839 and counting

Marquette native photographs the world

This is Cabo da Roca, Portugal, one of the exotic places Sean Marier has visited. The professional photographer is a Marquette native. (Photo courtesy of Sean Marier)

MARQUETTE — From Mexico City to Hanoi to Venice, photographer Sean Marier has visually documented some of the world’s most exotic spots.

The Marquette native is visiting the area, taking pictures of sights unique to Marquette, such as its lighthouse and St. Peter Cathedral.

However, he’s taken photographs from all over the world, such as the Portugal coast, Paris and Bulgaria.

Marier initially was able to see the world through a program called Remote Year, a company that facilitates travel and accommodations for people working remotely.

“They basically take groups of people who have jobs that they are geographically flexible — they can do that from anywhere — and they travel the world, a different city every month,” Marier said.

Pictured is Hanoi. (Photo courtesy of Sean Marier)

It was a good fit.

“I’ve always liked traveling, but I never really realized that I could do it while working,” he said.

Being a photographer and a freelance public relations specialist, he’s in fields suited to that type of lifestyle.

His company is 839 Photography; he was 8 years old when he received his first camera and 39 when he sold his first photograph.

In the last two years, Marier has visited places such as Croatia, Prague and Lisbon. For him, Sofia, Bulgaria was a standout, being surrounded by mountains.

Pictured is Venice (Photo courtesy of Sean Marier)

“Most people don’t even know it really exists,” he said.

For the past 6¢ months before coming back to town, he’d been living on his own in Mexico City.

“It’s a big enough city that I can find work,” Marier said. “It’s in the U.S. time zone, so when I’m doing some freelance, like P.R., work and things like that, it’s easier as opposed to when you’re in Asia where you have to do everything on the opposite time schedule.”

Time zone aside, when he’s visited major cities, Marier has tried to explore the natural environment as much as possible.

Lisbon, for example, has a beautiful rocky beach.

Other parts of Europe hold an outdoorsy charm for him.

“When you’re in Sofia, it’s all surrounded by mountains, so there’s tons of great hiking and forests,” Marier said. “It’s very similar to here, actually, from a nature perspective.

“When you’re in Vietnam, you get out into the rice paddies and you get into the small little villages, which is incredible.”

Mexico as a country has a special appeal for him, even out of Mexico City.

“If you leave and you get out into the mountains or the small villages, there’s a lot of really great hiking and dormant volcanoes and things like that as well,” Marier said.

Of the places he’s traveled, though, Mexico City remains his favorite place to live, and considers it his travel hub where he plans to spend four or five months of the year moving forward.

Vietnam is his favorite place to visit, and the United States’ military presence in the country during the Vietnam War hasn’t been much of a hindrance.

“As far as political things specific with Americans, there’s not really any residue there,” Marier said. “They’re super kind and friendly.”

Even though Marier is well traveled, there still are places he wants to see, and, of course, they’re exotic in nature.

At the top of his list is Africa, taking a multi-month traverse across the continent in a truck and stopping at the different game reserves as well as Cape Town, South Africa.

Marier said he’s been putting off this trip until he has “a better camera or more lenses,” but in the meantime, an African trip remains his dream.

Heading south is a distinct possibility as well.

He acknowledges having a “minor obsession” with penguins, which means traveling to Antarctica or parts of South America is in order.

Marier wants to travel “up” too.

“I’d like to do more mountain-specific stuff like the Canadian Rockies and Nepal, places like that,” Marier said. “The places that I’ve gone that have had mountains, it’s been more ‘forest-y’ sort of mountains.”

He wants to visit Cuba, even though there are infrastructure issues such as internet reliability.

“It’s sort of this beautiful blast from the past,” Marier said. “It’s literally the 1950s down there right now, but as a photographer, it’d be amazing to go there. But as somebody that does remote work like I do, that would be hard.”

On his list of places to avoid is North Korea, not that he would be let in anyway.

Marier also would hesitate going to Venezuela, which has a currently challenging political climate.

Being close to home in Marquette, though, doesn’t present these types of challenges.

Marier’s favorite scenic Marquette spots are Presque Isle Park, the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, both upper and lower harbors, and Sugarloaf Mountain.

He’s familiar with these Upper Peninsula places, but foreign places are just that: foreign.

Marier, however, takes the proper precautions.

“If I’m out exploring, usually I won’t go by myself,” he said. “I’ll go with a local or somebody that sort of knows what they’re doing or where they’re going.”

Taking reasonable chances, though, helps him capture images of beautiful architecture in Istanbul, an elephant in Thailand and other scenes most people won’t ever see.

Marier’s website is www.839photo.com. He also is on Facebook and at www.instagram.com/839photo.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.