Quick & Quirky Questions with Marianna Armata

Marianna Armata was raised in Poland when Brezhnev and Nixon were in power. She became an instant illiterate in both English and French the day she landed in Montréal at the age of twelve. Communication, by any method, became a critical skill she never abandoned. She has preferred the visual method since that life-turning moment.

Marianna graduated with honours from Concordia (and McGill) University and has retired from her 37-year-long career as a professional graphic designer to pursue her passion for photography.

Marianna is an international award-winning photographer whose work has been published in Canadian Geographic, Photo Life, Photo News, Popular Photography, DSLR Magazine, Communication Arts, World Wildlife Foundation, and Herzstuck. She has been awarded 8 medals by the Canadian Association for Photographic Arts and honoured by the Lakeshore Camera Club as their Photographer of the Year for several years running. She enjoys macro and innovative conceptual photography and loves to challenge herself to capture and create something new and original every day.

Tell us 4 important facts about yourself: 

  1. I was raised in Poland until the age of 12, when I emigrated to Canada. Being newly illiterate overnight, I learned to absorb language (English and French) and information through osmosis rather than through formal instruction and have continued to do so for the rest of my life. 
  2. I’m completely self-taught in photography and have enjoyed the process tremendously. I consider it a good day if I have learned or produced something new. 
  3. Although I appreciate the grand landscapes and wildlife photography, I prefer to create unique images from concept to finish. My 37-year career as a professional graphic designer and creative director may have something to do with it. Perhaps because I’m slightly myopic, I focus on the small stuff: macros, which by definition are tiny subjects, close to my nose. 
  4. I am most at home in the woods. A day spent foraging for mushrooms or nature’s offerings, with or without a camera, is a day spent in a Zen moment. I come home exhausted with happiness. 

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why? 

When I was 22. I finished my Fine Arts degree and was hired by one of the best ad agencies in Montreal and I got my own apartment on the 14th floor of a building right in the heart of the city. After living in a small house in suburbia, I finally felt free of its confines and dreadful commutes. I felt like I was on top of the world and enjoyed the excitement of the city tremendously. 

Also, 59, when I retired. My husband and I love to travel and discover Canada’s incredible beauty and my retirement allowed me to do so for long stretches of time without making excuses to my clients. It was the beginning of another type of freedom which I still relish every summer. 

Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60? 

My favourite famous person over 60 is Meryl Streep. I admire her incredible devotion to her art, the amount of preparation she goes through to study her character for each movie, learning languages and accents, her poise and intelligence, her absolute dedication to her profession. 

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you? 

I would grab my external hard drives which contain my 10 years-worth of digital photo files and are irreplaceable. 

What’s your favourite creative pastime? 

Taking my macro lens for a walk and editing my photos in the evenings while listening to music are my most enjoyable pastimes. 

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected. 

I have a twin sister and we are polar opposites in every respect. I’m the artistically inclined one while she’s a scientist working for Canadian National Defence. I’m tone-deaf while she’s an excellent flautist. Celebrate the difference, I say!

Our monthly flash theme for January is New Year, New Hobbies.

Are you taking up a new hobby, interest or project this year? If so, we’d love you to tell us about it. Our special focus this month is on photography as a new project, so please either send us a recent photograph you’ve taken as part of a new photography hobby, or send us a flash submission (350 words or less) telling us about your new hobby or venture with an accompanying photo. The flash submission can take the form of a poem, short memoir, anecdote or story, but MUST be accompanied by a relevant photo.

Entries are free and close at midnight on January 31st and we’ll choose our favourites from the submissions in early February. The winner will receive a copy of the Poetry of Entanglement book produced by our January bloggers, Tom Langlands and Marianna Armatta, and the runner-up will receive a Poetry Of Entanglement calendar.

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