Michael O. Snyder is a photographer and filmmaker who uses his combined knowledge of visual storytelling and conservation to create narratives that drive social impact. At its core, his work is an exploration of the dynamic, two-way relationship between environmental change and cultural change. Michael is a Portrait of Humanity Award Winner, a Climate Journalism Fellow at the Bertha Foundation, a Blue Earth Alliance Photographer, a Society of Environmental Journalists Member, a National Geographic Contributor, a member of New Day Films, a participant in the prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop, and a Resident Artist at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. 


Michael often lectures on visual storytelling and its potential as a tool for impact.  He has been an observer delegate and featured speaker at the United Nations Climate Conference and has lectured and presented work at universities such as Yale, Columbia, Stanford, the Alfred Wegener Institute, and the University of Edinburgh.   

His photojournalism work has been featured by outlets such as National Geographic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, VOX, BBC, PBS News Hour, CNN, Orion, Science, and NPR.  His work has been awarded by bodies such as The Wellcome Prize, Magnum Photos, The Lucie Foundation, and The British Journal of Photography. His images have been galleried around the world, including shows at Photoville, NYC Climate Week, the Indian Photo Festival, The Capa Center, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Sent Into Space, and many more.

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.

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.  He currently resides in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his wife and two children.  He holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a BSc from Dickinson College. 

Artist Statement:

I grew up 12 acres of woodland in rural Appalachia.  It was a place that was at once beautiful and also disfigured by a century of industrial extraction.  These early experiences set off a love affair with the wildness of our planet, and a sense of responsibility to protect these sacred and essential places from destruction.  I studied to be an environmental scientist, but today I work as a visual storyteller because I believe in the power of narratives to shift what it means to live well on this planet without destroying it. 

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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)

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

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

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

  • Photographic Museum of Humanity, Featured Submission (2021)

  • LensCulture Portraiture Awards, Editor's Pick (2021, 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) 

  • 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, Editor's Pick  (2016)

Fellowships & Grants:

  • 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 Grant Collaborator 

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

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

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

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

  • 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:

  • Saville Gallery, The Mountain Traditions Project (2021)
  • 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


  • Portrait of Humanity Vol. 2, HoxtonMini Press

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

Podcasts & Audio Journalism:

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

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

Editor, Jury & Moderator Roles

  • ZEKE Magazine, Sustainability Issue, Guest Editor (Coming 2022)

  • ZEKE Award for Systemic Change, Competition Juror (2022)

  • Doc Maters Lecture Series, Sustainability Episode, Moderator (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 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

  • 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:

  • 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)

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

  • DC Environmental Film Festival, Featured Speaker (2021 & 2020)

  • 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)

  • 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)

Memberships & Associations

  • Society of Environmental Journalists, Member

  • Resident Artist and Renting Member, McGuffey Art Center

  • New Day Films, Member

  • Fearless Photographers Member

  • All Things Living Environmental Film Festival - Juror

  • 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)

  • 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, Condé Nast Traveler, Virginia Quarterly Review, Float Magazine, Phases Magazine, The Glasgow Herald, The Skinny UK, SkyNews, Social Documentary Network, The Narwal, Inside Appalachia, High Country News Magazine, Yale SAGE Magazine, Terrain Magazine, The Daily Mail, IFLScience, Street Photography Magazine, The Conversation, Dodho Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, LensScratch, Beautiful Decay Magazine, Snap Magazine, Streetlight Magazine, Don't Take Pictures Magazine, Nature - Communications Biology, The Wild Magazine, Political Science & Politics Magazine, Huffington Post, Backbone Mountain Review, Allegany Magazine