I learned photography from my father, a teacher, at our home in Sylvania, Ohio.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky I worked for National Geographic as a contract and staff photographer for thirty-three years.
In 1990, my work was the subject of a one-person exhibition and monograph titled Stay This Moment at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
Since then I have published four additional collections of work: Seeing Gardens; Sam Abell: The Photographic Life; The Life of a Photograph and Sam Abell Library.
In addition, I maintain a career as a writer, teacher, and lecturer on photography.