… and, what happened to Aviators and a Camera?
This is going to sound counterintuitive but I’m a true introvert most of the time, who has developed extrovert capabilities, so having a blog or a website that was all about me was never a life goal of mine as a teenager or even when I was in my early twenties! Yes, I know, the site you’re currently looking at has my name as the URL so you’re thinking this really isn’t right. But bear with me, there’s a story there…
You see ever since the internet became a real thing that everyone had access to and blogging with it (remember Open Diary, Live Journal and Xanga?! and when a blog was called a Web Blog? I was on all of those!). I was drawn to chat rooms and blogging because it allowed my extroverted self to have a creative outlet but protected my introverted self behind a wall of mostly-anonymity. Oh, the web in the late nineties!
As a portrait and wedding photographer post-2000 it made sense to have a blog because it was inexpensive marketing for my business. When I wanted to become a travel photographer, again it made sense because it was a way to share my portfolio as I was developing it, in a way that didn’t require me building a huge new portfolio site.
Then there was Twitter and Instagram took off, Snapchat became a thing, Facebook went from being something we only had as college staff members – yes, I was on Facebook THAT early – to something even my mother was on and all of the sudden, before I knew it the world was a place fueled by celebrities, personalities and influencers and *GASP* I was part of that last group; reluctant but willing, able to withstand the parts of the culture that I felt uncomfortable with, in order to reap the benefit of the parts I adore, i.e. getting to basically have my dream job.
The problem was that by 2015 my now WordPress-run blog and the Virb-powered portfolio that I’d spun off into a separate site — still looked like something I made in the nineties. And made myself. Because I did.
Both sites looked like an afterthought compared to everything else I was doing online. Yes, I’d changed the blog name multiple times in an effort to make it less about me and more about my work and yes, I was always tinkering with both sites but they still looked amateur. Even stretched to the limit, my coding abilities paired with customizable templates, never cut it.
In my spare time I tried Squarespace and though I still recommend it to others I wasn’t able to ever make it what I wanted. I was also drowning under the weight of trying to update, and maintain, two very separate websites all by myself. Little known fact, I also HATE writing about myself and I always wanted a site that could support posts which were less about text and more about photos or videos. This was something I never could create on my own no matter what and how I tried.
One night toward the end of last summer, I realized that the one web designer I had always admired was someone I could finally afford to hire so I woke up the next day, sent an email asking that someone to make a site for me and found out the hard way, there was a waiting list! Of course there was! But determined, I agreed to wait and finally last winter I started work with Hannah and Lee at Further Bound. They are the only reason that what you see around you looks as good as it does.
Hannah and Lee took my two sites, drew from my laundry list of desires, put up with my indecision, endured my insane travel schedule that sometimes kept me offline for days at a time and patiently built me a beautiful, new home from the ground up.
We worked together using Pinterest boards to narrow down my varied interests into a few things that are core to who I am. They are a love of color, an appreciation for exotic-but-elegant patterns, and a consuming obsession with all things French. Along the way some Impressionist paintings wove their magic into the look and feel.
A preference for gold, that replaced my love of silver in my thirties, took a sort of center stage. My love of the sea came through in my unwillingness to abandon turquoise, which was the primary color of the last several websites I’ve had and which always reminds me of the Caribbean ocean.
It wasn’t easy narrowing down my interests. When it comes to design in general I’m like a kid in a candy store who wants to try every single thing and doesn’t understand that will make her sick. Sometimes I wanted this to be all vintage travel-themed with black and white architectural elements. Sometimes I wanted it to look like an Avedon photograph or an Art Deco masterpiece or like a sunset in Bora Bora! Poor Hannah and Lee. They are saints who steered a ship with a confused captain.
Aviators and a Camera was, I once thought, a great name for a travel blog because it was a nod to my aviation enthusiasm, to travel in general, to the style of sunglasses I can’t go outside without and the thing I always have in my hand and the way in which I define myself — but it always tripped people up. It was often misspelled and usually misunderstood. It might have been at the beginning of the alphabet, which was convenient when I was part of lists, and it might have FELT so me but it was, in the end, always a wall I hid behind that cramped my style and seemed incapable of growing with me as I evolved both personally and professionally.
Kirsten Alana is the Scandinavian first and middle name that I was born with and those names won’t change no matter what else in my life might. It’s the perfect URL to go forward into the future with because in a world of uncertainty, and as a person who is always pursuing new things and always thriving on change, it’s good to have one place which I can call home that has one consistent thing.
This site is going to grow with me. No longer just about travel or photography, it now covers travel, photography, fashion, design, food, Francophilia and all the things I love. It is both a personal journal and a professional portfolio. It even has a store. It has stunning little details that made me actually jump up and down upon first glance during the design process.
Most important to me is functionality and that was the biggest thing missing from any site I’ve had in the past. I hope this becomes a place people will want to pull up a chair to and stay a while. I hope it is easy to navigate and pleasant to visit. I look forward to hearing what your favorite parts are, and to your comments and emails. I can’t wait to get to know you better as you get to know me better, now that I’ve come out from behind a wall!
If you’re coming here as a new or old reader and fan, check out:
- my About page,
- the much improved and elegant Where I’ve Been page,
- the Giving page, which I am very much looking forward to expanding,
- a list of Resources that should help you answer questions you often want to, or do, email me,
- an FAQ page that should answer any questions the Resources page cannot and,
- of course the Journal page, which now reflects the three main categories of this site. They are Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel. Each of which will take you to even more categories within each section.
Professionally, this new site also:
- comes with a sharp new portfolio,
- a media kit that showcases who I am and what I do best as a creator, and
- a collaborate page that represents me and my brand for those of you that want to work with me
- and a Press page that lists all of the places I, or my site, have been featured over the years as well as work I have completed for other sites and brands.
It will take time for every single blog post to be converted over to the new format. So allow for some occasional bugs, please, of the not alive variety. This conversion is something I have to do on my own, using those old coding skills I once honed. And patience. A lot of patience! When you’ve been blogging as long as I have, there’s a lot to update.
You can stay up to date with this site and my career using another new feature that’s part of this greater re-launch of my brand: a beautiful and fully-branded once-per-month newsletter. That will feature content I never publish here, it will also summarize what has been published every month so you have a handy overview of all new content.
None of this comes easy to me, even this post itself took about 35 hours total to write and went through more than 20 iterations. Despite the fact that my career is basically me as a brand I still am more of an introvert than an extrovert. I still hate writing about myself or “my brand.”
What keeps me going is the messages I receive from you every single week talking about how much I’ve inspired you. They usually make me cry. They still, surprise and humble me.
Because you are the reason I do what I do, I hope that whether you are a new or an old reader – you will consider this your site as much as it is mine. It’s the last reason I decided to go with my name as my URL. A name is just a name. It could be anyone’s name. It could be yours!
Nothing makes me more special or any luckier than you are. You too can live a life as crazy, adventurous and ultimately as multifaceted as mine. All you have to do is want the dream enough to pursue it at all costs and make adjustments accordingly. My life isn’t perfect but it is worth sharing and yours is no different. Let’s come out from behind our walls together, ok? Keep sending me messages, I look forward to getting to know you!