In 2019, Marina Comes was chosen by Forbes as one of the Best Influencers in the world of travel instagramers. This influencer from Tarragona, she went in 2017 from working as a commercial lawyer to dedicate herself to her two passions: photography and travel. In this interview, MagasIN discovers who the celebrated influencer is in 10 trips that have marked her life: from her hometown to the most exotic places she has visited and the secrets of her viral success after a change of career. race.
1. Childhood in Tarragona
When she was eight years old, Marina Comes was given her first camera. “I would carry her around to whatever we did,” she recalls. "And when she played dolls, she didn't play babies, she played that dolls traveled and worked and had grown-up lives, many times my dolls lived in the United States and spoke several languages," she jokes.
She believes that, when you were born in a place of the sea, that feeling haunts you all your life. “The Mediterranean represents my roots”. For her, Tarragona is synonymous with “my family. It is a beautiful city by the sea, small, easy, with Roman ruins and beautiful beaches. And then the whole province is spectacular, I did a campaign last year, discovering many places”. And she goes on to tell about the virtues of the Montsant mountains and the Priorat wines. “Or L'Ametlla de Mar, in the lower Ebro, a little-known fishing village with its nearby coves, reminiscent of those of the Balearic Islands”.
2. Trento or northern Italy
Marina Comes was born and lived in Tarragona, also during her university days. “I left this city for the first time when I won the Erasmus scholarship and went to Italy when I was 21 years old. I was obsessed with learning Italian because it seemed like a language that sounded so nice… The only place that had a chance was Trento, which is in the north near Austria and a lot of German is spoken, so it was an area that was hardly Italy, ”she jokes .
However, she traveled the country, from the mountains of the Dolomites, near Trento, to places like an inexhaustible Rome, the city that never stops visiting, and Florence, with her artistic heritage. For her, "a trip depends a lot on who you do it with, and on the ability you have to establish human relationships with the truth of the place, to be able to interact and live authentic experiences".
3. Leuven or student life
“It was tougher. I went to Belgium to study a Master of Laws with some very strict professors, it was a very academic experience and although it was a very prestigious university, one of the best in the world, and I had a scholarship from the European Union, perhaps I was already realizing that the Law was not my thing. Leuven is an international city on two rivers, in the style of Salamanca, with thousands of students from all over the world living there. I was there for a year and I said 'I have to find a life'“.
4. Barcelona or the vital change
In Barcelona, for Comes, “there is a lot of feeling: that you are only there to work during the week and you really want to go away on Friday. I set a limit on being from that city when you feel like staying for the weekend as well”. For her, Barcelona is “a great small city, where it is easy to get around. On many trips, exactly what I look for is the opposite, being in the middle of nowhere”. In this city, she loves "walking the streets, eating delicious food and being near the sea."
In Barcelona, she began to work in a large office. “It was like a slap in the face, I had a lot of control over studying, but the world of big law firms is very competitive and I, at 23 years old, didn't feel in line with that energy”. From there this Catalan went to an international company, Puig, where she began to work in the legal department, "certainly a very glamorous perfume and fashion company, and that stage was better, but she felt that something was missing."
In parallel, she was always “traveling a lot with my friends, with my boyfriend, planning getaways and different trips. Making trillions of photos, like I do now, but no one saw them, I kept them in a drawer. It would be in September 2015 when a colleague told her that her photos were "very magical" and she decided to post them on the new social network called Instagram to create a repository, as a hobby. “I thought, this is how my two passions, photography and traveling, are united.” In 2016, after leaving Puig "I decided to take half a sabbatical year, travel and think carefully about the next step, then incredible things began to happen".
5. The viral photo of Chefchaouen
Marina Comes had actually been to North Africa before, so there was nothing to predict what would happen. “It is a destination that I love, but I had never been to the Chefchaouen area. We organized a four-day trip, with flights to Tangier and the help of a local guide. I was already growing in followers on Instagram, but nothing to do with it now. The fact is that I take some photos that are very simple, me in a white dress on those blue streets. Suddenly, those photos went viral.”
Comes clarifies that at that time the concept of influencer did not yet exist. "Instagram was a smaller community," she recalls, "and those photos weren't thought out, they weren't really framed or angled, but they worked." For her, it may have been precisely due to the lack of pretensions, to “simplicity, the chromatic point, blue is a very attractive color… the algorithm is even said to favor it. So I entered a wheel to win 10,000 followers a month and that lasted a year and a bit.
Back then, Ella Comes still “didn't have the feeling that one day I could get on a train for free, that I would be paid to go visit certain places and contribute my vision, I couldn't imagine it. I just wanted to convey something human and personal that connected with my present. Since I come out with my face turned away, perhaps those photos conveyed the idea that anyone could be walking down that street and transported them to the precise place, to what it must be like to be there at that moment.”
6. The water of Lake Blausse
How to replicate that virality in other places? “In Switzerland it happened to me with two photos, at Lake Blausse, a small fairytale lake with waters of greenish blue tones, she repeated herself. Now, over time, I have seen many girls taking the same photo that I took that day and wearing the same clothes, which was my husband's plaid shirt, because he had no more clothes. All these women emulating what happened that day never ceases to impact me."
Comes explains that many of the photos shared on her account were shot by her husband, sister, mother, friends or travel companions, or ended up being done thanks to a self-timer. But she always decides what the photo is like, how it should be executed.
7. Invited to Seychelles and Mauritius
“Since Blausse, with a certain volume of followers already, companies in the travel sector, tourist offices began to contact me… I still didn't have a large salary but I made a bet that I told my husband: 'Look, this year I live off my savings and we will see if this is liked and if I am able to start doing it professionally'”.
And so she happily did a little over six years ago. In a short time, she recounts how invitations to luxury destinations began to arrive. "I remember my husband telling me, when they still didn't pay me for the work, they only invited me: 'How strong, leaving us the salaries to be able to come to these places and now they invite us'...", referring to some of the most impressive hotels of the planet in the paradisiacal beaches of the islands of the Indian Ocean, for example.
And, little by little, also paid campaigns. "Switzerland has been a great client, it was a magical place because that's where those photos came from and as a result of that they contacted me for campaigns." He agrees that this job is complex because it involves, in addition to knowledge of travel and photography, becoming "expert in social media marketing, content creation, recent updates...".
Although her future was questioned from the outside, Comes is brave and categorical: "I have never needed to have all the answers in life to make a decision, based on what I know, I will decide what I consider best and I will always take the learning and experiences. You never know what the true future is."
8. A Catalan in the East
In successive trips, Comes was able to visit these countries. For her, “the emotional part and sensations are very important in a trip. I love the visual appeal of a place, but I also get a lot from the sensations of what comes up, of the people.”
On a visual level, she was very impressed by China, “but I lacked a lot of connection with the people. On the other hand, on my tours of Japan, it was much easier for me to achieve context and connection. It is that point of sensitivity that a seventy-year-old couple who only spoke Japanese, but wanted to help me, showed me, or the care that I saw in respect for nature.”
Comes explains that the first campaign she did for the promotion of Singapore, when she had only been there for a short time, she had to do it herself, “traveling one hundred percent alone. In this new stage it was the first time that I understood that this was a real job, mine and my tripod. I remember that trip not as the most fun at the destination level, but very empowering: the confirmation trip that this was not a hobby.
9. Namibia, favorite destination
Trips and destinations that you love, even more now that we are looking forward to doing it, is a question that you often receive, but I would certainly highlight “Namibia, where we even honeymooned in a 4x4: it is an incredible destination, with thousands of landscapes in a country. It is on the other side of the world for us and it contains all the adventure and it is also safe.
She also loves Morocco “because of everything that was from the first time I was there and because of the prejudices that changed us as the days went by, about the usual clichés. If you have your feet on the ground, I think you have to learn a basic lesson when you travel, that in the end all human beings are the same, we care the same and we are happy the same, no matter how much the media sometimes insist on showing us different " .
10. Landscapes of the future
Comes loves “getting out of the car and not seeing anyone: I love these feelings on trips. The little inhabited places, where you arrive with your car and you have no one around, where you can start screaming and there is no one”.
Iceland is "an incredible trip that for us from here is not so difficult and that gives access to some amazing landscapes". And, as a pending trip, something difficult to answer in her case, it would be New Zealand, "the exoticism of the other side of the world, I think that nothing has comparison with the landscapes that nature offers, don't you think?"