In the early 1960s, Sabina Michaud and her husband Roland were told they’d never be able to earn a living through travel photography. They’ve spent their lives proving otherwise, funding their adventures around the world with the money they’ve made publishing photos and reports of distant places and cultures in newspapers, magazines, and more than 20 books. Their latest, Enchanted Lands, which Prestel published in December, collects nearly 500 photographs from a lifetime of spectacular journeys.
Roland, who was born in France, discovered his love of travel during an 85-day trip across Europe in 1950. He took his first photographs during this trip, using his grandfather’s 1894 Kodak. While completing military service in Rabat, Morocco, he met Sabrina, who was 19 at the time, in the city library. He asked her where she’d like to travel and she said she wanted to see India. He said he would take her there one day. Since then, they’ve gone there 25 times.
They were married in 1958 and moved to Paris’ 19th Arrondissement. They spent nights reading A Thousand and One Nights and dreaming of seeing the world. In 1960, they started a photo agency and took a reporting trip to East Africa that was supposed to take half a year but ended up lasting for 17 months, during which time Roland taught Sabrina how to make photographs.
“We had to set off again. Traveling for us meant stopping where we wanted for however long was useful and necessary. We were motivated. We wanted to live a life where work was our passion and there was no need for holidays because every day was a holiday,” Sabrina wrote in Enchanted Lands.
The pair bought a mini-jeep in 1963, and the next year they set off on a journey that would last four-and-a-half years and yield 34,000 photographs. They picked up assignments for newspapers and magazines, including, starting in 1970, National Geographic.
Now in their 80s, the Michauds live in Paris. They’ve been married nearly 60 years and have a son, Romain, who’s joined them on their expeditions. Life on the road hasn’t always been easy, they attest, but looking back, the positive memories are the ones that stick.
“What is wonderful about adventure is that only what is wonderful lasts,” Roland wrote.