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Life Behind the Lens with Kirsten Alana

India - Photograph by Kirsten Alana

Please tell us about yourself and what stoked your desire to begin traveling.

My name is Kirsten Alana, I’m the daughter of a painter and designer, I was born in Vermont but I’ve lived all over the USA and I call NYC home right now. Having a desire to travel is part of my earliest memories, sparked by National Geographic Magazine and my mother’s stories of her Swedish and Finnish heritage. She gave me my first passport at 12 and took me to England but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties and fresh from a bitter divorce that I actually became nomadic and traveled full time for four years. It’s pretty simple, everything in my personal life was ending and it seemed like a good time to pursue that dream I’d always had but been afraid to commit to.


Where have you been and what do you enjoy most about the various cultures you have encountered on your travels?

I’ve been on every continent except Antarctica. Somehow I have not been to more than 40 countries though because I seem to be drawn to the same places over and over again! Europe is my first love, my biggest passion and even though I like things about Asia, I always explore that part of the world with more hesitation and less love, more like a hesitant curiosity.

Culturally, I find I’m drawn to places that I can understand more easily but which have key differences from my own American upbringing. This isn’t something I am proud of because I believe we grow the most when we’re the most challenged. Yet as I enter my mid-thirties I know this to be a firm truth now: I can’t ever get enough of the food, history and culture in countries such as France, Scotland, Italy and Spain. I should just bite the bullet and become a European Specialist.

Egypt - Photograph by Kirsten Alana 

What do you find is most rewarding about traveling and what inspires you to keep going?

Every time someone comments on a blog post or photo of mine with something about how I’ve shown them a place in a way they never expected, or shown them a place they never even had a desire to go to at all until my content – it’s what inspires me to keep traveling. I have no illusions that I am the best blogger or photographer out there, but I get a lot of positive feedback about the way I choose to share the world with people and until that stops, I can’t see myself stopping. 

My greatest desire is to help people learn more about the world outside their door, a world they might never see with their own eyes. If I can do this, that’s a good day.

Morocco - Photograph by Kirsten Alana

Do you have a favorite sunny destination and if so where and why?

Such a tough thing to pick!! Definitely my favorite places, after Europe, always involve sun and sand so a list is easier to provide than just one favorite.

I like Bora Bora because of how warm and clear the water is. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced via sailboat.

Hawaii was just magical in every way, and offers the chance to snorkel with Manta Rays!

It would be difficult to top the diving and snorkeling opportunities of the Great Barrier Reef and I think the Whitsundays are the most beautiful destination I’ve ever seen from a helicopter.

Paris - Photograph by Kirsten Alana

Please tell us about your blog/website etc.

My blog is like the red headed step child of my career and I feel bad for it. I spend so much time doing photography and social media work for clients that I never seem to have the time for it, which is probably further influenced by the fact that it’s not my true passion. And yet I owe my career to my blog, it’s how I got started in travel in terms of it being a job! So on aviatorsandacamera.com you’ll find a bit of a random sampling about my life, travels and NYC stories. It goes back to my mid-twenties. So it’s almost 10 years old now. (Wow that’s crazy!) It is definitely in need of a full re-brand and redesign. 

My Instagram is more like a traditional travel guidebook. I try to publish each photo as a standalone tip or story with travel information, photography advice, or history as part of each caption. It’s the story of my life and travels but it’s also highly curated.

Twitter usually reflects where I am and what I’m up to at the moment, it’s the most current to each and every day. Facebook is a work in progress, and ever changing, as it’s the social network I struggle with the most. Tumblr is where I get a bit sassy and sarcastic. Pinterest is where you see the things I like. And though I am trying to get into Snapchat, you’re more likely to see my broadcasting on Periscope or Vine instead.

Thank you, Kirsten for opening up your world to Sunshine Tienda! Follow along on Kirsten's next adventure at www.aviatorsandacamera.com


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