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Meet Marielle Echavez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marielle Echavez.

Hi Marielle, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My photography and videography journey started with growing up with parents who were always taking photos and videos to capture our childhood memories. I won’t say that I have always had a love for photography, but I have always had a passion for being creative and capturing moments so that I could have them to look back on in the future.

I have always been a sentimental person, saving memories from every trip, every experience, every milestone… and now here I am being able to do just that for other people as a career. Backtracking a bit, I majored in Communication at the University of TN at Chattanooga with the idea of going into the film and media world while having a BA in Communication to fall back onto any other jobs. I took a random leap of faith to start taking photojournalism classes which is where I truly fell in love with visual storytelling. I dived into the media world head-first. I was a staff writer and staff photographer for the University Echo.

I was also a videographer and the Editor-In-Chief for Rising Rock Media which is an online publication run by UTC students documenting stories in Chattanooga. During my last semester with Rising Rock in 2020, I am proud to say that led Rising Rock to win the most AP Awards won by any college in Tennessee. So now here I am, about a year and a half out of college, and I am now a videographer for my alma mater while also pursuing freelance work for my business Marielle Jai Media across TN and surrounding areas.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The pandemic took away the end of my senior year in college, so it was really hard not being able to finish the projects we’d been working on all year. I had an internship doing external relations for an animal center, and it was also cut short because of the pandemic. On top of graduating during the beginning of quarantine in 2020, it seemed impossible for me to find a job.

I didn’t get accepted for any of the jobs I’d applied for simply because I didn’t have extensive work experience, even though I was involved with many different media organizations in the college. This pushed me to pursue more freelance work, and even though it was hard, I wouldn’t have had the time to really hone in on my craft to be where I am today with my work.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I do both photography and videography. Aside from my work as the videographer for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, my main clients are seniors, creative portraits, couples, weddings, and political campaigns. I think what sets me apart from others is that I indulge in diversity.

Most people stick to a color scale, but I like to keep colors soft and vibrant with a filmy, nostalgic feel that is unique to each session and each person. As an Asian woman, it is also a huge priority of mine to represent diversity on my page, and with that, my feed steers away from a type of consistent “aesthetic.”

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I really lucked out with great professors and friends during my college career. Many of my first clients were friends who trusted me to take their photos and professors who saw the value in my work before I even thought to pursue photo and video on my own.

I once dreamed of working under some of the biggest and coolest companies, and now my biggest dream is to live on the road and pursue photo and video on my own.

One thing that I’ve noticed after a couple of years of doing this is that word of mouth is the biggest factor in finding clients, and my friends and professors planted that seed of encouragement and support in my work in order for me to get where I am today.

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