_MG_9753 (1)

Photo courtesy of ©James Charles Smith Photography

Maria is an Independent Travel Director and Photographer residing in Chicago, IL.  As a young girl growing up in a small town in northern Michigan, Maria dreamed of a life full of travel, creativity, and adventure.  She spent most of her youth exploring the beaches and woods of northern Michigan, building forts, mushroom hunting, climbing trees, inventing adventure clubs with her brother, and envisioning a life of exploration and discovery.

She moved to Chicago in 1995 and worked in the hospitality industry while she achieved her BFA as a  graphic artist and animator.  She worked as a freelance graphic artist where she focused on branding, photo editing, design and animation, as well a Creative Consultant for a local graphic design company.  Although she loved the creative process, the office life was not fulfilling enough.

In 2008 Maria began her career as an Independent Travel Director, coordinating onsite logistics for meetings and events around the world. It was here that her voracious appetite for travel, adventure, and creativity were fulfilled.  Every time Maria travelled she journaled her experience; the people she met, the places she visited, the cuisine, and the hilarity that is always present. Always with a camera in hand.

When not traveling the world with her clients or independently she loves to travel with her husband, Logan.  Together they enjoy adventures that include road trips, safaris in South Africa, rafting the Colorado River and hiking through National Parks. Taking photos of wildlife and landscapes has become a true passion for her, learning something new with each new experience.

So here is a glimpse into Maria’s Photographic Travel Journal.  All photos are hers unless otherwise noted, all stories are true.  If you would like to purchase any of her photos you can do so through her photography website: mariaricciardi.com.  Please do not copy or download any photos without permission.  Enjoy and feel free to leave comments.  Perhaps one day Maria will have the pleasure of meeting you on the road.