Featured Lecturer (2021)

  • NOAA Climate Change Education Conference, Featured Presenter (2021)

  • Academy Art Museum, Maryland - Kittredge-Wilson Lecture (2022)

  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Public Lecture (2022)

  • B&H Event Space, Photography Video Series (2022)

  • New Mexico State University, Environmental Media Center, Guest Lecture, Telling Stories that Matter (2022)

  • Fountain Theatre, Las Cruces, NM, Into the Dark (2022)

  • Syracuse University, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Building a Career that Counts

  • Glasgow Science Center, Scotland, Curious About Science, Featured Speaker (2021)

  • Washington College, The Power of Visual Storytelling (2022)

  • Loyola University of Chicago, Into the Dark (2022)

  • Dickinson College, Earth Sciences Seminar Series, Guest Speaker (2023)

  • Arts University of Bournemouth, CRUX Photography Research Network:  Driving Impact with Photography, Featured Speaker (2022)

  • DC Environmental Film Festival, Featured Speaker and Panelist (2020, 2021, 2022)

  • CUNY Public Labs, Documenting Climate Change Speaker and Panelist (2022)

  • Frostburg State University, Keynote Address, Earth Week (2022, 2023)

  • Glasgow Herald, Filmmaker Interview (2021)

  • National Science Foundation, Migration in Harmony Conference, Scientific Storytelling, DC, Featured Lecturer, (2020)

  • National Environmental Research Council, Changing Arctic Ocean Annual Science Conference, Potsdam, Featured Lecturer (2020)

  • Tromsø International Film Festival, Featured Presenter (2020)

  • Global Peace Film Festival, Filmmaker Interview (2020)

  • Around Film Festival, Paris, Filmmaker Interview (2020)

  • Dickinson College, Featured Alumni Interview (2020)

  • The Outlook Magazine, Filmmaker Interview (2021)

  • The Tribune of India, Filmmaker Interview (2021)

  • Outex USA, Los Angeles, Ambassador Interview (2020)

  • Orion Magazine, Photographer Interview (2020)

  • Street Photography Magazine, Photographer Interview (2018)

  • Documentary Matters Lecture Series, Social Documentary Network, Boston: Stories from the Eroding Edge (2018)

  • Global Peace Film Festival, Orlando, Featured Speaker, Making Films that Matter; the Power of Positive Storytelling (2015)

  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, DC, Deploying Culture in Conflict Resolution (2014)

  • University of Edinburgh, Institute for Education, Guest Lecturer (2010)

  • University of Edinburgh, School of Biological Sciences, Guest Lecturer (2010)

  • University of Edinburgh, Centre for the Study of Environmental Change and Sustainability, Guest Lecturer (2010)

  • University of Edinburgh, School of Business, Guest Lecturer (2010)

  • Rotary National Assembly, UK, Featured Speaker (2008)

  • Renaissance School, Charlottesville, VA, Storytelling for Impact (2023)

  • Sienna School, Building a Personal Body of Work (2023)

  • North Central College, Into the Dark (2023)

  • Binghamton University, Into the Dark (2023)

Memberships & Associations

  • Society of Environmental Journalists, Member

  • Preserving Legacies Network, Media and Communications Director, National Geographic Society Funded

  • CRUX Photography Research Network, Arts University Bournemouth, UK

  • Resident Artist and Renting Member, McGuffey Art Center

  • Southern New Mexico Environmental Media Center, Advisory Board

  • New Day Films, Member

  • Migration in Harmony, Steering Committee (NSF Funded)

  • Fearless Photographers Member

  • Citizen Shale, Board of Directors

  • Piedmont Virginia Com. College, Digital Media Program Advisory Board

  • Transition Edinburgh South, Co-Founder and Vice Chair

Teaching and Training Positions:

  • Columbia University, Earth Institute - Visual Storytelling Training

  • Social Documentary Network, Faculty (Photography and Filmmaking courses)

  • British Journal of Photography - 1854 Academy Mentor

  • PhotoWorks DC, Documentary Photography Instructor

  • Allegany College of Maryland, Filmmaking and Social Issue Courses

  • Parkmont School DC, Filmmaking Instructor

Publications & Editorial Clients:

National Geographic, The Washington Post, The Guardian, VOX, BBC, CNN, Scientific American, Orion Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, PBS News Hour, Oceanographic Magazine, NPR, BuzzFeed News, Rolling Stone, ZEKE Magazine, Science Magazine, Roads & Kingdoms, Ain't-Bad Magazine, NEWSY, Condé Nast Traveler, Virginia Quarterly Review, Float Magazine, FeatureShoot, Phases Magazine, The Glasgow Herald, The Skinny UK, SkyNews, Social Documentary Network, The Narwal, Inside Appalachia, High Country News Magazine, Yale SAGE Magazine, Annabelle Magazine, Terrain Magazine, The Daily Mail, IFLScience, US National Climate Assessment, Street Photography Magazine, The Conversation, Dodho Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, LensScratch, Beautiful Decay Magazine, Snap Magazine, Southern Cultures Magazine, Streetlight Magazine, Don't Take Pictures Magazine, Nature - Communications Biology, The Wild Magazine, Political Science & Politics Magazine, The Conversation, Huffington Post, Backbone Mountain Review, Allegany Magazine

Gallery Representation & Permanent Collections:

  • Duke University, NC, USA

  • Josephine Butler Parks Center, Washington, DC

  • Frostburg State University, Maryland, USA

  • British Journal of Photography

  • The Lucie Foundation

  • NYC Climate Museum

  • University of Strathclyde, Scotland

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