Michael Sewell

For over 25 years, Michael Sewell trekked to wild and remote corners of the earth searching for magical moments of natural light on the land and compelling wildlife imagery. He has photographed some of the worlds rarest animals, vibrant landscapes and native people beautifully portrayed in traditional lifestyles.

His work covers an immense geographic range, from the frigid blue ice packs north of the Arctic Circle, to red cracked earth deserts and steamy tropical rainforests in Central and South America. He’s a knowledgable naturalist in ecosystems from the Arctic to the tropics. It’s been said he has the eye of an artist and the heart of a hunter. He has done pioneering work on extreme magnified flash at night, animal calling and solar powered remote camera systems. His goal is to focus our attention on the destruction of the planet as well as the beauty around us worth preserving.

Michael’s work has been published by every major natural history magazine in the United States and in many publications overseas. Michael is semi retired working only on projects that hold personal interest. He enjoys maintaining a Japanese garden, mountain biking, martial arts and traveling.

Self portrait at Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park
Working on the Winemaker’s Marsh book with Kenneth Brower in Sonoma California

"Michael Sewell's photos are amazing."

Dianne Feinstein

U.S. Senator

Michael travels far and wide and often takes great risks to produce images!
He enjoys martial arts and Mt. biking
With one of his rescued Greyhounds
Michael’s photo blind where he has spent many hundreds of hours

"In a field glutted with gifted competitors, Michael Sewell stands out."

Glen Martin

San Francisco Chronicle

Early Days

Michael’s interest in nature and wildlife began when he was a child growing up in Berkeley, California. His father, Philip Sewell owned a well-known taxidermy business in the Bay Area where he mounted world records and some of the displays for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Michael developed a love of nature after many experiences with his father in the outdoors which included regular camping and fishing trips to remote locations. After guiding film crew for National Geographic Television and still photographers with his animal calling skills, Michael took up his own photography with an old camera of his father’s.

Michael’s father owned the most successful taxidermy shop at the time in Northern California. Some of his work is on display to this day at the Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park.
In Denail N.P., Alaska (from right to left) Michael, Danny Lehman (National Geographic), Leonard Lee Rue (pioneer of nature photography) and Mr. Rue's assistant, 1991.

"Sewell is distinguished from the herd of photographers in the field by his honest and fresh approach to a willy subject."

Mark Wilson

Boston Globe

Working with Galen

Within a few years of becoming serious about nature photography, Michael met renowned nature and wilderness photographer, Galen Rowell. They soon became friends, often photographing together around their home base, the Bay Area. Galen enjoyed Michael’s wildlife calling skills which netted them difficult subjects such as fox and bobcats.

Over a ten year period, Michael worked with Galen both as an assistant on a number of assignments including projects for Nikon and Audubon and as co-photographer on a best-selling coffee table book. They also travelled north of the Arctic Circle as friends to shoot stock images.

The late Galen Rowell had profound influence on Michael’s scenic photography. He credits Galen with helping him develop skills to be in the right place at the right time and to predict and utilize dramatic natural light.

Michael assisting Galen Rowell on assignment for Audubon Magazine in Yosemite National Park, 1993.
Michael and Galen Rowell at Point Reyes National Seashore working on their book, Bay Area Wild, 1997.
Self portrait around mile 90, inside Denali National Park

"Sewell captures the beauty of wild species and wild places in photographs that are at once colorful and compelling."

John Nuhn

Photo Editor, National Wildlife

Michael In The Field

Ascending to an owl nest 40 feet high during the Winemaker's Marsh book project.
In Barrow, Alaska (photo by Galen Rowell).
Off roading to a photo shoot in the Sierra
Discussing nature photography with Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, 1999
Animal calling in Monument Valley with
Navaho guide.
Triggering a remote camera set for jungle cats, Amazon Basin, Peru

"A Sand County Almanac is splendid and
your photography shows great depth from
wildlife, to landscapes..."

Galen Rowell


Land Rover Crossing Water.
Extinct Passenger Pigeon


Ever since I was a child nature fascinated me. My father would take me for long hours into nature, hiking, catching lizards, fishing or making sand castles. I’ve always been most at home in the wilderness, be it appreciating the complexity of a fallen bird’s feather, the break of dawn’s pink light on still water or the wind carrying crimson leaves to the ground. If there is magic on this earth, it’s in the natural world around us. I have never strived to be an artist and don’t consider myself one. I’ve only documented what I see, maybe it’s art at times, I’m not sure. The vast majority of my work is pre-digital and what you see is what I saw in that brief moment.

My photography is documentary or editorial and I believe photography can be a powerful influence if it reaches a wide audience. I feel honored that my work has been seen by millions over the years in major publications.

My pioneer heroes in photography (their work, not necessarily their personal life) are Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Edward Curtis among others. I am also grateful contemporary giants Galen Rowell and Kenneth Brower took a personal interest in my work and gave me guidance.

Michael signature white


Learn more about Visual Pursuit


Send us a message