Through her Lens: Marissa Pavorsky Travels the World to Perfect her Craft

A street artist performs for a busy street in Hongdae, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. / Photo via Marissa Pavorsky

In the winter of 2022, senior Marissa Pavorsky traveled to Seoul, South Korea armed with a Pentax K1000 film camera and several rolls of film to study abroad. Determined to learn the ropes of a film camera, which was recommended by Rowan Professor Jenny Drumgoole, she carefully packed everything into her carry-on. 

Anxious to start her film journey, Pavorsky googled the dangers of the security scanner ruining undeveloped film and made sure to have a TSA agent check her inventory instead. Upon her arrival, she was required to complete a week-long quarantine. 

Cooped up in a tiny dorm with her roommate, she pulled out her camera and captured the gorgeous snowfall that reluctantly arrived at the same time as herself. 

“I try to capture simple moments that I find are really special. It sounds pretentious but I think humans are more similar than we think,” Pavorsky said. 

Ever since she was a little kid, her family expressed the importance of taking photos and having a camera around the house. Her camera journey – from a tiny Olympus point-and-shoot to a more sophisticated Canon camera and then to a DSLR in high school – allowed her to get familiar with the idea of freezing a moment in time. For practice, she would often get together with her friends and take photos that they considered “artsy” at the time. 

With courses offered on campus such as photojournalism, digital photography and film photography, Pavorsky was able to learn about her work and how to improve it no matter the criticism. 

In fact, she is keen on constructive criticism; she finds the student critiques from her various photography classes to be incredibly influential. She details the comments of Professor Chad States and how his brutal honesty was something she really valued and appreciated. 

“I don’t think my perfectionism hinders my work,” Pavorsky said. “I set high standards for myself. I think it assists my art-making and creative passions.” 

Grasping the concepts of ISO, aperture and shutter speed is like learning a new language, according to Pavorsky. She thoroughly enjoys taking portraits, “getting a real human being in the frame” and often takes photos for projects at Rowan University. 

She photographed Prism’s “Sex Toy Bingo” last semester and she’s sure to make her subjects feel as comfortable as possible as it will translate into the results.

When Pavorsky’s taking portraits, she likes to use a small depth of field and a large aperture to capture that kind of dreamy feel where the background is blurry and the person is the focal point of the photo.

A young man reads while relaxing in Yeouido Hangang Park in Seoul, South Korea. / Photo via Marissa Pavorsky

As for artistry inspirations, Pavorsky takes inspiration from various artists ranging from 76ers photographer Alex Subers to Seoul photographer Lindsay Ryklief. 

A 76ers fan herself, Pavorsky appreciates how Subers illustrates stories through the team within their work. As for Ryklief, she’s amazed at how they portray what masculinity is like within different parts of the world through photographing young men in Seoul. 

Pavorsky is extremely fond of Cho Gi-Seok’s photograph entitled “These Days,” where a couple is embracing, yet they aren’t in each other’s eyeliner. Instead, they’re focused on their cellphones behind one another’s back. Aside from them, she obsesses over album concepts and artwork, including Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Frank Ocean’s “Blond.”

While she was studying in Seoul, she frequented Film Log, a chain photo processing store. In addition to learning about her craft, she also learned that photo development is much cheaper and quicker in other parts of the world than it is in the drug stores of the Philadelphia area. In Film Log there is even a nifty vending machine that serves disposable cameras and rolls of film. 

At Korea University, Pavorsky completed portraits of fellow students. The rest of her trip is cataloged through her Instagram and demonstrates a walkthrough of her life in different cities including Busan, Gyeongju-si, and Jeju-do Island. 

A delicate hand cradles a few cherry blossom flowers. / Photo via Marissa Pavorsky

Pavorsky has been home since July 6 and she was just able to retrieve her final roll from her trip to Seoul. It’s flooded with memories of the friends she made, her roommates, cities she’s traveled and the delicious food she consumed. 

“It was a bittersweet feeling,” Pavorsky said.

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