Meet Marvin Sandoval, Cinematographer and Photographer
The “Passport to People” interview series features inspiring, creative souls I’ve met while traveling.
Meet Marvin Sandoval, a first generation Guatemalan-American, from Waltham, Massachusetts, runs the creative enterprise, Media by Marvin.
During my college years attending the most diverse public university in New England, I was introduced to a really admirable crew of hard workers and dreamers. One of those people was Marvin Sandoval. His visual repertoire in areas of cinematography, videography, and photography, exhibits a strong appreciation for the places he loves. 9-to-5, he works as an Assistant Director of Social Media for a local college. All the hours in between, Media by Marvin is his passion project. On top of wedding shoots, editing footage, and roaming the streets of Boston with other creatives—and traveling!,—he also runs a self-help podcast called CINEMANIA. The podcast is aimed at creative entrepreneurs looking to launch their own businesses with new episodes posted every Wednesday. I honestly don’t know how Marvin has time to everything but I have admired his relentless hunt for the most basic American principles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Watching him find his footing in life and grow into this incredibly gifted storyteller has been such a privilege as a friend.
Q: Hi Marvin! Your videography on my social media feed has stood out to me for a long time now. What do you think sets you apart from other artists?
My storytelling, workflow, and colors are very dialed in. I am lucky to have a great eye for capturing the “right moments” for storytelling. I work very efficiently and usually have a picture of how the video will be told, so I can turn my work around incredibly quickly. I have been able to turn videos in a day’s time, but that is rare, as it usually takes a week. For photography, it has been my colors and workflow as well. I have spent a lot of time color grading on videos and composition which translates very easily into my photography.
Q: How did you even find get on this artistic path in the first place?
I went to my brother’s Powerlifting competition and I saw him vlogging for his Youtube channel. I thought, why not try it, so I started filming using my iPhone 6. A couple months go by and I purchase a Canon t6i. I fell in love with filming and editing—I never got into photography.
Two years go by and I got promoted to the position I hold now at Merrimack College, then I started to dabble in photography. I have only been doing photography for about year now and cinematography professionally for about a year and a half. It went from a hobby to a full-time job. It only took 330+ YouTube videos + client videos.
Q: How would you describe your artistic style?
Recently, a lot of people have been using the term “moody,” which kinda makes sense with my music taste. But I really think my style varies from day-to-day. My colors tend change based on how I’m feeling or going through. But I am not afraid to switch it up and bring in bright, fun colors and go with a more lush feel for couples and weddings.
Q: What’s a place that you’ve connected to on an artistic level?
Last year, I spent a week in California and I think it was one of the most unique and fun places to film/take photos. I absolutely love the vibe of the culture in San Diego, the weather was perfect and the variety in environment. I could see myself living there one day.
Q: What’s a song that puts you in the traveling mood?
The Rock Show by Blink 182.
Q: While traveling, has there ever been a moment that has left an imprint on your soul?
I can’t forget my time in Mexico last May. This was the first time I was on an “adult vacation.” I was sitting by the pool and looking out into the ocean. It was a moment of self-awareness where I just realized how hard I’d work to get where I am. I was very proud, calm, and at peace.
Q: Even though you record memories via photography, do you still keep a journal?
This is something I am working on. I try to type three things that I am grateful as a note on my iPhone. I think it’s important to be able to reflect on your thoughts, and to these thoughts physically in your hands.
Q: What’s a place you’d like to capture in your work one day?
Japan, specifically Tokyo. I love taking photos at night and I love neon colors. There is so much history in Japan and a variety of environments and the fashion out there is insane. Also… ramen.
Q: What is something you are currently working on right now?
I am currently working on projects for clients around my city of Waltham. I am working on getting clients outside of Massachusetts so I can travel a little more but I also love creating short fun films to keep myself creating! Personally, I am working on my mental health as I struggle with anxiety. I am working on meditation, mindfulness, gratitude and being more present!
Q: Now onto the fun stuff! Do you collect anything when you’re traveling?
I love collecting freezer magnets. It’s not as much for me but for my mom, she’s always loved collecting them. I honestly don’t know why, but she really likes them and that’s enough for me to want to collect them for her.
Q: What’s the most important skill you’ve learned on the road?
Talk to everyone and judge no one. Some of the coolest people I’ve met and some of my closest friends have been by accident. Go into every conversation with a big heart and open mind.
Q: Is there a video you’re most proud of?
One of my most popular videos “State of Mental Health” is definitely a video that tugs at the heart strings. This is a personal video, but this is also my style of story telling.
For tips on traveling with anxiety, check out What Traveling With Social Anxiety Has Taught Me.
Q: Share a memorable ‘first’ abroad.
Three years ago, I went to Guatemala with my family. On our family trip, we went to a river where there was a large cliff. I was incredibly nervous to jump off but everyone around me was jumping off. That first jump was really strange: the sensation of feeling nothing, but everything at the same time.
Q: Best purchase while on vacation.
Two years ago, I stopped at a Buc-ee’s gas station in Texas (the largest gas station franchise in Texas and they have the cleanest bathrooms ever! I stopped in to buy Rainbow Rope (basically sour patch kids in rainbow rope form.) Arguably the best sour candy I’ve ever had in my life.
Q: Any strange travel rituals?
I never wear belts. I always travel in khaki shorts or sweatpants. I like to be comfortable so I can sleep as soon as I get on the plane!
Here are some photos snapped by Marvin on his travels
Q: What international art destination do you want to visit most?
I would love to visit Bali, Indonesia.
Q: Memorable advice from a stranger?
Doubt is the ultimate dream killer. Stop overthinking and just do what you love.
Q: Biggest lessons learned on the road?
I used to travel a lot for my previous job as an Admissions Counselor. I learned that if you are not at peace with yourself, it is going to be very difficult for you to be at peace with anyone. On those long car rides, I had a lot of time to listen to music, podcasts, but also drive in silence and just have time for myself to think. Before practicing meditation, sitting in silence and listening to the wind helped calm me. Find time to meditate, to be with yourself and to be honest with yourself. Love yourself, always.