If you happen to stumble upon photographer Susannah H. Snowden '95 on assignment, look down.
"In my pursuit of the unique angle, I find myself on the ground constantly," she says. "It's not uncommon for me to be lying in the middle of the street for a photojournalism assignment. When I'm looking through that lens, nothing else intrudes. I block out the world and sensation. I am concentrating so hard that I can hold a position like that without it bothering me."
That's a good thing because one of her recent photo assignments had her 150 feet under the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey, where she had to concentrate on shooting while avoiding poisonous scorpion fish. The shoot was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream that combined all of her passions-archeology, photography, scuba diving and travel-into one adventure.
Last summer, she shot the underwater excavation of a 1st-century B.C. Roman shipwreck at Kizilburun, Turkey. The excavation was through the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, based out of Texas A&M University, under archeological director Deborah Carlson. Snowden's images will provide a valuable historical record for use in research and publications for archeology scholars.
Since she was 11 years old, she has wanted to be an underwater archeologist.
"In sixth grade, we studied oceanography. There was a chapter on underwater explorers, including underwater archeologists. I declared then and there that I was going to be an underwater archeologist! My goal has been unwavering since then. This excavation represents years of studying, training, researching and networking," says Snowden, who majored in anthropology, with a focus on archeology.
In fact, within the first few days of arriving at Wheaton, she pronounced her plans to her art history professor, adding: "I'm going to find the rest of the Riace Bronzes" (5th century B.C. Greek statues that were recovered off the coast of Italy, presumably from a shipwreck).
"Finding the rest of those bronzes is still one of my goals," she notes.
In the meantime, the windsurfing fanatic travels the world shooting in Greece, Peru, Bolivia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, England, Ireland, Turkey, Morocco and elsewhere. This year alone, she likely will be traveling for nearly five months.
"When I'm traveling, the world opens up and my senses are heightened," she says. "I'm addicted to travel photography-when I haven't had it for a while I need, need it. I thrive on the adrenaline that my solo travel provides."
Interestingly, her first time on a plane was on a flight to Athens, Greece, for her Junior Year Abroad at Wheaton. That trip to Greece was also her first travel photography experience.
"Wheaton was a major stepping stone on this journey," says Snowden, who owns Omnia Photographics. "I chose Wheaton because I felt the college would foster my learning and be supportive of my aspirations. I was right. Enthusiastic and involved professors helped steer me in the direction of my goals. The challenging curriculum imbued me with a thorough background in classics, art history, archeology and photography.
"Wheaton fostered my growth as a person, both academically and personally. Wheaton demanded academic excellence, which in turn instilled in me a great work ethic. That work ethic is what drives me to excel in my career today."
Here are some photos from Snowden's excavation adventure in Turkey. View the gallery of all of her work at omniaphotographics.com.