Through The Eyes Of: Marietta Gawdzik

Canada might be considered home right now, but the world is a photographic playground for Marietta. She calls herself “Flower Bee” on Flickr – perhaps because her lifestyle of flitting from country to country with her camera at hand mirrors the busy bee hopping from flower to flower to collect its pollen prize. Her images capture the aspects of a culture unique to each area she visits – the people, clothing, landscapes and all the bits and trinkets in between.

Before heading off to Laos, Marietta took a few moments to tell us about her very first camera that set her off on some travel adventures, talks about returning to the same spot to capture it in a different light and shares a few words of wisdom from Henri Cartier-Bresson that keep her inspired.

Flowers for you madame

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Poland in 60s. Since childhood I vicariously traveled through books, magazines and travel shows on TV. This was the only window to the world at a time when Poles could not leave the country without the proper authorization to be issued a passport. I tried to make my explorer dream real; I studied travel and tourism management, and later I worked for travel agency. In the early 90s I moved to Canada where I live with my family to the present day. I go on trips with my husband, who also photographed, whenever I can.

Red Dao embroidery

LPO: When and why did you become a photographer? Can you remember a certain moment that made you decide that was what you wanted to be?
MG: We all have albums of pictures of loved ones and of ourselves from when we were younger. When I was at school I was taking photos of my friends and my family using my mother’s camera. The first camera I bought myself was a Russian knockoff Yashica I found in a small Siberian town. With it, I started to take pictures during my trips. I always have a camera in my hand when I travel. I want to stop all those magical moments in the frame, documenting fascinating cultures and exotic locations. Travel photographers are mostly freelance photographers. In my daily life when I’m not abroad, I design floral arrangements and have recently started to work with jewellery; but it’s great to travel around the world, take pictures and get paid for it too.

Cuban cigar

LPO: Your love of travel has taken you all over Latin America, Asia and Europe. Which place has provided the most fulfilling experience for you as a photographer and why? Is there a place you would not return to?
MG: All the places I visited were interesting in their own way. Some had fascinating nature and topography, others had amazing ancient history or vibrant traditional clothing and warm faces. Havana is a street photographer’s dream destination. Cuba has a unique mix of 1950s cars, rich Afro-Latin culture and great colonial architecture. Argentina has a fascinating and diverse landscape, vast desert, the Andes mountains, lakes and glaciers and extensive flat regions. Vietnam is amazing place to take photos, I especially like the hill tribes area around Lao Cai province in the northern part of the country. Sometimes a place is inaccessible or discouraging, the weather is not ideal or the food is difficult to deal with but there are always other interesting and exciting elements which you like and it winds you up to want to return again. There is no such place that I wouldn’t return to.

Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat

LPO: When you travel, what elements do you look for when composing a photograph?
MG: Travel photography is challenging and absorbing, it changes constantly with the light, places, seasons and daily weather. I love lines and colour. I try highlighting colour within a certain area of a photograph to use as a compositional element. When I’m setting up a shot I always consider natural light. I love the time around sunset, when light is always very warm. It’s worth it to return to a spot during a better time of day to capture that unique atmosphere.

Tango Argentino

LPO: Share one of your images that you feel best demonstrates the style of photography you strive to achieve and tell us why.
MG: I have never actively tried to develop a style or even thought about it. My philosophy is try to get the best shot possible at the moment.

I look for opportunities in everyday life. I want to make an image that captures the individual spirit of the person. I look for candid moments. For portraits, I try to make contact with the person, spend some time with them, wait for the moment they feel more relaxed about the situation.

The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.

LPO: Apart from your travel shots, you have quite a good collection of nature and animal photographs. Talk about the similarities and differences in the way you seek out photo opportunities while abroad versus at home in Canada.
MG: My real passion lies in travel photography and I would describe the photos I take at home as more of a weekend hobby. It gives me the opportunity to practice with the camera in a familiar and relaxed setting. Nature and animals are very forgiving meanwhile people abroad are not as comfortable in front of the camera, especially when photographed by strangers.

My older sister

LPO: How do you feel about post-processing? Which programs do you use, if any?
MG: I do some minor exposure correction and sometimes I will crop a worthwhile photo, but, overall, I do not spend much time editing my images. I try to do most of the composition and exposure work while shooting but I would like to learn more about post-processing.

Chewing coca leaves

LPO:What’s your photography motto? What words of wisdom keep you motivated and inspired?
MG: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Looking upon your photos as if you were looking at them through someone else’s eyes is a good way to give yourself constructive criticism. This way you will notice improvement and it will motivate you to keep learning.


LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
MG: Having my photos noticed and used for publication is always rewarding. I would like my body of work to expose unique places and cultures to people who cannot travel for various reasons. I want people to journey through photography just as I did before I started exploring.

Passing by the Bayon temple

LPO: Share something about yourself that you haven’t mentioned in the rest of the interview.
MG: Well, I’m just an ordinary person, who has a chocolate addiction, loves gardening, is scared of spiders and crazy about trekking.

Smile of Vietnam
Thanks Marietta!

For more of Anne’s work, have a look at her Flickrstream.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.


About Little Observationist

Appreciating life's little luxuries.
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