Meet The 20-Year-Old Maltese Entrepreneur Who Gets Paid To Travel And Go To Parties

27th January 2018

As a millennial entrepreneur, Marc Edward Pace Portanier, 20, is choosing a path in life that is very different to the rest of his family's.

Marc Edward Pace Portanier’s passion for photography developed from when he was still very young. “My father had a passion for photography, and I remember going with him to the air show for as long as I can remember,” the 20-year-old told “They tell me that when I was around 7 or 8, I had taken a Pentax SLR and started playing around and shooting anything I liked. This continued until I got my first DSLR when I was around 12 or 13. Around the same time, I developed a liking for parties and started organising a few school ones where I usually took care of the photography. I took it more seriously when I invested into some real gear around four years ago, and since then, I haven’t looked back.”

Up until a few years ago, Mr Pace Portanier says, club photography was still a relatively new concept, with only two or three clubs having photographers. “I was helping promote the reopening of a club, saw an opportunity and took the plunge. It was an instant hit – within a few months I signed another club as a client then another.” In fact, this is what led Mr Pace Portanier to found iShoot. “We mainly cover nightlife, events and corporate material. We also provide social media content and management, and manage promotional campaigns and video promotions. Currently I have around eight freelancers helping me, mainly in summer and during the festive season, as well as when I'm abroad, since some of our clients are based overseas.”

Mr Pace Portanier has now found a way to make money off another one of his passions – travel. “I have a passport with a problem – it doesn’t like my drawer!” he jokes. “ Having foreign clients helped my itchy feet since I get to travel for work and whenever I’m on a job I usually add a day or two after to just enjoy the city I’m in. This also helps me improve my eye as different cities have different shooting opportunities. I was travelling so much that my friends said I should open a blog. I was too busy, but the thought kept lingering. I was on the last leg of a six-country trip over Christmas 2016 when I opened my travel blog, Maltese Nomad. It has gone from strength to strength, and I’ve recently taken on a collaboration with Visit Wroclaw to provide content, videos as well as Instagram posts.”

Mr Pace Portanier says his youth is often considered to be an obstacle when it comes to being taken seriously as an entrepreneur, but he manages to leverage it to his advantage. “Being young means you come up with all the crazy ideas which sometimes actually work, especially in entertainment! I always can gauge what customers want and it’s something I can relate forward to my clients. The most satisfying part of my job is seeing my work appreciated, and being thanked personally. Many people overlook us photographers at a party but when someone makes the effort and messages you ‘Thanks, your photos are amazing’, it’s like I’ve won the lottery.”

Marc Edward with David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports Marketing US

Most of Mr Pace Portanier’s relatives are white-collar professionals – if his surname seems familiar, it’s because for over seven decades, Portanier Brothers Ltd ran one of the biggest factories in Malta, producing sparkling water and soft drinks. For many of his family members who are businessmen, retailers and bankers, his photographic and online career seems like a pipe dream. “I’ve heard so many arguments like ‘You’re going to ruin your future’ or ‘I’ve spent so much money on your education and this is what you choose to do?’ I don’t blame them – it’s hard for them to embrace a different work ethic. They don’t really get that not all millennials are into that 9 to 5 routine, and are more open to risks. Personally, I’m addicted to taking risks – I always want that adrenaline rush. But despite our differences, they are supportive of my decisions and I’m truly grateful for that.”

“Right now I’m undertaking a major rebrand, as well as splitting up the services I offer into separate but interlinked entities. I’m in the process of teaming up with a foreign videographer to open up a dedicated cinematography operation, which will provide corporate as well as private clients with video footage of their events.”

“My advice to other young aspiring entrepreneurs is to be ready for those 80-100 hour weeks, the kind of weeks where you barely sleep or see your loved ones. I’ve had days when I’m working till 3am having started at 6pm, then going home and edit photos while I’m packing to get an 8am flight, sometimes preparing for conferences on the plane! It’s tiring and you’ll get days when you just want to quit but it’s the hard days which you remember with satisfaction when you succeed. Being your own boss is a mind-set. You need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work. You need to be able to accept the fact that yes you will fail and this will happen, learning from that failure turns it into a lesson. Learn to step out of your comfort zone and take the risk.”


Marie-Claire Grima - 3rd February 2018

"The start-up is a based in the UK – it has excellent foundations and significant growth potential so it is an exciting opportunity for me."


Jo Caruana - 21st January 2018

As Farsons gets ready to celebrate 90 years of brewing in 2018, Chairman Louis Farrugia talks about the strengths and challenges facing the company, and the Maltese manufacturing industry.