Interview: Marianna Jamadi

August 17 2014

Wanderlust isn’t a strong enough word to describe the energy that propels Marianna Jamadi on her journeys around the world. Wanderlust implies a want, a strong desire. The way Jamadi speaks about her global wanderings, it’s clear she moves out of pure necessity. After ditching her New York City job several years ago, the venturesome photographer traveled the world over with an itchy trigger finger and a mission to explore. Her extensive body of work is sure to inspire jealousy in even the most devout homebodies.

We caught up with Marianna to talk about her travels, capturing the perfect moment, and her new start-up, El Camino Travel.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Were you a photographer first or a traveler?  

I was born in Long Beach, California to a Finnish mother and Indonesian Father. Traveling is something that is deeply ingrained in my blood. Because of my diverse background, my family traveled often and I grew up in a home where traveling was just part of our lifestyle. As my love for photography blossomed as an adult, documenting my adventures folded seamlessly into the mix.

Your story is one many people dream of— escaping the monotony of corporate life for travels all around the world. Was there a tipping point that compelled you to drop everything and go? 

I was living in NYC for seven years and really just needed a break. The corporate world was not fulfilling and I had always wanted to get rid of my belongings, clear the slate, and see the world for a year or so. I don’t think there was one particular tipping point, but more so it was the culmination of my hunger to live big and the fearlessness to do it.

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You’ve mentioned that your journey began with the goal of photographing your entire family, have you managed to achieve this yet? Any long-lost uncles you’re still tracking down? 

I have so far photographed my mother’s side which resides in Finland, but unfortunately, about a year into my planned 1.5 year trip, I had to return home to LA to care for a sick parent. This hindered me from completing the entire family photography tree. The good news is I am heading out on August 20th to Indonesia and Australia to finish out the series.

What’s your favorite place that you’ve been to so far? 

Mongolia has been by far the most interesting place I’ve visited. I spent 6 weeks there and became really fascinated in their culture and was equally blown away by the landscape. There is a vastness to it that makes you feel both small and powerful in the same moment.

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World travel can be pretty hectic. How do you mange to capture so many quiet, meaningful moments amongst the frenetic energy of the road? 

I think it’s easy to get lost in the chaotic nature that can come with traveling. Quiet moments live in pockets everywhere and I think I find them both out of necessity for my own sanity as well as my own appetite for beauty.

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You recently started your own travel company, El Camino Travel. How did that come about? 

As the digital age would have it, my current co-founder had been following my travel blog and reached out to me inquiring about using my photos for the website of her new travel company. The next thing I knew I was on board as co-founder. She is based in DC and I am based in LA and we started the entire company on opposite coasts. We wanted to create authentic and well curated travel experiences for groups of 10-12 people to unique locations and also bring a professional photographer along to accompany the group the whole time. The idea being that people can live in the moment and not worry about capturing it. Beyond that, 10% of profits goes to a local social entrepreneur who is radically changing their country and they will also lead a dinner one night to get that unique and intimate perspective into the country.

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Where to next?

I am off to Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand until mid October, then off to Nicaragua early November for El Camino’s inaugural trip to Nicaragua.

You can keep up with Marianna and her travels on her blog and Instagram  and plan your own world adventure at El Camino Travel