Boarding Pass – Marisa Williams

When photographer Marisa Williams, or Risamay as I know her, sent in her Boarding Pass responses, I didn’t know what to do with all the great images she sent over, and I didn’t want to cut too many. So I decided to make it a bit of a puzzle for myself. Drawing from her responses and experiences, I tried to create diptychs that paired different places and relate them in new ways. In the process, I got to take a closer look of her photographic eye and the way she looks at the world. Thanks, Marisa! Anne

{Venice: Tratoria da’a Marisa / Pompeii, Italy: Angel}

home town:
Berkeley, CA. An American original, as quintessentially liberal cities go. Though, Berkeley ain’t what it used to be, if you ask me.

{Oakland: Outspoken Grand Lake theater}

where you live now:
Oakland, CA. If you’ve come to California looking for Berkeley, head over to Oakland instead. We’re pretty liberal and outspoken, too. And it’s a fantastic place if you’re a foodie. While Berkeley lost its Michelin star last year (Chez Panisse), Oakland gained one (Commis)! That said, Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” is more to my taste (and price point), and Oakland’s a winner here too with favorites like Brown Sugar Kitchen, Picán, and others.

{Budapest, Hungary: graffiti / Dubrovnik: red chair}

last trip taken:
Santa Barbara, CA. I spent a week over Thanksgiving with my brother and had the time to ramble around town while he was at work. It really is America’s Riviera. And a photographer’s paradise. I loved the Spanish tile work, whitewashed architecture, and the Mediterranean feel. Can’t wait to go back and explore some more.

{Paris: Marais white door / Venice: menu}

next trip on deck:
Genova, Italy. While I’ve been to Liguria once before, it was years ago with a crappy first-generation digital point-and-shoot. I stayed in Camogli and never actually made it up to Genova. This time I’m using Genova as my home base to both discover and day trip from. I’ve been dying to get back to this colorful corner of Italy with a fancy DSLR and bevy of lenses. It’s such a special place (though, isn’t all of Italy), and I feel like I barely scratched the surface on my first visit.

{Paris: Louvre / Paris: Place des Vosges with lensbaby}

{Paris: Montmartre cafe}

one place you would go back to again and again:
Europe in general, Italy in particular, and Venice specifically, if you’re asking me to pinpoint a city – no question about it – I am hopelessly smitten with La Serenissima. It’s one of the only places that, for me, lived up to the hype on-sight. What a first impression. When I stepped out of the train station and into the city on that virginal visit in 2000, I shed actual tears of glee. It was just so – oh, I don’t know. Enchanting. And it continues to live up to my great expectations with each return visit.

{Italy: The Faragoli Capri}

{Bay of Naples / Venice: Boat team practice}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Croatia. Anywhere in Croatia along the coast – be it the mainland or the country’s many idyllic islands. I stayed in a charming little suburb of Dubrovnik in 2006 and day-tripped all around. It was incredible. I loved the natural feel of the architecture and the way it perfectly complimented the terrain. There wasn’t an eyesore to be seen – the coast is completely undeveloped in terms of industry, rendering it pristine. The white limestone cliffs, the lush green pine trees, and the vibrantly intoxicating colors of the Adriatic make it one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand. Photos just don’t do it justice. So you must go!

{Tour Groups – my idea of how not to see the world}

preferred method of transportation:
Train. I find train travel ideal for how relaxing it is and how much reflecting (or napping) you can squeeze in between destinations. But aside from that, walking. There’s no better way to explore a new city than on foot.

{Venice: Canal stone stairs / Hawaii: Oahu beach}

{Venice: Canal reflections}

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
The Greek Islands. I fall for all the cliches, it seems. Paris, Venice, Greece. And, of course, the one I really have my sights set on is Santorini. But, in my defense, how can you see a photo of a place like Santorini and not dream of getting there somehow, someday? I think it’ll finally come to pass in 2012. At least that’s the plan (yes, I‘ve already begun to plan my 2012 trips … and beyond – I am both that crazy and that crazy organized when it comes to travel).

{Naples: graffiti}

place you’d never go back:
Mexico City was my first trip outside the U.S. and while I have to say I wasn’t smitten, I do think I’d give it a try again (though I used to feel quite strongly otherwise). But with so many places in the world that I’m determined to see at least once before the bucket, I can’t say when (or even if) I’ll get back to Mexico City. Travel time and money are precious, so I spend accordingly according to the places I most want to see.

{Venice: Flooded dream, Piazza San Marco} / Venice: Piazza San Marco}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
Too excited to sleep off the jet lag on what would be the first of many magical mornings in Venice over the years (but the only one to date where I’ve had the good fortune of a good nebbia), I can remember sneaking out before sunrise – so as not to wake my still slumbering travel companion – and emerging into another world. The bank of fog that had rolled in overnight was so thick you couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead, but as the sun rose it started to melt away like so much cotton candy you’d hoped would last forever and before I knew it there was only blue sky and not a hint of the titillating mystery that had shrouded the city only a short while before.

{Paris: Sophisticated ladies / Door detail}

how do you prepare for a trip?
Well in advance. Often years in advance. I’m always high-level plotting some escape or other, while firming up plans for that one up next. Right before a big trip, I type up a little custom “guidebook” with all the pertinent details – flight info, hotel info, emergency contact info, daily budget, list of cities and specific sites I’m hoping to day trip to and how to get there, admission prices, days/hours of operation, etc. But the fun part of perpetual planning (or plotting), I think, is surfing around a regional map on Google from the comfort of home and looking up photos of interesting-sounding cities online. If I find a single snap that inspires, the city gets added to my list of must-see sites. That’s precisely how I’ve discovered some of my favorite places, like Camogli, Italy and Kotor,Montenegro.

{Paris: Fontaine des mers / Venice: Campanile gate detail (using lensbaby) }

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
Photos. Lots and lots of photos.

{Versailles: Marie Antoinette at the Petite Trianon / Hawaii: Maui souvenir}

{Paris: Colorful church door}

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Architectural details. Buildings, doors, windows, graffiti on buildings, doors, windows …

{Paris: Reflections of the Marais/ Budapest: Fisherman’s bastion reflection}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Thousands!

{Paris: Leo Pipo graffiti / Vienna: Door}

{Montenegro: Green church door / Paris: I’d like to live here just for the front door}

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
I don’t go anywhere overseas without my Nikon D90 and my favorite lens – the Lensbaby Composer.

{Venice: Grand Canal (using lensbaby) / }

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
Coming home is nearly as much fun as getting the heck outta Dodge. Before the jet lag has worn away, I immediately start to process photos, selecting a few favorites to work with right off the bat (after that, processing the rest typically takes me years to ever *truly* finish – literally). Then I blog about the trip, make prints, handmade books, and other fun stuff for friends, family, and my various ventures. Right now I’m really digging the production of my own post-trip postcards through Moo and sending those out (I’m terrible about buying and mailing postcards while I’m actually away).

{Paris: Eiffel Tower on a perfect Paris day / Mini Moo cards}

{The late Franco Mazzucco Venetian Silversmith with a gift he made for me / Venice: glass beaded necklace souvenir}

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
Maps, stamps, and other ephemera. But mostly artwork or handmade jewelry crafted locally (which also qualifies as art, incidentally). I have so many prized pieces acquired abroad, but my favorite (at the moment) is an incredible one-of-a-kind necklace of by Murano glass artist Barbara Proverbio. None of that mass-produced madness made in China for me. Sometimes, sadly, finding work by local artisans is a challenge. It certainly was in both Budapest and Dubrovnik in 2006. With skyrocketing prices to rent or buy space in major tourist destinations like Dubrovnik, artists couldn’t afford to live and work in these ideal areas. So, much of what was on sale was plastic crap made in Asia.

{Venice: friendly cat}

describe your “dream trip”:
A yearlong journey to each of the former outposts of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. At one time, Venice controlled territory from coastal Croatia to Crete to Constantinople and countless crannies in between. Venice was no joke.

{Paris: Looks like a perfect life from where I stand}

website: marisawilliams.com
blog: risamay.blogspot.com
etsy shop: risamay.etsy.com
flickr: flickr.com/photos/risamay

Boarding Pass is a weekly column exploring the creative ways people travel. Check out the list of participants listed on the righthand column.

9 comments

  • Great photographs and interview! And I agree about the tour groups – I would hate to have my travels be that dictated by someone else…
    (And I really really like the purple church door! Which church is it, do you know?)

    windeater.blogspot.com

  • Thank you for the interview, Anne! It was an honor. And a lot of fun.

    Bronwyn: The church with the purple door is St Etienne du Mont, just behind the Panthéon and directly across the street from The Bombardier, a popular Irish pub.

  • I’ve been following Marisa’s work for a while. She’s got a fantastic eye! My favorite photo from this article is of Piazza San Marco. It has everything- sky, water, clouds, St. Mark’s and even pigeons- what more could you ask for? Well, other than being there.

  • Thanks for the information on Paris..I totally agree with you that Paris is a wonderful place and tourist love to enjoy there vacations over there..I had been there twice and each time it was great to be there..Which is the best part for you over there? Mine is shopping…