+ Who are you?
I’m a photographer! Sometimes I’m also a video host, a tour guide, a consultant, and a public speaker. But I’ve also been called a content creator, an influencer, and a blogger. I like to think of myself as a Digital Media Entrepreneur because this is the only title I’ve found that seems to sum up all the things I do every day besides click the shutter button of a camera! For the long version, check out my About page and this article I wrote for the BBC.
+ How many countries have you been to?
I don’t keep precise track. For me, it’s not about the number. It’s about the experiences I have when I travel and what I learn from them. Last time someone did require me to count (this can happen for visa applications actually!) my number was over 40. In case you just really need to know every country, I had this handy map created so you can see everywhere I’ve been on this page!
+ How can you afford to travel all the time?
The majority of the travel you see featured on this site and my social channels, is a work assignment for a client in travel, lifestyle or fashion. My travel is part of my job and as such I don’t actually spend my time simply going on vacation everywhere. You will always know this is the case because I will always disclose this. But when I do travel for a holiday, I’m able to do so because I live a thrifty lifestyle and I don’t spend my money on things I don’t need. Instead, I save to spend my money on travel.
+ That’s so cool! How do I do what you do?
Ok it is still crazy to me that I get asked this. But nope, I’m not just being narcissistic, I actually get this question every week! And it’s not an easy one to answer unfortunately. I didn’t come to what I am doing today by a straight road and I made a lot of mistakes getting here. PLUS, I still don’t think I’ve “arrived” or even figured it all out. But if you really want to be a photographer that specializes in travel like I do, I recommend checking out the MatadorU courses which are a good start for pretty much anyone.
You might also consider taking a Sante Fe Workshop. If you’re a college student, then stay in school! Study photography AND business. You will need both in order to be successful! But know that no matter what you do, there’s no shortcut to this job. You have to HUSTLE. It’s a job I made myself along with thousands of other entrepreneurs who decided in the 21st century that the 9-5 just isn’t for us. That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard. In fact, I work harder now than I ever did at any office job I ever had. (And I had quite a few of them!)
+ Who do you travel with? Can I come with you?
First of all, aww I would love to take my fans and followers with me! That’s why I have JUST launched a trip to India for Fall 2017!!! Details here. But most of my work doesn’t allow me even one guest let alone multiples. Usually, I am traveling alone for work. For pleasure, I travel with my partner Danté, my mother or my sister slash best friend. I do love traveling with other photographers and creatives and if you’d like to hire me in a group, I’d love to hear a proposal for that. Use the contact page to send me a message.
+ What do you shoot with?
My Instagram features about 90% or more iPhone-only photos. But for all my client work I use professional camera equipment. For a few years, that was the Samsung NX1. Before that when I was a wedding and portrait photographer I shot with the Canon 5DMII. I’ve also used Sony, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic cameras. For more details, check out my resources page.
+ What photo editing apps do you recommend?
I can only tell you what I use and like. Right now on my iPhone I prefer VSCO, Priime and Snapseed. On my desktop, I use Lightroom with VSCO presets.
+ What are your favorite mobile apps?
Well, Instagram, of course. I’m also 100% addicted to the imperfection and immediacy of Snapchat. I love Cameo for editing together quick iPhone videos. I think Hyperlapse and Boomerang are really fun and sometimes I can totally lose track of time playing around with those.
Swarm is my favorite way to keep track of all the places I visit when I travel. Every few months I get on a kick making stories with Steller. I usually start every morning catching up on the latest stories via the NPR News app. I have a gazillion flight alerts set up with Hitlist and Hopper.
+ Can I guest post on your blog?
At this time, no and not even for a fee, because KirstenAlana.com is my site that reflects my thoughts and opinions. Please don’t contact me offering a guest post. I’d recommend looking for sites that have groups of writers, and a stated policy that is open to accepting guest posts.
+ How did you get so many Instagram followers?
Again, I am always amazed when I get this question because I have close friends who have 5x my amount of followers and to me, the number doesn’t matter, the people who leave me comments and take the time to really engage REALLY matter to me. But if the number impresses you, thank you for being impressed! And I have two words for you: hard work.
I was never a suggested user on Instagram. And there isn’t a short cut that I took. I’ve simply built my following by being consistent: I post good photos, with engaging captions and I always reply to comments.
+ Can you give me a shout out on your IG feed?
Again, no. I’m so sorry but I get asked to do this every week. Sometimes, every day. If I said yes to one person, I’d have to say yes to everyone. That’s the only way to be fair. And then my account would no longer be mine, nor would it be a resource for people in the way it is now.
I recommend tagging your applicable photos with the hashtags for a group account like Beautiful Destinations or participating in the challenges for an account like Passion Passport. These will get you both exposure, if they feature your photo, and access to an engaged community of like-minded people who share your interests.
+ I’m coming to NYC can we get together?
I wish we could! If I had my way, I’d spend all my time meeting followers and fans, thanking you for essentially being the reason I have the job I do! Unfortunately, I have to hustle so much that there’s never downtime when I am home in NYC between assignments around the world. If there is, I spend it with those I am closest to because they keep me grounded.
However, if you’d be interested in my hosting a “reader meetup” the next time my travels bring me to your home town, just send me a message through the contact page and I bet we can find a way to make that happen!
+ When did you start this blog and why?
I started blogging in the 90’s through LiveJournal because it’s what everyone was doing! When I became a wedding and portrait photographer it just made sense to blog for marketing purposes. When I decided to transition into travel, having my own blog seemed like the easiest way to “get my work out there.” From there it took off in ways I could have never imagined nor ever prepared for.
+ Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Join a community from the beginning. My favorite for travel is detailed on my Resources page. If you’re looking to blog about fashion or food, I’d recommend finding bloggers you love that specialize in those areas in particular and then asking them for advice.
+ Can we be friends on Facebook?
I get a ton of friend requests on my personal Facebook page, and I used to say yes to all of them! Sadly, that led to some scary scenarios that I do not ever want to repeat. So I’m making an effort to keep my personal Facebook account for close friends and family only and I hope you will understand and respect that.
The good news is that I have a Facebook page called Kirsten Alana Travels where I would love to hang out with you! Make sure you comment so I can interact with you and get to know you there.
+ Can I advertise on your site?
+ So how do I work with you?
Awww thanks for asking! Well, I’m fully freelance, not employed full time or exclusively by anyone. I love to review pitches for photography projects, influencer campaigns and business partnerships that allow me the opportunity to tell good stories!
Please start by reviewing the Collaborate page and then sending me a message via the Contact page. Before you do, kindly note so that we can save ourselves both time: no, I don’t accept exposure as payment no matter how many followers your brand has and I only participate in rare, extraordinary press trips to international destinations outside of the USA.
+ Who took all the gorgeous photos of you on your site?
Awww haha, they are gorgeous aren’t they?! Although I am my own worst enemy and I usually hate all photos of myself, the photos for my site had to be taken! So my loving partner Dante Vincent agreed to work with me, and let’s just say that because I am not an easy subject at all, he is a saint for taking the project on. He didn’t have to. But he did.