Business Traveler Interview: Kirsten Alana
This is part of a new series here at WhyGo Business Travel featuring brief interviews with people who travel for work, asking them about what they do and some of their favorite travel tips. This way, if you’re looking for a career that will require travel, you’ll get to read about people doing some of the jobs you might consider – and you’ll also learn a few great travel tips from the travel pros!
This week, we’re talking with Kirsten Alana, who’s a Charlotte, North Carolina-based photographer. Her site is kirstenalana.com, which she describes this way: “If it has a name, it’s simply “Kirsten Alana Travels”. However, I’ve considered re-branding as the Runaway Photographer or the Traveling Photographer many times. In the end, it’s easiest to be known by my name when I photograph across many different industries – not just travel!” She’s also on Twitter as @kirsten_al.
What do you do?
I’m a photographer, primarily, who used to photograph weddings and now does portrait, corporate and travel photography. I also write about my travels and take odd design jobs once in a while. I really enjoy doing portraits (head shots) for fellow travelers!
What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
I’ve traveled most often for my wedding and portrait photography work. Once, I flew to Las Vegas simply to do an engagement session with a couple at the Neon Sign Museum! If I’m traveling for that type of work, I usually don’t have a lot of control over where I go – it’s up to the clients. Lately, as I’ve gotten more into travel photography and writing, I’ve had a little more control over where I do and don’t go. That’s been a nice change!
How often do you get to travel for work?
I’m usually on the road for a week or more per month but I wouldn’t mind my schedule keeping me on the road 3-4 weeks a month. I feel more at home on the road than I do back at basecamp!
Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel? Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
There wasn’t a lot of forethought that went into my being a portrait and wedding photographer, which is a story I detail on my blog. However, the choice to do travel photography and writing was a conscious one and I’d make it again in a heartbeat because it allows me to travel and consistently meet new and amazing people. Besides photography, travel is my great love! It’s rarely easy in the way people outside the industry think it will be, however if life were easy it might not be as fun and I don’t have any intention of living a boring life. Plus, the perks can be really great!
What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
1) Pack light! No matter the destination, who wants to be carrying a lot of luggage everywhere they go? No matter the style whether backpacking or staying in luxury hotels, inevitably you carry your luggage often enough that the amount begins to count. I’ve learned this the hard way by not packing light!
2) Unplug. Don’t stay chained to a smart phone or computer the entire time even when traveling solely for business. There’s so much you miss when you don’t stop to enjoy your surroundings.
3) Eat local foods. No matter where you are, there is usually some type of cuisine local to the area you are in. I’m a picky eater yet even I can usually find something to enjoy everywhere I go. To eat only McDonalds while traveling is simply a waste of a great opportunity!
4) Be an extrovert! I’ve had some thought provoking discussions and met some really incredible people while on the road. Sure, there are times I’d rather fall asleep on the plane than talk to the person next to me and there are times I choose that when exhausted beyond belief. However, the occasions I have pushed my limits to share travel stories with the person next to me in the hostel bar – have always turned out to be great memories. Life doesn’t have to be lonely when you travel all the time!
What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
It’s an incredible privilege to be a photographer or a travel journalist, but it’s also a lot of work if it’s an actual career! Think seriously about whether you want travel and photography to be hobbies or full time occupations. There’s a huge difference between the two and it’s not all wine and roses when it’s more than a hobby – even if the perks are great!
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