Holly Garner Interview @GoLightly @igdc

1. What inspired you to start taking photos? I have always enjoyed photography. I was the friend in high school taking all the photos of my friends and I so we could capture the memories. Memory has always been important for me and photography is a way of keeping it all tangible. 

2. How has Instagram impacted your photography? Instagram has greatly influenced my work. I've learned so much from the people I follow and they push me to be better in my own work. Instagram has made me more aware and discerning when looking through my lens and it's given me the confidence to try new things and explore ideas more seriously. I still approach photography with my personal taste; I don't post an image I don't enjoy.

3. Tell me more about your role building the @igdccommunity? I joined Instagram three weeks after they launched. I was going through a difficult period in my personal life and it was an outlet that offered a different world view and interactions that weren't familiar. I could escape my drama and look at amazing art. After I got more comfortable in the mechanics of the app, I wanted to venture into the community and see who was in DC and as obsessed with the app as I was. When Instagram encouraged a global community event, the Worldwide Instameet, I looked for one here in town. When I realized no one had planned anything I took the leap and put together a happy hour. I was nervous no one would come but 15 people did and we had an absolute blast. When it was over they all asked what I was going to plan next and I knew I'd better come up with something if I wanted to see them again. I coordinated a photowalk next and we had about 30 people attend. The rest is history. 

4. What do you think people think of when they think of women travelers? Sadly enough I think people immediately envision a women coordinating everything and over scheduling herself and others so they can check off all their must-see to-dos and rarely taking time to enjoy herself. But the reality is we are just as adventurous and curious as the next person. I often travel alone and I love just wandering and finding things along the path. I certainly have my must see list but I've become a much more relaxed traveler over the years. 

5. What type of traveler are you? Very relaxed these days. I try not to schedule too much or create itineraries but rather enjoy a loose approach so I can change with the mood. I love connecting with locals I've met through Instagram and let them show me what they feel is important about their city. I've had incredible journeys with locals and have seen places I probably wouldn't have if left to my own devices. I enjoy seeing the city rather than running around checking off a list of sights. 

6. When did you start traveling?  I really started traveling the world when I studied abroad in London in college. We traveled extensively on the weekends. When I started my career, travel became a job requirement and it takes me all over. It's a great perk of the work. 

7. Why is travel important?  Travel introduces you to the world, to different cultures. It encourages empathy and open-mindedness and I appreciate all I have seen through travel. I feel like I'm more understanding, knowledgeable and appreciative because I've experienced so many different ways of life around the world. I learned to take it easy in Spain, to appreciate the value of community in public squares in Belgium, to enjoy Mother Nature in Australia, to admire everyday beauty in Venice and to value history in Kyoto. 

8. What is the craziest thing you’ve done/experienced while traveling?  Probably being bold enough to reach out and meet perfect strangers. Especially as a woman often traveling alone. 

9. Where was your favorite trip? Why?  It's a toss-up between Sydney and Kyoto. Both places are incredibly beautiful and magical in their own way and I just felt immediate at ease in each place. I met wonderful people that I still call friends in Australia and I took home such amazing memories from Kyoto. 

10. If you won the lottery where would you choose to live? Oh that's tough. I'd probably move to the Pacific Northwest but have apartments in Australia and Scotland. That way I could be close to everything.  

11. Who do you prefer traveling with? I honestly love traveling alone but I also love having family and friends join me. My boyfriend is a great travel companion and so is my mom. And I have fun memories of road trips with my best friend. 

12. What is your favorite souvenir? My photos. They remind me of all I've seen and done and that's the most important.