A few months ago browsing the Internet and reading travel related articles, I accidentally stumbled upon the article “Hiking the Stairway to Heaven” written by Anna Cossack – a photographer and travel blogger living in Paris. Needless to say, I was so impressed by her adventure and captivating personality reflected in her words, that I immediately followed Anna’s blog and Instagram account. Beautiful and very talented Ms. Cossack has never ceased to inspire and motivate me ever since. Anna is not your typical blogger. A full-time lawyer, she effortlessly balances her day time job with two biggest hobbies – photography and travel.
I reached out to Anna and asked her 14 questions about her life as a successful travel blogger, photographer and lawyer.
With 19K Instagram followers, I am sure you are recognized by many people, but for those who do not know you yet, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you are from and how you came up with the name Anna Cossack?
Many people think Cossack is my real family name but it’s not true. I chose this nickname because of my father, a native Cossack born in a tiny village near the Don River in the South of Russia. Cossacks isn’t a nationality, even if some people claim it should be recognized as such, it’s a community of free warriors which started to form in the 15th century and became a very particular group with its traditions and rules. I chose this nickname because I want to remember my roots and where I come from.
I moved to France more than 6 years ago and today this country became my second mother land. I work as a lawyer in Paris and really enjoy the rhythm of this dynamic city!
Being a lawyer 5 days a week and a travel blogger on weekends, what is it like to balance these two unrelated careers? What are the hardest and easiest things?
The hardest thing for me is discipline. Writing to the blog is not only about inspiration. Sometimes you have a deadline for the article and have to publish it despite your tiredness or laziness. It’s important to develop a habit to work on the blog regularly, to find time during lunch breaks or in the evening, sometimes scarifying meetings with friends or other interesting activities.
The easiest thing is to find a subject of the article. I have tens of topics in my head I’d love to write about, so it’s only a question of time and my capacities.
What does a typical day in Anna Cossack’s life look like?
I spend most of my day at the office – from 9am to 7pm I’m a head of the legal department and work really hard.
Every morning I go to the gym to have one hour workout or yoga session – or in summer I do a jogging outside. I don’t love training in the evening when I have other more important things to do.
I usually write to my blog during my lunch break and in the evening I love cooking for my boyfriend and having dinner together. We don’t have a TV at our place and dinner is really an important moment of the day when we chat together, share the news and enjoy each other’s company.
As a travel blogger, who or what influences you to choose your next travel destination?
Mostly it’s the photographers and travelers that I follow on Instagram. They share their experiences all around the world and it’s very inspiring, especially when they are good story tellers. I also check some travel sites and magazines, listen to my friends’ advice, get inspired by the books… It’s a constant process, sometimes you dream to visit some place and then you lose your interest…
What are your favorite places that you have visited so far?
I’m a BIG fan of Italy and return to this country at least 3-4 times per year. Still plenty places which I want to discover there!
I also adored Hawaii and could imagine living there one day…
Moving to your other passion – photography, how did you start? Where do you get inspiration for your photos?
My passion for photography came after I had started my blog. For my first articles I used the iPhone photos and then step by step I began to improve. I bought my first reflex camera, Sony, and went to Milano Fashion Week. I had a friend who was fond of street photography and introduced me to the world of fashion. But I never stop; I’m still in search, my style, my interests change and cameras too…
As a winner of photography competitions such as “Do it in Paris”, do you think that some day in the future you might leave your day job and become a full-time travel photographer?
Well, it was a tiny competition to be honest… I’m proud of some of my photo projects in the last years, for example, I worked with Google on their new Neighborhood application. But I’m still not ready to get off my lawyer’s job and become a full-time photographer. I don’t want to lose my freedom to choose the projects and the clients with whom I want to work, don’t want to accept the photo shoots only because of money. In fact, I’m afraid to lose a part of pleasure if my hobby becomes my main work.
What essential camera equipment do you always take on your travels?
My Nikon D750, my tripod, ND filter and a good backpack!
You have grown a dedicated following on Instagram over the last couple of years, what do you think has helped you to create this amazing community of loyal supporters?
I try to share my vision of beauty – and glad when people love it and join my Instagram journey. I don’t take the numbers very seriously. The quality of my work is much more important for me. But it’s a pleasure to show my followers the most beautiful places I visit and the most beautiful moment.
What has been Anna Cossack’s key recipe for success?
The quality of content.
What advice would you give someone who wants to travel more?
To use every opportunity to travel – make more weekend escapes for example. One doesn’t necessarily need to go far away – sometimes we can discover fantastic locations just around the corner! It’s important to dedicate time to plan your next trips, to make a research and define the itinerary. As for money – it’s always a question of priorities. If you want to travel, there are many ways to do it without spending a lot and getting lots of pleasure anyway!
What advice would you give for someone to improve their photography skills?
To practice all the time and use any opportunity to learn more about photography. Communicate with other photographers, exchange experience, get advice. Go to the photo exhibition – they develop the artistic taste and give you new ideas.
What is next on you bucket list for 2018?
Norway, Japan and NY are two most epic trips I plan this year. There will be also plenty of weekend escapes in Europe.
Looking further down the track, where do you see yourself in five years?
My family life is my priority for the moment and in five years I definitely see myself married with the man of my life and happy together! For the rest I have no idea where my artistic and professional journey will take me but I’m looking forward to discover it!
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