Planet on the Brink
Documenting the climate crisis and global environmental change
Instructor: Michael O. Snyder
6:30 – 9:00 pm Eastern via Zoom
Eight Tuesdays beginning September 28, 2021
Course fee: $600
Limited to eleven students
Photo by Michael Snyder from “Family at the End of the World".
Planet on the Brink is a course for photographers who are passionate about documenting our changing planet during these unprecedented times. The course is designed for photographers who already have working knowledge of the fundamentals of photography and would like to deepen their practice of documentary photography as a tool for environmental storytelling.
The course will begin with the fundamentals of great storytelling: how to find and refine great narrative and conceptual stories that capture the viewers’ imaginations. Students will learn how to establish report with compelling characters and build intimate access to pressing stories. The class will explore some of the nuances of environmental journalism and use case studies of powerful projects from the past and today. The class will focus on the visual language of documentary storytelling: how to envision, set up, and capture the various kinds of images typically seen in documentary projects. Students will also learn how to interview, edit, sequence, and write captions and project narratives. The class will cover how to develop a strategy for identifying editors interested in environmental stories and writing a compelling pitch. Students will be expected to design, share, and build upon a body of work during the course.
The course follows a practical approach from the perspective of a seasoned working professional who holds a masters in environmental sustainability and has been working as a photojournalist for over 15 years. The course structure will provide a mix of lecture, demonstration, discussion, and critique.
Michael O. Snyder
Michael O. Snyder is a photojournalist and filmmaker who uses his combined knowledge of visual storytelling and conservation to create narratives that drive social change. He is a Climate Journalism Fellow at the Bertha Foundation, a Portrait of Humanity Award winner, a Decade of Change Award winner, a Blue Earth Alliance Photographer, a Society of Environmental Journalists Member, a National Geographic Contributor, and a Resident Artist at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. He holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a BSc from Dickinson College.
Through his production company, Interdependent Pictures, he has directed films in the Arctic, the Amazon, the Himalaya, and East Africa. His journalism work has been featured by outlets such as National Geographic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, VOX, BBC, PBS News Hour, Roads & Kingdoms, High Country News, Condé Nast, Orion, and NPR. His films have been selected to over 50 festivals and have taken home numerous awards.
Snyder grew up on 12 acres of woods in Appalachia and spent much of his early adulthood exploring the remote corners of this planet. These experiences set in motion an ongoing love affair with the wildness of this world and desire to re-connect people to it. Snyder’s projects are often built through partnerships with nonprofit organizations and harness the power of positive storytelling in order to shift the narrative about what it means to live well on this planet without destroying it.
An adventurer at heart, Mike 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.
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