CJC Interview: Kirsten Alana, Professional Photographer
Tell us a little about your path so far— where are you from? Where are you currently? Share a few career highlights.
“I was born in Vermont, I have family in Michigan [now] and I live in Los Angeles currently. In between, I’ve lived all over the United States and visited all 50 of our states. I’m not from a military family, we just moved around a fair amount and after I left home it made sense to keep trying out new places. I think change is the only constant I really do know! That, and photography. I’ve been in love with taking pictures for as long as I can remember and photography has been a part of my career for more than half my life now. It started as portrait and wedding photography but has evolved into travel photography because traveling is the only thing I love as much as photography.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“Most of my inspiration comes from being thrown into places and situations that are unfamiliar to me. I think that’s why my portfolio doesn’t really have “a look” like that of so many other professional photographers. I always enjoy a new challenge!”
What’s the biggest misconception you face WFH or as an entrepreneur?
“People assume those of us who are entrepreneurs have all the time and money in the world to just play around. In reality, we never have enough money and all the free time in the world means nothing if you don’t have the money to be able to fill that time with things you love doing. It’s great in so many ways, it’s just never as romantic as it looks like it would be.”
What’s your favorite ‘me-time’ or ’self-care' activity?
“I really just want to be outside, alone or with one other person I really care about, enjoying nature. I also love to read and when I get the time to delve into a good book, that makes me pretty happy.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned in your 20s?
“Failure isn’t final.”
What is the biggest contributor to your personal, inevitable self-doubt?
“Let’s just say it’s an abuser from my childhood and formative years that I struggle to let go of or get beyond. I still hear their voice all the time, telling me I can’t do something or I am not good enough.”
Who do you find in business, a personal mentor or celebrity figure to be most intriguing?
“My friend Kiersten, The Blonde Abroad. She’s turned photography, blogging and “influencing” into a bonafide, incredibly well-paying career. Where others, like me, struggle to find a way forward she is killing it consistently. She has employees, multiple channels of profit and works all around the world. She does it all while being a genuinely nice person.”
If you weren’t pursuing your current career, what would you want to be doing?
“I’d want to own a shop that sold flowers and books by day, while offering coffee in the morning and drinks at night. It’s the kind of place I just want to spend all day every day in, so I could easily do that as a business and not feel stifled.”
If you could give younger self any bit of wisdom what would it be?
“SAVE money, don’t spend it. Invest early and often -- so when you’re older, you will have the kind of freedom that comes from financial security.”
How do you define success?
“As having enough money to have freedom of choice. Not so much that you’re RICH, but enough that you have options and don’t have to rely on anyone else for anything.”
What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses as an entrepreneur and/or WFH?
“I don’t stick up for myself properly when it counts. Until I’m backed into a corner and then I can be unkind because I’m defending myself too little, too late.”
What is your favorite Instagram to follow? Favorite brands on social?
“I never get tired of my partner Dante’s feed. Especially since so often I am traveling and don’t see him, so his feed is a way to keep up with his life that I’m missing. And he consistently posts beautiful images. He should have a far larger following than he does, if it was about talent only.”
I also am ENDLESSLY inspired by the work that Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio creates. If I hadn’t mentioned Kiersten above, I could have easily said Jamie and her husband Kevin. They have the most incredible opportunities on a consistent basis and they deserve every one of them. They also live in France, which is my dream.
Favorite brands on social: The Francophiles, Clare Vivier, CN Traveler, Passion Passport, JCrew, Ralph Lauren, Homepolish, The Citizenry, Rothy's, J'AIPUR Journal, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Visit California, Visit Scotland, France.fr, Explore Canada, The Conservation Alliance, REI
What’s something few people know about you?
“When I am in a room of people I don’t know, and I have to do the networking equivalent of cold calling - I am painfully shy. I basically cannot easily meet people I don’t know.”