We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaitlin Plave and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kaitlin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think it’s human nature to be somewhat risk averse as a form of self-preservation, but I’ve found that taking risks is where you see the biggest personal growth. There’s an endless amount of learning that happens when you step outside of your comfort zone; it’s why I chose to move far from home to go to college; why I then left some of my best friends to move across the country with no job; why I studied abroad in a place that I’d never considered even traveling to before then (Israel). We tend to seek our adventures in ways that are tried and true because there’s comfort in that, but choosing to take risks, and explore avenues that aren’t as certain… you’re going to learn things you never knew you never knew. You’re going to test how your mind adapts to fluctuating circumstances, which will help you grow. You’re going to meet people from extremely different backgrounds, and grow to appreciate things you may have misunderstood before. We live in a society that only values risks if they turn out successfully, which makes us afraid to fail. In turn, that prevents a lot of people from ever starting something like a new business, a new hobby, or otherwise. But I’m learning myself that it’s okay to fail; it isn’t embarrassing or the end of the world. Taking that risk may not have panned out, but there are likely a ton of takeaways that you can use to build towards your success in the future. Or maybe it did pan out and was a gratifying experience, which is obviously ideal.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve loved photography from a very young age. I had a toy camera growing up, and it was my favorite item to drag around everywhere. I took my first photo at age 5, of my parents and newborn sister in the hospital, and my mom still jokes that it’s the best picture in the house! I think coming of age in a world full of Instagram photographers, I encounter imposter syndrome often. I feel like a small fish in a big pond, which can cause me to feel less proud of my photography. And I hate feeling like a cliché when so many people share the same hobby. But I’ve been starting to realize that I do my photography for myself. It’s obviously an innate part of me that’s been present from a young age, and it’s always brought me joy. And if it speaks to other people, too, then that’s fantastic, but I’m not going to fret if I don’t have as many followers or likes as someone else, because that’s not the point. I’ve gotten some feedback from followers that they like my work because it’s more authentic than many other travel accounts; I don’t photoshop anything in, I don’t enlarge certain highlights of a landscape to make them look more impressive, and I don’t over-HDR my photos with non-natural colors. So I’m proud to hear that people appreciate that my photos actually look like what they’ll see while traveling. I decided to start my travel photography Instagram account because I liked my work, and I thought it was a shame that it was just sitting in folders on my computer. Revisiting these pictures and all of the places I’ve been has only further sparked my love for travel and ignited the need to go even more places!

When it comes to traveling, my goal is to try anything and everything. Never let negative assumptions rule out an experience. Don’t think the small town you’re going to pass will be worth seeing? Think again – there is almost always something interesting about a place or a hidden gem to be found. Don’t only visit the places influencers suggest. Find your own path to somewhere you never would have planned. Get lost in a city instead of following an itinerary. I keep a list of places I want to travel around the world so that I can consult it when I plan trips. A lot of times I have certain places that I want to hit, but oftentimes I’ll stay in an Airbnb outside of city center, amongst more of the locals, and I visit those bars, coffee shops, book stores, etc. without having any real plan. Just sort of taking random turns to see where they lead me.

And see your own country first – that’s one of my favorite pieces of advice that I’ve received. We glamorize traveling abroad, but America has stunningly beautiful and diverse landscapes/cities that are cheaper and easier to travel to. I’ve been to all 50 states and each one has a ton to offer. I’ve also tried to really say “yes” to things that I’ve been scared to do. I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, I’ve been a winemaking apprentice, I’ve traveled both domestically and abroad alone – all things that required me to go way outside of my comfort zone. I credit those adventures (and many more) for helping to make me more well-rounded. Traveling is the easiest way to gain perspective on the world, but not if you tailor it to be too specific or narrow – let some of your traveling unravel organically and you’ll be amazed at what you encounter.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I literally have started keeping a list because my friends do visit Denver so often! Depending on the time of year, we’re definitely going to go for a hike up in the Boulder area – I’m a huge fan of Indian Peaks Wilderness for beginner hikers. I also like taking a drive through the RM Arsenal to see buffalo. Or if it’s winter, we’ll be going to Breck or Vail for a weekend of skiing, tubing, and apres-ing. In Denver I love the Family Jones, Nocturne, Adrift, and Cerebral. For dessert we’d go to Sweet Cooie’s, and for pizza you can’t beat Cart-Driver. For more mainstream spots, maybe I’ll take them to Punch Bowl Social or Avanti, but it totally depends on the type of friend who is visiting! We’d catch a Rockies game and obviously newbies would need to see Red Rocks. I also love zipping down to CO Springs to visit the Garden of the Gods, Olympic training facility, and Pike’s Peak for the views.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people in my family who have fostered my love of traveling and photography. My parents always made sure we were traveling to new places on vacations; my grandparents took me abroad for the first time; my aunts invited me on their cross-country roadtrip with them and gave me my first true glimpse at the landscapes of America. And they were all so patient when I needed to stop at every lookout to take photos, too! So I definitely owe a ton of credit to the support and experiences that my family has lended me since I was a kid.

Instagram: @kaitchmeifyoucan

Image Credits
all credits are mine – Kaitlin Plave

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.