So what is “True Kansas?”

Well, it’s an evolving concept, but this site itself — — will be the central hub for a variety of outlets for my Kansas photography and for promoting this under-appreciated state. To begin with, I’ll be blogging here about what I love and find interesting about Kansas: landscapes I’m drawn to, architectural styles I appreciate and hidden spots that may be unknown to many. I’ll share images I’ve made on recent shoots as well as many from my files from the past 30+ years. Perhaps I’ll even share some photos I’ve inherited from my parents and grandparents as they recorded their time in this state. I’ll share stories, too, but this site will be mostly about images. While I don’t in any way see this project becoming a full “travel guide” for Kansas, I do hope that it will inspire travel and exploration and that it may change some preconceptions.

Instagram and Facebook

In addition, I’m also launching an Instagram account for @TrueKansas today, where I will share additional Kansas images from my files. There will be a Facebook page, as well, that should keep you updated on what’s going on here and where I can share links to other interesting Kansas news and happenings.

Future plans

As time goes on, I plan to expand this site and its offerings to include easier ways for publishers to search my Kansas image archives and to license stock images. I also want to provide simple ways for individuals or corporations to buy prints. For now, if you’re interested in licensing an image or buying a print, just drop me an email at and we’ll work out the details.

That’s about it for now. This is, I hope, just the beginning. Please check back regularly to see what’s new and consider following me on Instagram and liking the True Kansas Facebook page to keep up on what’s happening around here.

Thanks for your interest in Kansas!

Michael C. Snell, travel photographer and graphic designer

A brief bio

I find that bios are the hardest possible thing to write. I’m not going to blather on about my “passion for creating timeless images” or my “deep need to communicate my inner thoughts through digital imagery.” Instead, I’ll just hit the high points of how I got to where I am:

  • Born in Topeka to a family that has been in Kansas since sometime in the 19th century with lines that trace back to England and Holland. My father was an Old West historian and worked as first an archivist and later as the Director of the Kansas State Historical Society. This is where I would develop my interest in Kansas, as many of my first travels were with my father as he roamed the state acquiring manuscripts and artifacts for the State’s collections.
  • Worked summer jobs at the Kansas State Historical Society during high school that ranged from cleaning old glass negative collections to being the stack boy for the research library. During college I worked with the State Research Historian on a special project between the Historical Society and the Kansas Department of Transportation, researching and writing National Registration nominations for historic bridges. This further fueled my interests in Kansas back roads as most of the subjects of these nominations were on very primitive roads in the Kansas outback.
  • Received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communications from the University of Kansas in Lawrence and turned a Senior year internship into a full-time job as a graphic designer for a Topeka-based advertising agency. Stayed with that agency through a merger, a relocation and an ownership change.
  • During my years at the ad agency, I worked on a variety of accounts including serving several years as the art director for the Kansas State Travel & Tourism account. Projects I designed included ads, brochures, the official travel guide, highway welcome signs and the State travel magazine, Kansas!.
  • Left the agency world in 1997 to pursue a freelance career in photography and publication design. Developed one of the most complete stock photography libraries for Kansas tourism and began working on expanding the library to include neighboring states, the Great Lakes region, and eventually adding international destinations. Joined the Society of American Travel Writers as a photographer member and have served on the SATW Board of Directors as both Active at Large (currently) and as the Chair of the Freelance Council (2009-2011). Also served in various capacities on Convention Committees including the conventions held in New Zealand, the US Gulf Coast, Iceland, and the upcoming convention in China.
  • Through SATW and other outlets, I have delivered many professional development sessions and workshops focused on photography, image management, and minimizing gear for travel.
  • While I still manage the licensing of the bulk of my Kansas imagery myself, I work with Robert Harding World Imagery and Alamy to license my out-of-state and international images. I have also begun to self-publish portfolios of work in the form of a series of books I call the Journals of a Travel Photographer. They can be found in the Blurb print-on-demand bookstore.

That should explain a little about how I became interested in documenting Kansas. I’m sure much more will reveal itself as blog posts continue to accumulate on this site. Please come back often, and I’d appreciate it if you would follow me on Instagram and like the True Kansas Facebook page.