LFM #1: Photography, Rock Climbing, and of course, Coffee with Maria Salova

The best conversations begin with coffee. I was thrilled to catch up for coffee and brunch in downtown Chicago with my friend Maria, a photographer and digital marketing professional from Norfolk, Virginia. 


Like me, Maria always starts her morning with coffee. 

"I always make a pot of coffee as soon as I wake up," Maria says. "I start the kettle and like knowing it's going as I'm getting ready... I like to set a foundation of positive energy, a clear mind, in my mornings, and that first cup of coffee is the catalyst. Like, ok, I’ve got my day going."

She also loves breakfast (did I mention we have a lot in common?) and says she loves the routine of making it, switching it up on the weekends. "On the weekends, I always make a big breakfast — I go all out," she says. "Right now, I'm trying to perfect the smoothie bowl." 

She also listens to a playlist. "It's pretty much alternative music, and my current one is called 'Get Over It' and helps me get over, well, anything I have going on," she says. "Beach FossilsHazel EnglishDay WaveReal Estate... they're my favorites right now." 


She is currently focusing more of her time on her amazing portraits and photography — for friends, for clients, always capturing the amazing architecture and cool Norfolk vibe that seems to surround her. “Photography is my guiding light… it’s the one thing I do that’s truly just for me.”


Maria used to be really into weight lifting, and while she still is, she's recently found her new inspiring movement within rock climbing. 

"I was surprised! I went with former co-workers, who told me I was a natural," Maria says. "Rock climbing is fun because it’s working out, but so much more. It's a physical and mental challenge. It's like figuring out a puzzle. And it's totally new for me, not anything I previously thought I wanted to do or ever thought I would do... but while you’re up there, you can only focus on one thing at a time. When I go to the gym, I do weight training, cardio, I think too much, but with weights, I’m counting each rep and able to really focus. I’m so focused, that this — my rock climbing, my weight lifting — is my meditation. Meditation is so important, and I never felt like I could do it before, when I pictured myself just sitting in a room. But now I've found something that allows me to still meditate but satisfy my athlete’s heart." 

Maria has always been active, pursuing ballet and track and field as a child. "Now that I've found rock climbing, I feel like there could be even more options I love I just haven't discovered yet, which is exciting." 

"One thing I love about rock climbing and the gym is that there are such communities there," Maria shares. "It's a mini-culture. It's inspiring. Enthusiastic. It brings people together. It helps women feel that strong is beautiful, which is such a movement right now, and that movement, that feeling, has really helped to inspire me." 

If you'd like to learn more about Maria, you can follow her photography on Instagramat @mvsalova and visit her website: www.mvsalova.com

Photography is my guiding light... it’s the only thing I truly do just for me.