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See the World
with Michael O. Snyder

Who: Michael O. Snyder

Where he’s from: Frostburg, MD.

Where he lives now: Washington, D.C.

What he does: Full-time photographer and documentary filmmaker.

What he’s currently working on:
On the documentary front, I am currently working on a project that I shot last year in the Indian Himalaya that explores the intersection of Buddhism, Feminism and the role of education in finding a meaningful life.  On the photography front, I am doing a lot of portraiture and working on a double exposure project that explores what the world will be like after humans are gone.

First thing he does in the morning:
I lie in bed and talk to my newborn son, Jacob.

His earliest memory:
I must have been about one year old and we were living in a row house in Philadelphia.  My parents had put me in my crib for the night and turned off the light in my room, but had left the door slightly ajar so that the light from the hallway was coming in just a little bit.  And I remember lying there, just looking at the contrast between the dark and the light as it fell across my crib, and becoming aware, somehow, that I existed; that I was now a being in this world.

One place on Earth he hasn’t been but wants to go to:
I’d really love to go to Patagonia…. The peaks, the remoteness and the brooding wildness… It really seems like a spectacular place to explore.

His favorite subject to photograph:
Humans beings, without a doubt.

One thing he enjoys the most about taking portraits:
Surviving in this world necessarily means having a mitigating layer between our inner and outer lives.  The goal of portraiture, I think, is to find a way to glimpse past that shell and towards something deeper, something truer about the subject.  And when we are able to see that in another person, what we are actually seeing is something about ourselves.  That experience of vulnerability and mutual discovery, even if it happens for a brief moment, is really beautiful.  That is what we are really looking for: intimacy.

One thing all his human subjects have in common:

I asked that question to a good friend of mine once and he said “we all have to put pants on the morning”.  And you know, I think that actually sums it up quite nicely.  Here we are, beings capable grasping the exquisite beauty of an apparently infinite universe, and at the same time we all have to wake up each day, put on pants and find something to eat… you know, get over ourselves and get on with it.  It’s the absurdity of the human experience that is the true unifier.

His biggest challenge with taking photos of strangers:
Opening up that vulnerable moment and doing it in a way that isn’t exploitative.

Michael’s WILD Wish:
I think that the challenge of our times is to find ways to live meaningful, spiritually fulfilling lives that do not come at the expense of other people and our planet.  My wildest wish is for my work, in any small way, to contribute to that awakening.

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see more of Michael’s work here and follow him on twitter, facebook & instagram

text by: Victor Rybkin

photography by: Michael O. Snyder

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