In Marina Ferrara’s artistic journey, instant photography becomes more than just a means of capturing moments; it transforms into a profound exploration of self and a visual narrative of the world around her. Born out of her childhood fascination with analogue photography in Naples, Italy, Marina’s artistic evolution is distinguished not solely by technical expertise but also with an inquisitive approach to her craft.

Her path unfolded as she moved to Venice, Italy, where she immersed herself in the study of Economics in Art and dedicated several years to refining her skills at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This move marked a significant chapter in Marina’s artistic development.

Nowadays, especially post-pandemic, Marina longs to reconnect with the physical world. She often roams the streets with her vintage Land cameras and turns ordinary moments into something tangible. Her use of Polaroid film is not arbitrary, but serves as beautiful metaphor for life’s transience, where moments, just like the images she captures, continually change, transform, and eventually disappear.

Influenced by narrative art and the poetry, Marina is not just a photographer, but also a visual artist and storyteller. This is especially evident in her “Tableaux” series, where she skilfully combines magazine cutouts and transfigured poetry with Polaroids, weaving together powerful anecdotes with strong female characters. The infusion of indigenous stories and Clarissa Pinkola’s interpretation of the Wild Women myth adds layers of depth and meaning to each photograph, offering up a unique blend of visual and literary artistry.

Marina continues to ask questions and discover insights as she delves into the complexities of human relationships in her “Spectra Dreams” collection. This series was shot in an abandoned lido and explores the themes of deceptive love, isolation and loneliness.

Furthermore, Marina continues to explore the fleeting nature of relationships as she celebrates the end of love in her “Forbidden Sea” images. The title is a direct reference to the famous Bulgarian poet, Blaga Dimitrova’s influential works by the same name, and references her own journey visiting the Black Sea in Bulgaria. With these photographs, Marina speaks to the soul as she marries each Polaroid with Dimitrova’s inspirational words.

In her “Dreaming Tracks” series, inspired by the invisible pathways and Aboriginal traditions outlined in The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, Marina dives deeper into the theme of human connection and recollections. She pairs together images with poetry, stories, and audio recordings that she’s gathered throughout her time abroad. Shot entirely on expired film, the faded hues and imperfections in these Polaroids transport you into a dreamy, surrealistic world. Marina’s deliberate use of expired film is also a direct reflection upon her willingness to embrace the unpredictable, relinquish control, and bring forth her own interpretations.

In today’s rapid-fire digital world, Marina finds solace in her mindful approach where she carefully considers each shot, often taking only one or two images in any given place. Her selective eye and artistic bounds go against Lomography’s popular motto, “Don’t think just shoot.” As she travels the globe, she often skips the historical landmarks and turns her lens towards the minute details instead, focusing on the subtly of mood and emotion.

As Marina travels, it’s as though the stories find her and not the other way around. A beautiful example of this is her “No Place Like Home” series. On a road trip through the mountainous region of Cilento in Southern Italy, Marina stumbled across this project as she began to meet the locals, many of which are emigrants who returned back to this region after many decades abroad. This documentary series is a multimedia project that captures the faces, stories, and voices of the last inhabitants in this disappearing society and will come to publication sometime next year.

In another project, “I am a clown… and I collect moments,” Marina revisits her Polaroids and pieces together images, creating a photographic diary that memorialises many significant moments throughout her adventures abroad. These photos are not only a road map of where she’s been, but also a coming-of-age story that highlights the people and places that have shaped her into who she is today.

Additionally, Marina continues to explore herself in the context of her family history as she converts her family archive from slide film into instant photos using the Polaroid Lab. This project is especially enticing as it presents an opportunity for creative manipulation and experimentation.

But her curiosity and yearning for storytelling doesn’t end there. Marina has also begun to unravel the mysterious stories of strangers from an abandoned photo album she purchased at a flea market in Turkey. Her plan is to breathe new life into these forgotten memories by converting the images into cyanotypes and pairing them with her written interpretations.

Storytelling is the heartbeat of Marina’s work and with each frame, she invites you to embark on a journey of introspection and discovery, illuminating the profound beauty found within life’s fleeting moments.

To find out more about Marina Ferrara and her artistic works, visit her profile on Grainery or follow her on Instagram @polaroidstorytelling.