outdoors | spotlight on hunting, fishing and more
Photographer expresses his love of nature
By Ed Zieralski
Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 2:13 a.m.
A Michael Seewald photograph of
Yosemite in the winter.
An award-winning photographer and avid fisherman, Michael Seewald knows
that a great photo presents itself about as often as a trophy largemouth
“Our eyes process 32 frames per second, so there are about a million photo
possibilities a day, but which one is worth stopping for and making a
piece of art out of it?” Seewald said. “I’m always looking for the perfect
photo, and I never know what it is.”
In his more than 40-year career as a photojournalist, Seewald, 57, of Del
Mar, has captured those perfect moments often enough to stock a couple of
galleries, which he has in Del Mar and Leucadia. He has used his
photographic talent to fund many trips around the world. He met his wife,
Valerie, through his photography.
“She was an art collector, and then one day, she collected me,” Seewald
Photographers Forum Magazine once said Seewald’s photos “communicate in a
quiet, lyrical way.”
For Seewald, his photos share his deep faith in God, tremendous love of
nature and appreciation and joy of life. His motto is, “Art by man …
inspiration from God.”
Seewald teaches photography for users of digital and regular cameras, and
he says his classes are for all levels of photographers. He teaches
locally and throughout the world. His next travel class is in Yosemite in
Michael Seewald with a largemouth bass in South Africa
“I’ve had people come in from all over the country to take these classes,”
Seewald said. “On the first day, we build a race car. The next day, we go
out and race the car, build art. After that it’s up to them to become
winners. But I give them all the tools. I’ve had people say they had two
years of college photography, but they learn more from me in two days than
they did in college.”
Seewald was introduced to art by his mother. He watched her paint and
decided to try it. He was in grade school when he won the first art
competition he entered. He drew a haunted house scene on the front of an
ice cream shop in Chula Vista and won first place.
“I used the lights from inside the store to shine
through the windows of the haunted house to make it look more natural,”
As a youngster, Seewald developed an appreciation for
light and what made good art, matched by his love for fishing. He
remembers fishing and clamming Chesapeake Bay and fishing the Great Lakes.
When his father moved to Chula Vista to become a Border Patrol agent, he
and his brothers and friends often took 20-mile round trip rides on their
bikes to fish Lower Otay Lake.
“We were bobber and night crawler guys who fished for
bluegill, mostly, but then one day I met an older fisherman who was
walking the bank and throwing a big black plastic worm,” Seewald said. “He
was catching more fish than us, big bass, all on that plastic worm. I
asked him for some fishing tips, and he showed me how he rigged it and
then reeled it back slowly. That was my introduction to artificial baits
and stitching (pulling line back by hand).”
Seewald remembers getting an old Brownie camera in his early teens. He
became the family photographer. He documented trips, fish that were
caught, anything to preserve the family memories.
He studied journalism and photography at Southwestern College and then San
Diego State. But for the most part, he was self-taught as a photographer,
a student of life and art.
“The only job I coveted in those days was Ansel Adams’ job,” Seewald said
of the legendary nature photographer. “He traveled the world and shot
photos and got paid. That was the perfect job. But he already had it.”
Seewald figured out a way to sell his photos, sight unseen, before his
trips. That allowed him to pay for his travel and return with photographs
that not only were sold but also were worth more the opening night of a
“Photographs are going for over $3 million, so that has really helped
photographers at all levels,” Seewald said.
Seewald said he got away from fishing for many years, but about five years
ago he had an urge to return to his roots and fish at Lower Otay Lake. He
now has a Skeeter bass boat and plans to fish in some money tournaments.
Many of the trips will involve some kind of fishing.
These days he travels thinking that next trip could produce a trophy fish
and a classic photo.
Information on taking Seewald’s photography class or visiting his
galleries is at seewald.com or (760) 633-1351.