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Human Woman: Marianna Massey

There’s a streak of wanderlust running through most of us—for some it surfaces once or twice a year, others every hour on the hour. In the lulls between journeys, it helps to have an escape hatch.


Enter Marianna Massey. This New-Orleans-based photojournalist is away from home more often than not, taking photos for clients like Getty, filling her portfolio with top-notch work and her Insta feed with secluded beach sunsets, hidden alleyways, killer meals and secret coves. Scroll as needed when you’re jonesing for a getaway—for now, let her give you the lowdown on hustle, humility and what it’s really like to be a professional globetrotter.

What kind of background did you have before you got into your work?

I studied photojournalism at the University of Florida and took some classes in the MFA tract, because I appreciated the artistic aspect of the work. But I think, in the end, that was more for people who wanted to showcase their work in galleries. If I had an MFA, what would I be doing? Working in a museum? The photojournalism major was such a better option for me.

I did internships at newspapers, I wasn’t a straight-A student but I really loved it. I was still finding my way. College was about learning how to show up. I could have studied anything, really–what I took away from it most was contacts. Those resources still come in handy to this day.

This editor who used to be with Sports Illustrated went to University of Florida, and I knew he was at the Olympics, so I tweeted him that I was there for Getty and asked if I could meet with him and show him my work. He saw my resume and was like, “You went to UF? You just went up 100 points in my book!” Fast forward a year later, and I got the Sports Illustrated cover with Leonard Fournette. That was only because I’d put myself out there.

Even with Getty, every time the Olympics is coming up I still get in touch and let them know I want the job. I email my boss and ask to be considered and show them what I’ve done in the past year, because they have like 150 photographers who go every year and it’s not automatic. I always ask, and am very pushy in that way. I don’t come across that way normally, but I secretly am.

Well, it definitely sounds like you’re keeping busy—how do you feel about where you are with your career?

I was definitely a late bloomer, so it’s intimidating to see the young people coming up who can do so much with the technology that’s out now. I think there’s no substitute for experience, but it still makes me hustle that much more. I try not to worry about that, though—you sit there and worry about it all day and you’ll make yourself crazy.

It’s easy to get caught up in it. “Why did he get that job, why did she get that job instead of me?” You just have to put your blinders on and keep working. You have to always be ready for the next thing, and thinking one step ahead.

How has social media (and the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket) affected what you do?

There was this one trip I went on recently, and there was this woman, she was so gorgeous, and she came in, all the bartenders knew her and were fawning over here. And she sat there and Snapchatted herself the whole time! Didn’t speak to anyone, just putting her flower crowns on, and it was so strange and sad. I really try to make sure I take time just for myself, go out and not take my real camera, so I can just enjoy things and feel alive without documenting the shit out of it.

I’ve been on press trips with bloggers and they’re all doing their own thing, but now they’re all photographers, too. So I have to get up early to go shoot the sunrise before they wake up.

There’s always going to be something else—there’s always going to be a new Facebook, a new Instagram. I know people who are amazingly successful and super famous—you think those people are on Instagram? No. 

Do you think Grace Coddington gives a fuck about Instagram? No. She’s too busy creating.

One more thing: As someone who travels all the time, you must have picked up some packing tips. Spill it.

My photo gear always has to go with me, so that’s always in the carry-on. I’ll check my big lens if I have it. And then this bag has my laptop in it. If I’m shooting a golf tournament, then it sucks because I have to pack all my golf gear which I would never wear in real life! Rain gear, in case it rains…oh, and I definitely roll everything! I’m a firm believer in rolling. I stuff all my socks in my shoes, keep hotel samples, and I always, always bring a bathing suit and a black dress everywhere I go—you never know. Someone might have a pool, you might get an invite to a hot tub, there might be a party—you’ve gotta be ready for anything!