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Kirsten is a Los Angeles-based photographer and traveler seeking to inspire people to get out and learn through exploration. Audience prefers ethical and responsible travel as well as lifestyle subject-matter. Also at www.kirstenalanaphotography.com
Fog hangs densely on the mountains that soar above the small village like sheltering arms. Waterfalls descend into cold, alpine streams that bring a melody which echoes between charming wälderhaus, the white steeple of the town’s church and the stores that sell food to residents and supplies to visitors who come to ski or hike. Window boxes and flower beds spill over with black eyed susans and anemones; colorful compliments to the aged wood shingles of the homes and the timber lines of the town hall and kindergarten. The village of Mellau, and everyone from @visitvorarlberg, welcomed our tiny #PropelVorarlberg conference group this week with a kindness and warmth I don’t think I’ve felt under any circumstance for 18 months. To begin traveling again is one sublime blessing but to do it for the first time in so long by visiting Austria again has filled me with gratefulness. To also be amongst friends I’ve known for a decade, all fully vaccinated and testing every few days and wearing masks when required, is beyond words. I missed you travel, thanks for having me back. Thank you, Vorarlberg for hosting me.
It’s been 18 months since I boarded a plane that would leave the USA. Even longer since I was on a plane that left the North American continent. The longest since I began my career in travel more than 10 years ago. It’s caused the worst identity crisis I’ve ever gone through and led me back into places so dark, they’re similar to the last time I tried to commit suicide and - thankfully - failed. Which is not to say that I’m not aware of the privilege of getting to travel at all! I’m very aware. And it’s one of many reasons I stayed home this long rather than getting on planes simply because I could or was now fully vaccinated. But all that changes on Sunday when I will board a plane taking me to one of my favorite parts of Austria, @visitvorarlberg. To reunite with some of my oldest friends in this profession. To see if I have anything meaningful to say about traveling anymore. To see what it’s like when I’ve been away from it this long. To see if it can be done safely and equitably for all involved. To see so many things. I hope you will want to follow along. Most importantly, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing - I hope you are healthy, and safe. ❤️
Do you love escaping city or urban life for some time out in nature? Do you have any trips coming up that get you out into nature? It’s an idea that became a trend during the pandemic and I get why. But for me, it’s always been a needed change and a type of activity I crave. To be away from the concrete and steel of manmade places and revel in that which is wholly natural or as natural as possible. Some favorite nature quotes to accompany these thoughts… In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful. – Alice Walker Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. — Khalil Gibran Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. — Albert Einstein Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. — Helen Keller And if you can’t escape the city, don’t forget to sink your toes into the grass of a city park or sit your bum down on a bench under a big tree in a park. 🌱🌳 Even that, is so restorative. And if we don’t use our city parks, maybe planners will stop building them. And what a shame that would be. The more green, the better, for me in terms of cities. Hope you’re having a great Wednesday so far 💚
Do you have the ability to post to Instagram from your computer yet?? I’m seeing lots of people talking about how awesome it is to finally have that but I don’t have it yet 😭😭 Anyway, another photo from India for you since it’s getting to the end of my second India fundraiser [see last post on profile] and I have India on the brain. I’m incredibly grateful for experiences like this one at @tajhotels @rambaghpalace and all the ones I’ve had getting to know such a vibrant, inspiring country. But the reality for people who live in India is not the same that we as tourists so often have and it’s important we recognize that as travelers, and do our part to help. For all destinations. As we get back to being able to travel, I hope we will do it with renewed purpose and thought about the effect tourism has on the places we visit. ❤️
As someone who loves to see almost anywhere I can via 🚲 bicycle 🚲 and who loves India - it’s an honor to be helping kick off an awareness campaign and donation drive for @vffusa’s bicycle donation program for kids in India. I’ve been talking about the country a lot lately because of what’s happening there related to COVID and here on Instagram you’ve already helped me raise more than $500 to help those in need because of this horrible virus. Thank you!! So much! But an ongoing issue that’s always occurring, is the need for increased access to safe and accessible transportation for school-age children who, in rural India, often can’t attend school because of a lack of transportation which can cause a high rate of illiteracy and dropouts. Especially among girls! Who can already have a harder time in India for cultural reasons. However, we can do something about this! A simple bicycle can ensure that those same children avoid the harassment and assault that is all too often experienced on foot. For just $99, together we can provide one child with one bicycle. But it’s so much more than two wheels. It’s an education. It’s safety. And it opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities. The Vicente Ferrer Foundation is committed to combating poverty and inequality in rural India and I am committed to helping those in need at home and abroad however and wherever I can. I’m sure you know that about me by now as I launched Raising for Change and often address issues like this in my newsletter and captions here. This is just one more way we can make a difference together, today. I hope you will join me! And thank you in advance for being a community that’s always willing to step up and help others. You give me hope even when headlines so often make the world seem hopeless, so thank you for that! ❤️ To learn more before donating, visit the link in my profile. 🙏😘
On this day in 2016, I was at @vividsydney on assignment for @travelandleisure, covering a festival that has always taken place during Sydney’s winter season, since it was founded in 2009 - as a smart light festival drawing attention to the need for energy efficiency while celebrating technological advances, art, light, music and ideas. It was canceled in 2020 because of COVID but it’s back this year, taking place in August, and I can think of few more fitting festivals that should be taking place as we begin to emerge from such a dark chapter in global history. Light and hope are so important now and while so many countries still have such a long way to go before emerging from this crisis fully, I know I see more signs of hope every day when I look around. I’m clinging to those. Australia’s borders are still closed and at this time only open to Australian citizens, permanent resident, immediate family members and some from New Zealand — this is one event I will be trying to tune into digitally as much as is possible when it does take place in August. I had such an incredible time at VIVID in 2016 that it immediately cemented itself on my list of favorite events that you can usually travel to be a part of. If it opens back up to the whole world in 2022, I’ll be first in line to look at booking my ticket. This light tunnel and the art displayed on the trees at the Royal Botanic Garden were my favorite installations after the Indigenous art that used the Opera House as its canvas that year. I went back every chance that I got to enjoy it over and over and never felt tired of seeing it. Should I put together a photo essay with more images of this event? I never did as it wasn’t required by the project I did back then but I think it would be a fun exercise for the now, until I can travel internationally again. It’s nice to look back at old memories with new eyes isn’t it!
File under: places here in California that I wish I’d planned to spend this long holiday weekend but LOL how is it already the end of May?! Memorial Day completely snuck up on me this year and I am in shock it’s already almost June. 😂 Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I hope you and your loved ones are safe & happy as you read this ❤️
Seeing lots of people who are vaccinated, planning to travel within the USA this summer and if you are, may I submit Charleston as an option 💁♀️ We went there a few years ago now for 4th of July and it was lovely. It’s a charming city with an incredible culinary scene [looking at you @butcherandbee!], friendly locals and a boutique hotel that made us feel oh-so-comfortable away from home with a welcome cocktail, complimentary butler service and breakfast in bed. Hello @spectatorhotel I’m talking about you 😉😘 They also had bicycles for guests and we thought seeing the city by bicycle was easy as well as safe. Not a bad town for walking either, it’s not that large. Just please do your research before you do book anything and please practice safety if you do visit. But I woke up feeling like I wanted to give some love to a place we paid to vacation in and felt was very worth the money in the past since I can tell some people are gearing up to get out there again. And we are too - but with a lot of caution - we’re embarking on our first trip together since the pandemic began, today. Just one night up the coast and back again for an outdoor art event. Before heading out, I finished this week’s newsletter and devoted it to creative people who inspire me. Lots of photos, illustration, dance, writing and more that I turn to when I need to see beauty and feel joy through art. I hope you will enjoy this issue. Lastly, I’m giving 75% of all proceeds from any India prints sold this month to COVID relief in India. Please spread the word, I’d like to raise as much as possible. Link in my profile to shop! I wish you all a hopefully wonderful — and safe — weekend wherever you are in the world. ❤️
I still vividly remember the circumstance that led to this photo. We were in a crowded market area of Jodhpur rushing to make our way toward a textile shop, when I saw this man with the most beautiful smile sitting and making marigold chains. It was the fragrance of the basket of roses beside him that caught my attention after his smile. Quickly clocking my interest, he handed me one of the largest roses and insisted I enjoy it with his compliments before allowing me to quickly take his photo and then rejoin my group. And for more than 24 hours that rose perfumed first the bag I carried it in and then the room I slept in before finally wilting and losing its glorious fragrance. It smelled like the roses they make perfume with in Grasse. It smelled like spring and hope. It wasn’t like the roses you buy in supermarkets or in bulk from vendors on Valentine’s Day. The kindness of that interaction and so many more like it during my visits to India inspired me to make it the focus of this week’s newsletter. They’re trying to survive another wave of COVID that is one of the worst any country has experienced since this all began. It’s too easy to wonder if we can even make a difference. But I’m convinced there are small things we can do that have power especially if we’re doing them together. So I spent all week researching, talking to friends with family in India and listening to followers in India to compile a list that’s part of the newsletter. And here on Instagram, I wanted to tag some makers and creators who are in India or who are Indian that we could support with purchases to gift or keep. It was @jaminidesign who sent me the embroidered pillow in the second photo that I literally carry with me from room to room. I love it so much and adore the fact that it helps me feel connected to both France and India even when I can’t be in either and don’t know when next I will be able to. India and its people have given me so much kindness and in this latest issue I just wanted to give a little back to them. I hope you will join me when you see ‘An Eye for Life’ in your inbox tomorrow. ❤️ And if you have suggestions for ways to help, please leave them in a comment 🙏
In what is perhaps no surprise to those who know me best, I’m taking you to Scotland in the newest issue of my newsletter that went out this morning! In fact I had to laugh at one friend that said, “My only surprise is that it took you four issues to do so.” It includes some tidbits you might not know about Scotland and some good news for voting rights that I found out about yesterday. Is anyone planning a trip yet?? I ask because I keep getting asked this now that I’m fully vaccinated but I’m more worried about everyone not being vaccinated where I’d want to travel yet. And I feel tremendously privileged to even consider traveling again with situations like what is happening in India, which then makes me feel guilty. There’s a lot of layers to emerging from this pandemic that I don’t think are being discussed in depth but you know you can always rely on me to be considering all the sides. Perhaps over-considering. Anyway, I truly hope you have a good weekend wherever you are in the world. ❤️ 🏴 #visitscotland #edinburghscotland #visitedinburgh #scotlandisnow #scotlandisbeautiful #scotlandtravel #scotlandforever #edinburgh_snapshots
It’s late at night on a mid-June day in Iceland. It’s not dark and it won’t be, except for two short hours still to come. Still the clocks on our phones tell us that were we at home, we would have been in bed hours ago. We are driving the streets of a small town in Iceland’s northern fjords looking for a place to stay.... . . and so the story begins in the newest issue of my newsletter that went out this morning. It’s all about kindness, the small Icelandic town [which I visited before the pandemic!!] that’s in this photo and a little bit about Earth Week. Subscribe to read the whole story at the link in my profile if you haven’t already or read this and my other issues right on the site. . . #iceland #icelandtravel #iceland🇮🇸 #icelandphotography #icelandroadtrip #siglufjörður #visiticeland🇮🇸 #visiticeland #iceland_photography #icelandicadventure #icelandisawesome
bit of a random photo taken in Minneapolis years ago to say that I see the accountability that happened yesterday, I see the journey toward some healing that it represents, I am thinking of you and feeling all the feelings with you — but for all of us who care about racial justice: remember yesterday was only one step towards what we need in this country. Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police in Ohio right around the time the verdict was being read. we must ensure momentum doesn’t drop and that the fight continues ❤️ #blacklivesmatter
✨ for those who just need to see a pretty photo in their feed today . . . . No poppies were harmed in the making of this photo. I was on the path when I took this. I don’t really have anything to say that wouldn’t be about how heartbroken I am because of racism, shootings and injustice. This week it sometimes seemed like every few hours there were more. So here’s a pretty photo because the irony of the world is that while it’s filled with things and people that break us or people we care for - even while that’s happening, beauty is still all around. We just have to choose to look for it? This was found the last time there was a Superbloom here in California. It’s like that lyric, “and the world spins madly on.” In tomorrow’s newsletter, some ways you can help ❤️
A heartfelt short essay about what’s happening in Northern Ireland was part of the first issue of my new Weekly Newsletter that went out this morning. If you weren’t subscribed, you can get on the list for the next one at the link in my profile. I had such a beautiful, welcoming time there before the pandemic - that seeing fiery photos from Belfast this week broke me open. The images felt like a deeper metaphor for all the pain and angst everywhere in the world. I can’t snap my fingers and end any conflicts. But I can share pretty photos, like you asked me to do two posts back. Here’s to hoping there’s some light after all the darkness we have lived through, and are living through. Sending you my love.
Do you ever struggle with knowing how to help or what to do when you read or hear about climate change? It all sounds so doom & gloom, so where do you begin or how can you as only one person make a difference? I get it! I’ve had those feelings too! But when I look to the future, I feel hope because of my involvement as an Artist for Air with @tomorrowsair_ & a media member of @impacttravelalliance which exists to help people learn how to support locals and protect the earth when traveling. This month, we’re all working together to encourage people to take action for the planet. Subscribing to Tomorrow’s Air for as little as $10 a month is one way we as passionate travellers can work together to clean carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through direct air capture. The more people that subscribe, the greater the power of our collective action. Since travel contributes significantly to carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and the atmosphere has limits to the emissions that it can contain - so that even if all emissions halted tomorrow, we would still have to clean our atmosphere because it takes hundreds to thousands of years to remove by natural processes alone - I do feel I as a traveler have a greater responsibility to do something. Scientists agree that carbon removal is one of many necessary actions we can take, with others like planting more trees, to solve our atmosphere’s carbon dioxide problem. I’ve already been a Tomorrow’s Air subscriber for a while and I also plant a tree every time I swipe my @Aspiration debit card. I’m proud to voluntarily share these ideas because I think it’s important that we focus on what we CAN do and not just on how large the problem might be! What other ideas do you have? ☀️🐋🌎🌲🌍🌳🌏 🌊✨ Take action with me at the link in my profile. #TomorrowsAir #ThisIsSustainable #climatehope #environmentalsolutions