Whether she's shooting fashion editorial or taking self portraits, today's feature photographer is living her dream and doing it in style. We absolutely love her creative spirit and the content she creates. Today we are happy to be featuring portrait photographer, Marina Williams!
Below we asked Marina a series of questions to help us get to know her and her photography journey better. So let's get started!
We loved your Reel on Instagram demonstrating how your photography has changed over the years. Can you tell us about that initial spark and why you decided to pursue photography?
When I was in middle school, my grandpa gave me his old 35mm film camera and taught me how to load film and use the light meter. He was the person who introduced me to photography and got me excited to take photos. In high school, I saved up for my first DSLR and organized photo shoots with my friends for fun.
I always loved the idea of styling exciting outfits and extravagant makeup, so when I started college I decided to join the photography program at FSU. From there, I started running my freelance business on the side, mostly doing graduation and couples photos, but also got involved with student-run fashion magazines on campus where I worked with a team of creatives to bring an editorial to life. This is where I really fell in love with creative portraits and women’s fashion, which is what I do full time today.
My style has changed so much over the 10+ years. I’ve been practicing photography, as I’m often influenced by different art and feel myself going through different “phases” of photography. Right now, I have a huge love of bold, saturated colors, but what I love most about photography is that you can always keep experimenting with new styles to find what fits you best.
You normally shoot fashion/models for brands, correct? Tell us a little bit about your self-portrait endeavor in 2020 and how it's impacted your photography.
In 2020 when COVID was introduced, almost all of my client sessions were canceled or postponed. During lockdown I needed to find a way to get creative at home because I always get antsy if I haven’t shot in a while. I started setting setup backdrops and lights in the kitchen or living room of my apartment and hunting for objects around the house that I could use as props in my photos.
I hadn’t ever taken photos of myself since I first started photography in high school, so at first self portraits felt really outside of my wheelhouse. It was definitely a challenge to be both behind the camera and it front of it, but after a lot of practice it became almost a ritual that I loved.
There’s something really freeing about being able to create on your own terms and experimenting outside your comfort zone. I think self portraits are what led me to really grow in 2020, and I’ve been able to apply these skills to the fashion/portrait work I do for brands now.
What has been the most influential moment in your photography career?
I think the most influential moment in my photography career was when I realized people liked my creative, experimental work more than anything else I shared. When I first left my full time job to pursue photography, I marketed a lot of weddings, senior portraits, and engagement sessions because that’s what I was trying to book with clients to pay my bills.
Whenever I got a chance to create just for fun and collaborate with others to bring an idea I had to life, I was shocked to see that these were the types of shoots other people liked the most. I started booking creative portraits with clients who just wanted to shoot for fun, and I realized I could make this the driving part of my business. I was able to leave the other types of sessions behind and focus on being a creative portrait photographer, which has led to so many dream opportunities for me.
Recently you finished your very own studio, although it's fairly new, what plans do you have for the space and how do you think it will influence your brand going forward?
I’m really excited to have my own space now! I recently turned the outdoor shed on my property into a photo studio/home office. Up until now I’ve been limited to temporary setups in my home or working around others schedules in a shared studio rental in Salt Lake, so I’m looking forward to having a place where I can create whenever I feel inspired. I definitely plan on continuing to shoot self portraits in here, and I think I’ll be able to get more creative than before because of it.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers, what would it be?
A piece of advice that’s helped me is to try not to compare yourself to other creators, only compare yourself to your past work. If you focus on practicing photography, experimenting, investing in education, and growing your own skills and portfolio, that’s the only thing that matters in your journey.
Your style is very unique and you are always coming up with creative ways to elevate your photography. You've also incorporated this in your own education courses and retreats. What has been your biggest driving factor to host these?
When I first started building a portfolio, I dreamed of executing high-level concepts with really amazing wardrobe, concepts, sets, props, and models. It just wasn’t in my budget at the time (or my wheelhouse) to be able to do this.
I started a business where my business partner (who is an art director and stylist) host events for photographers to come join and build their portfolio by shooting these types of concepts. It’s a really great way for them to learn by doing, make connections and network with other photographers, and create work to level up their portfolio and website in order to attract their dream clients.
Education has become a huge passion of mine over the years too—I’ve found there’s a huge need for it, and I know what that feeling is like. When I graduated from my college’s photography program, I still had so many unanswered questions.
I love sharing tips, tricks, and education on all things related to photography, from the technical side to the business side. I hope to be able to help others navigate their journeys so they can achieve their dreams faster.
We want to say a huge thank you to Marina for taking the time out of her busy schedule to let us get to know her better. It's our honor here at pictureline to feature local photographers and Marina is so AMAZING at what she does. For more about Marina, follow her on Instagram or visit her website.