Marissa Leshnov is a portrait and documentary photographer based in Oakland, California. Born in 1993 as the oldest of seven children, Marissa learned photography by making portraits of her family using a point-and-shoot camera that was gifted to her by her parents when she was fifteen. Through photographing her school-aged siblings, Marissa developed her instinct for getting at or below eye level with her sitters, creating a visual language that communicates respect and care, while also facilitating a mutual exchange of seeing and understanding.
While studying physics at The University of Alabama, Marissa grew frustrated with how women and people of color were often made invisible in the sciences. After graduating, she found renewed purpose in photography as a way of expanding limited visual libraries. She believes that images have the power to inform public imagination and views photography as an act of political importance, emphasizing the need for images that add depth and nuance to existing narratives.
Marissa is often called on to photograph the disproportionate impact of America’s political and cultural systems, as well as those who are working to bridge the gaps of inequality along the intersections of cultural heritage, race, memory, and power. She was one of ten photographers named by Atlanta Celebrates Photography’s 2020 Ones to Watch list, and frequently contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and San Francisco Chronicle.