Creative Showcase

Marisa Williams

Finding endless inspiration in unfamiliar places, Marisa Williams travels the world to capture her impressions on camera. Keep up with Marisa’s latest photo voyages and see where she’s headed to next at

Where are you from originally?

Berkeley, California.

As an avid traveler, where else have you lived?

Surprisingly, I’ve never lived outside of California. Though I hope to change that, one of these years! After heading to Los Angeles for college, I eventually moved back up north and have been based in Oakland ever since.

How did the college experience affect who you are today?

I entered college fully planning to go straight through to a masters or PhD program, but in the end I realized that I didn’t want to be a professional academic after all. That said, the countless hours spent on research, writing, and editing prepared me well for what I do today. I’m a photographer, yes. But I’m primarily a wordsmith.

When did you develop an interest in photography?

I took a black-and-white film class in high school, but wasn’t particularly adept at the technical aspects of capturing the perfect shot. I found it overwhelmingly complicated. Kind of like calculus! Between that and the chemicals used to develop our own rolls of film, I kind of tabled photography and forgot about it until after college when digital cameras came into play and taking pictures became easy fun (well, easier) and infinitely more affordable.

How do you describe your travel images?

An ongoing collection of memories and dreams. The real joy of travel is wrapped up in the anticipation and memory of being there; the trip itself flies by and is over before you know it. Knowing this, I attempt to make very personal pictures that are true to the way I remember a place or the way I imagine it, rather than the place as it actually is or was.

What inspires you most?

Other artists, films, the “idea” of a place.

When did photography become more than just a hobby?

About 10 years ago I started out selling signed prints and cards with a friend at East Bay Open Studios, and eventually found modest success at iStockphoto, Farmboy Fine Arts, and on Etsy. When I look back at all that early work though, I’m horrified! But, it sold and that gave me the confidence to forge ahead.

What has inspired and shaped you the most as a photographer?

Those “first-time” trips. I’m most inspired and productive when I’m in a new place. In contrast, the better I know a place, the less I can “see” it and the fewer frames I come home with. For instance, I find it frustratingly difficult to take interesting pictures in the Bay Area. It’s a lovely place to live, but I rarely break my camera out. When I do, I mostly find myself disappointed with the results. However, I often see someone else’s shots of San Francisco and think, “Wow! Why didn’t I ever notice that?”

Who and what are some of your biggest influences?

Eugene Atget’s pictures of Paris, American or foreign language films set overseas, and all the European travel magazines and books belonging to my mother that I used to flip through as a kid.

What are some of your favorite books / sites?

I’m currently in the middle of “Maphead” by Ken Jennings. I love maps! Which shouldn’t come as a surprise. And in terms of coffee table treats, lately I’m loving Nichole Robertson’s “Paris in Color” along with Rachel Hale’s “The French Cat” and “The French Dog”. And judge if you must, but I always, always find inspiring images on Flickr. I like digging for diamonds, I guess.

Is there anyone you're interested in working with or for?

Would love to have a travel title published at Chronicle Books one day. Their books are always so well designed and fun.

What are you currently working on? Anything fun and exciting you'd like to share?

Currently processing images from Santorini (Greece) and planning new trips to NYC and Italy for the fall. Can’t wait to get back to Liguria and explore the coast between Genoa and Nice (France) with my camera!

Can you tell us about any projects you've been involved in that you're particularly proud of?

Through Farmboy Fine Arts, three of my images taken in Venice (Italy) were used along with another artist’s work to create a unique glass countertop for a bar at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi. Hope to see it in person some day!

How would you describe your creative process?

See it, frame it the way I want to remember it, and shoot! As for my post-processing tricks and techniques, that’s top secret. No can tell.

What's next in the world of Marisa Williams? Any exciting upcoming projects?

I’m developing an idea for a site with various mobile and printed components that will allow people to plan their travels by picture. It’s a really fun concept, if I can find the time to get it off the ground!