PHOTOGRAPHER: Kiersten Rich
BASED IN: USA and South Africa
KNOWN FOR: The Blonde Abroad female travel and lifestyle blog
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-H1 Camera, X-T2 Camera, FUJINON XF35mmF1.4 R Lens, XF35mmF2 R WR Lens, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS Lens, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens
Kiersten Rich, otherwise known as The Blonde Abroad, is an award-winning travel and lifestyle blogger who left a corporate career to pursue her passion for travel. Her hugely successful website,The Blonde Abroad, offers solo female travelers tips, fashion, and photography from around the world. It has taken her to over 50 countries and her blog continues to attract visitors from all over the world. We caught up with Kiersten to talk about life, travel, and her new photography tours in partnership with Fujifilm.
So, Kiersten, can you tell us a little about your forthcoming photo tours? What is involved and who are they aimed at?
I launched my extension brand of travel tours, TBA Escapes, in the summer of 2017 because I wanted to create bespoke and educational experiences for female travelers in their twenties and thirties – something I thought was missing in the market. After living in Cape Town, South Africa for a year, I knew it was the perfect spot to host a travel experience that combined an incredible destination with workshops on travel photography, and to ultimately share my expertise with ladies that have been following me for years.
My team and I have created the ultimate nine-day tour of South Africa, including the best of Cape Town, a luxury ‘Big Five’ African Safari, and a stay at historic wineries in the wine region. Attendees are able to loan the latest FUJIFILM cameras and lenses to help them explore and create. With Fujifilm’s help, we’ve been able to mix in photography workshops and editing tutorials, with travel and lifestyle photoshoot opportunities throughout!
How long have you been running these tours?
Almost a year now! I’ve held three tours so far – all in partnership with Fujifilm – and they were attended by 36 ladies from around the world, who have been absolutely amazing. We’re currently booking out two more tours for October and November 2018, again in partnership with Fujifilm, and have a waiting list of over 1,000 women.
What were you doing before you launched The Blonde Abroad? Were you already a photographer at that point?
I had actually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Finance in 2010 and was working in corporate finance for a year or so before deciding that it wasn’t the right path for me. Like many people, I was taught to go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. But after graduating with honors and working at a financial firm in LA, I realized I didn’t want to be in that world.
So, I left my career and took a big leap from stability to a completely nomadic life. At first, my blog was a way to write home and share my experiences with friends and family, but after about a year I decided I wanted to make it more than that. Seven years later, The Blonde Abroad has turned into a multi-level business and is one of the leading female travel resources in the world.
By now, you must have seen a lot of the world. If you were offered the chance to return to any country to shoot images, where would you go?
I’d probably opt for Iceland! I’ve already been twice. It is an incredible country, rich with natural beauty, dramatic landscapes, exciting activities, and offers so much to a photographer!
Okay, and a similar question: if you had the option to settle down in any country, where would you choose?
Well I am a little biased because last year I decided to move to Cape Town and live there half the year. South Africa truly offers such a diverse range of sights, incredible wildlife, and a beautiful coastline – I think it has a little of everything. From a photography standpoint, you could go from the mountains, to the coast, to an authentic safari, all within the same day, so your opportunities are endless.
What’s in store for the future?
Everything! This year I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on video creation using my YouTube channel to showcase the travel footage I’ve saved up over the past few years. I’m currently shooting my videos on the FUJIFILM X-H1 and loving it! I’m also excited to launch my brand new website next month, which has been a year-long project.
Kiersten Rich is a Fujifilm-compensated professional photographer.
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