Sometimes it takes doing something you don’t love to discover what you do. This was true for Marianna Jamadi who, although now a successful photographer, for a long time was unsure of the direction she was headed. Marianna went to school for business, but always had a spark of creativity within her. While working in the fashion industry for many years, she remembered how much she enjoyed a photography elective she took back in college. She then enrolled in a continuing education course for 35mm film slides, igniting the spark within her. With a new love for photography and a longing to travel again, she quit her corporate job, sold her belongings, and left New York to pursue her passion.
Embracing the Unknown
As a child of immigrants, much of Marianna’s life growing up consisted of travelling with her family to visit relatives abroad. Marianna shared, “Travel is something that was always part of my life.” After living in the same city for seven years, she decided it was time to go. She always wanted to shoot travel photography, and after years of working in the corporate world, she realized she “was ready to be uncomfortable.”
Although scary and intimidating to leave the comfort of the familiar, she told herself “it’s now or never.” Marianna believes that opportunities open up when you trust that things will work out. That’s when she moved abroad and began her new journey.
“It’s about listening and trusting. Not only yourself, but the universe and what’s happening.”
A Mindful Traveler
For Marianna, travelling to and photographing new places allows her to practice mindfulness. “In terms of reflective processes… I’m realizing that travel is my mindful meditation in a lot of ways.” Travelling allowed Marianna to practice and explore photography without any expectations. She also learned to balance knowing when to take pictures, and when to leave her camera behind. She would ask herself, “Do you want to experience it? Or do you want to document it?”
When Marianna visits somewhere new, she always gives herself a day or two to explore without her camera. This lets her sense the energy and get a feel for the vibe around her without looking through a lens. For Marianna, it’s about becoming culturally aware, observing people and remaining present. Doing so allows her to portray the places she visits and the people she meets through her photography in a more meaningful way.
“Once your eyes are open, your eyes are open.”
More Than a Photographer
Marianna wanted to change the idea that travel was just an individual experience. She helped begin El Camino Travel, a company that offers authentic group travel experiences. El Camino cares about people and creating memories by pairing groups with a travel photographer to document their experience and create lasting memories. Marianna also runs her own company, Nomadic Habit, where she uses the power of imagery and words to tell the stories of the people she meets and places she experiences. Nomadic Habit was born out of a dream to share the power of movement, travel, and people in hopes of dispelling fear and invoking curiosity in the minds and hearts of others.
Marianna is also involved with VSCO in a project to photograph and write about members of the Periferia Dance Company, an initiative that, through the language of dance, analyzes the context of the Caribbean coast in Cartagena, Columbia, as a territory marked by its colonial legacy. Marianna hopes that through her photos, she can begin a conversation. “I was looking for an avenue to tell that story,” shared Marianna. “I wanted to use what I could do [photography] to continue that conversation.
“It’s important to live a life to create ripples, to hopefully create waves.”
Expression & Exploration
Marianna expresses herself through her photography and explained that it is an avenue for exploration as well as healing. Similarly to how photography is the way Marianna digests the world around her, writing allows her to be creative and release her thoughts, feelings and frustrations. When she doesn’t write, she notices, “My body feels like it needs it. My mind needs it.” Photography allows her to learn things about the world and writing helps her discover things about herself.
“I’m my most happy when I am discovering something new… The experience of discovery to me is so fulfilling.”
With photography and writing at the center of what she does, Marianna is able to live a mindful life while travelling and visiting new places. She hopes to continue to make a difference in other’s lives, while making the most of her own.
Marianna’s Questions for KYŌ:
- How do you feel?
- Are you being true to yourself?
- How am I being impactful?
Photography by Marianna Jamadi