Adventurer Of The Month
– Amanda Ciurdar –
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself
Wow, what can I tell you in a few short sentences that somehow represents who I am? I suppose I’ll dive into the obvious. I’m a Jesus lover originally from Southern California, but I don’t belong here. I love gloomy days and rain and fog and forests and adventure – things you either don’t get much of here, or things you have to search pretty dang hard for! My husband Sam and I have been married almost 5 years (time really does fly when you’re having fun)! Our cattle dog Charlie is our life. I want to eat him, he’s so deliciously adorable. Sometimes I accidentally squeeze him too hard because I love him so much! Sorry Bub. Anyway, Sam and I have endured almost 2 years of infertility and it’s become a major part of my story. Though that doesn’t have much to do with an adventure-themed interview, every aspect of this trial has molded my perspective on life and gratitude in pretty much every way. Travel and adventure have also changed my life, my marriage, and the trajectory of our family’s future. I can’t wait to implement our life lessons into our littles!
2) Wow we love seeing photos of your adventures, how did it all start for you?
Sam and I had a rough first year of marriage. We had money in savings but had moved to a new city and struggled finding jobs for months. This resulted in blowing through our savings, and nearly having to break our lease to move in with his parents. Six months into our marriage and after many prayers, God showed up in the form of a gameshow called Wipeout – something we applied for just because we loved the show. Little did we know, that Sam would go on to win the $50,000 grand prize, changing our lives forever. Our first trip was taken on our first anniversary, to New York. After a year of constantly worrying about money, it was hard to let ourselves spend anything, but we forced ourselves to enjoy our first anniversary. We grew our Instagram’s by keeping our feeds organic and filled with our adventures, both near and far. Sam’s photography and film also began to boom and I learned photography as well, and now we are a duo photography team that often gets paid to travel and shoot lifestyle and product photography. Nothing has ever been the same since that first trip!
3) Do you have a favorite trip, if so what makes it so special?
Wow… It’s a pretty close battle between Alaska and Iceland, but I’d have to say Iceland was the most magical place I’ve ever been to. I’d seen it in a hundred photos on Instagram from those who’d gone before us, which obviously added to the draw we already felt, but none of that took away from seeing it with our own eyes. It’s hard to communicate with words how special Iceland is. It’s such a small island and once you leave Reykjavík, the towns are few and far between, meaning most of the time it’s you and the landscapes and the elements. On our first night in Iceland, we stayed in a tiny town called Snæfellsnes, with a glacier behind us and an ocean in front of us. The sun rose at 9am and turned everything pink and orange. I’ll never forget it and I can’t wait to be back!
4) You capture the world so beautifully, do you have any tips for new travel photographers?
My first year of photography, I was learning how the heck to work my new DSLR. I had a Canon T3i at the time, and it was very overwhelming not having my settings ready at a moment’s notice, unlike my iPhone. 😉 While I learned my settings, I also learned composition, lighting and lines. I sought to emulate many of the typical photos we see on Instagram everyday: man facing waterfall, guy in canoe on lake, person running on a road. These types photos have been made fun of the past year, but I’m really grateful for them because they gave me something to shoot for. The past year and a half, I’ve been developing my eye. Learning that although I still love the “typical” shots, and capturing beautiful landscapes, I actually love capturing real moments and motion and detail shots. My point is, shoot what you can as often as you can. Be inspired and seek to emulate those who inspire you. As you shoot more and learn your settings and lighting, you will start to learn about where your eyes naturally go. What do you find beautiful? Dewy drops on a leaf at dawn? A sweet moment between a mother and child? The way the light falls on a cup of coffee and a notebook? Capture it all, even those “typical” Instagram shots. And one more thing: don’t forget to put your camera down and enjoy the moment with just your eyes. That is the most important part about adventure.
5) What is that one thing you strongly believe in?
Easy. Vulnerability. I love social media just as much as the next person, but let’s be real: you’re seeing only the highlights of someone’s life. This leads to comparison and longing and feeling like what you have is far from enough. I know, because I still struggle with this. Going through infertility has developed the empathetic, vulnerable part of my character and I’m extremely grateful for it because I now understand how monumentally important those things are. I’m very intentional in sharing both my good and bad days with my audience. Reason: if you were to look at my feed without reading any of the captions, you’d probably assume my life is perfect. I have a very blessed life, no doubt, but it’s far from perfect and I have struggles just like everyone else. One hundred thousand followers doesn’t make going through infertility any easier. Instead, it makes me feel more responsible for the platform I’ve been given, to educate people on the goodness of God in any season, and to encourage people to let themselves be seen. Vulnerability breeds connection – it’s the only path to true connection. So when I see a beautiful feed, but there’s no personality to it, no vulnerability, I’m not interested in following. Because it’s not relatable and it’s creating a fallacy that makes it easy for others to feel less than. I’m not about this. We’re all in this together, and it’s time we start acting like it! I’m a very strong advocate for vulnerability.
6) Can you tell us a little bit about Adventure That Is Life?
ATIL is my husband’s baby (although one day I hope to give him a real one). 😉 He started @AdventuerThatIsLife on Instagram about a year ago during a time where I was too busy to help. It started off as a feature account, and has grown to 60k followers in under a year. We never expected such a great response! Last year, we partnered with a few different brands to release exclusive products such as, leather notebooks, camera straps and @GivePerf throws. In December 2015, we launched our website with our first ATIL products including adventure-themed sweaters and stickers. We have some really amazing things in store for 2016 and plan to release many more adventure-themed products! But honestly, the best part about ATIL is the organization we partner with: Thrive Rescue. In September 2015, Sam and I traveled to Pattaya, Thailand to meet children who’d been rescued from the sex trafficking industry, who were being cared for by Thrive. This ignited the passion that was already close to our hearts, and we decided ATIL would partner exclusively with Thrive, donating 10% of every dollar earned through ATIL to Thrive. We are extremely passionate about this injustice and are grateful for the opportunity to help put an end to it.