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Employee blog: Scott Pudwell seizes the day through photography


When Scott Pudwell isn’t being an American Family agent, he can be found well off the beaten path taking gorgeous nature photos that have been featured in calendars, postcards and publications.

In 2005, I moved to Seattle from Minneapolis to be a field training instructor in the great state of Washington with American Family. It was a good move, because I’ve always been captivated by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

One of my first weekends in Washington, I went on a whale-watching boat to see the killer whale pods that reside in the water not too far from Seattle. The biologist on the boat had a fancy camera with a HUGE lens.

I saw his amazing images of the whales, and from that day on, I was hooked.

I wanted to learn to be an amazing photographer. I spent years going to photography classes and workshops and spending time in the field perfecting my skills. It always impressed me what a camera could catch for that one splendid moment in nature: A glacier calving in the ocean, a lightning bolt in the sky, a magnificent sunrise or the joy of a person’s face in one of life’s special moments.

That’s the great thing about photography. When things are at their worst, is usually when the best pictures are made.

Some of my best work has been when I have been waist deep in snow in Yosemite Valley, or in the middle of a tornadic thunderstorm in the Great Plains, or waking up at 3 a.m. to drive and hike to a tranquil lake in the middle of nowhere to witness a sunrise that few people choose to see. I have gone face-to-face with a bear from 10 feet away TWICE and lived.

I often get asked, “How do you do all this? How have you seen all of these places?” I simply state that I just choose to do it. You only get one shot at life, and I want to experience as much as I can in this world.

I have been really fortunate that I have had many opportunities with American Family to travel to some really great places in my previous role as a trainer and my current role as an agent in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Seeing the things I’ve seen has only ignited my passion to see even more and, through my photography, capture some of it for the rest of the world to see. I have been lucky enough to have my photos featured in National Park Service calendars, postcards and a variety of other publications.

Ever since I was a kid, I have lived for adventure. Creating the perfect image, and capturing unique, once-in-a-lifetime moments is something that drives me. It’s why I keep adding new places to visit to my bucket list.

I just booked a trip next summer to fly into a rustic camp in Lake Clark National Park in Alaska to photograph the coastal brown bears. Let’s hope I don’t come face-to-face for the third time.

But if I do, I know I’ll get some great pictures!

To see more of Scott’s work, visit: