Well-Traveled: Marisa Hampe
Photo by @kolkrabenjan
Photographer and content creator Marisa Hampe work is dark, moody, and visually arresting. In a world of staged and saccharine images, Hampe showcases a raw and beautiful aesthetic from places like Thailand, the Bahamas, and her native Germany. On top of her daring style, Hampe is also a true daredevil, you can frequently find her perched on cliffs and traversing narrow mountain ridges in her photos. As someone who’s very scared of heights her images have given me heart palpitations on more than one occasion when I browsed her Instagram. I caught up with Hampe to find out more about her photography and how she gets some of her out of this world shots.
How did your Instagram account start? When did you go from running an account for fun to it being a business?
Marisa Hampe: I created my Instagram account in 2012 as I wanted to share my illustrations and paintings with other artists. I really enjoyed receiving feedback for my work because it helped me improve my skills, and I also enjoyed the social interactions. I had also developed a passion for photographing abandoned places in Berlin. In 2014, Instagram noticed and requested me to lead a photo walk for Instagrammers through Berlin. Over 200 people were invited. From then on I wasn’t just sharing my passion online but also began to meet other creators like me in real life. The positive feedback encouraged me to document something I’ve always loved — traveling. My focus wasn’t on urban landscapes anymore and I started to feel more drawn to nature. The more comfortable I felt with what I was doing the more the people recognized my passion so I started receiving collaboration requests from cool brands. It was not a sudden switch from fun to business but a process that’s still going on. Today I would describe it as a good balance between my own travels/projects and professional collaborations, but everything’s still really fun — I hope that will always be the foundation of my work.
How do you select the destinations you travel to?
I get inspired by cool photographers, bloggers, and creative colleagues but I’m also trying to realize my own childhood dreams. Of course, I follow Instagram which sets many trends, but of course, you have to go your own way as well. I’m always looking for places far off away from mainstream tourism and locales that are not so easy to find. However, if I’m invited to work in a popular and well-known place the rule is: re-interpret the place and create something that surprises people.
What’s your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?
That’s a difficult question because each photo tells its own individual story. Here’s a photo from a recent trip, for example. Sometimes you don’t have to fly 12 hours around the globe to take a cool picture because sometimes there’s magic waiting around the corner. My friend and I created a piece of heaven on earth in Harz National Park, Germany.
Photo by @muenchmax
One of the most impressive things about your photos is how you manage to interact with wildlife and nature. What are some tips to capture nature well?
Try to find hidden lines in nature and bring them out with your personal capture and edit. You can, for example, use the outline of a mountain to frame a person. Nature offers a lot of scope for creativity, you just have to open your eyes. The poses make a lot of difference. They can be extravagant, like here for example. Just avoid the typical family portrait pose in front of a touristic sight — the important thing is to feel comfortable and be natural.
You take a lot of images on the edges of cliffs and on mountain tops, are you ever afraid up there or do you have 0 fear of heights? Is there anything you get nervous about?
I’m an adrenaline junkie indeed. I love climbing, hiking, diving and feeling the adrenaline running through my veins but sometimes when I look at photos after, I also wonder, “how did I dare to do that?” When I’m climbing, I’m wearing blinders and I’m focused on getting the best photo. I’m always careful and mindful though, watching out. My heart aches when I hear about accidents during shoots. And I hope that everyone who feels inspired by me to stand on the edge of a cliff keeps in mind I’m really careful and always paying attention. Accidents happen everywhere and I would rather die on the edge of a waterfall than at home while changing a lightbulb. This may sound harsh, but when I’m on a cliff and I’m feeling the adrenaline, it makes me feel alive. But I avoid doing these daring climbs when it rains or when it’s too windy, and I feel that I have no control over the situation.
What are some of your favorite hotels and destinations you’ve visited? Why?
I love authentic accommodations where I can feel the culture of a country. I would prefer a room without air conditioning over a run-of-the-mill luxury resort because I enjoy authentic simplicity. Especially since I spend most of the time outside exploring and max five hours in the hotel to sleep, I only value the good atmosphere of an accommodation. I love Jamaica and its energy. People are spreading love all the time, and I realized while traveling through so many countries that the less people have, the more they tend to give. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than immersing myself into new cultures and getting to know people who live differently than I do. In such a fast-paced world, these places help me to leave familiar paths, and help me to see things from new perspectives. I just went to Madeira and I’m still impressed by the fascinating landscape and nature. I have definitely left a part of my heart in Kenya, the Bahamas, and actually, in all of the places I have been to.
What are your favorite beauty products to bring on the road?
I wear almost no makeup. A lipstick can lose its way into my bag but I really keep it simple. The only thing you can find in my beauty bag is a Catrice eyebrow pencil and some Dalton sunblock.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
There are a lot of things in my life that went wrong and things I have to struggle with that would probably surprise you. Everyone has their story to tell and I prefer to express these kinds of things with my photos rather than in words.
Where are you off to next?
I was booked last-minute for a job in Bali this week and after that I’m heading to a job in Morocco. After I’ll stay around and cruise around this fascinating country. I can’t wait to go off on a self-organized road trip after my work is done. As I mentioned before, these are the kind of childhood dreams I’m still trying to realize, so later this year, I’m planning to travel to China. I’m looking forward to staying a bit longer than I usually do as China is obviously a massive place and I would really like to discover as many places and go on as many adventures as possible. Nature and the country’s landscape appear to be simply spectacular and I’m also super fascinated by the culture. I expect it to be quite different from the places that I’ve been to so far. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but I am so ready for it. There’s also a personal element to it. My mom’s parents are of Chinese descent and have lived in Thailand for generations. I’m really curious to find out a bit more about my roots and to see what I can rediscover inside myself. I’m eternally grateful to be able to do what I do and I want to continue to travel and to be open to whatever opportunities present themselves.
See more of Marisa Hampe and her photography here
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