Global Photography Lead | PAYPAL

Kristen Fortier is an experienced photographer and art director based in sunny San Francisco, California. She currently works as the Global Creative Lead of Photography at the worldwide mega-bank we all know and love, PayPal. She was previously photo editor at WIRED, Men’s Journal and has produced work for Cabin Porn, AFAR, Runner's World, Dwell and Target.


1.    What was your very first job? What does it feel like to look back at it now?

I worked at an Italian Bakery. I still bake creations that look like they could be on Netflix’s Nailed It!, so it’s a good thing I ended up as a creative in Photography.


2.     Please describe, in your own words, what your current job is and what work it entails.

I lead global photography for PayPal. I do everything and anything photography related for the company, leading brand photography, communications photography, overseeing editorial shoots with our top executives and more. I also have the opportunity to work on photography projects for some of our other brands, Venmo, Braintree and Xoom. I hold a somewhat unusual role because I while oversee the look and feel for our brand photography overall, art directing and producing our shoots, I also photograph many of our brand shoots myself. I hire photographers to shoot projects when I am not available to shoot it or cannot travel to the location of the shoot and when we want to hire another photographer for some of our larger advertising campaigns.


3.    How did you discover that the creative world is right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? Which train of events did bring you to where you are today?

In my freshman year of Highschool, I was an outcast with purple hair and was taking a woodshop class. The class was filled with a bunch of macho guys who were throwing wood at me and I wanted out. The only available class to switch into that period was photography and while I was always interested in art randomly switching into a photography class was a real turn in my creative path. I also had a moment when I started working as a photo editor at Men’s Journal magazine, where I knew I was really excited about the process of telling a story through photography.



4.     In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how and where do you usually find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?

My favorite place to be inspired is looking at photographer’s websites. I can view the images large and like seeing a larger portion of a photographers work in one place. I often ask other photo editors for recommendations when looking for a photographer in specific location or genre. I also go to the websites of photographer reps and look through their talent to find photographers I might not be aware of. The PDN 30 list also a fun place to discover talent too.



5. If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, especially for the creative work and innovation it required rather than its recognition or industry success, what would it be?

While at Wired magazine, I worked on a shoot with photographer Vincent Fournier on anatomist Gunther von Hagens of the Body Worlds exhibits. The final images were hauntingly beautiful and definitely one of my favorites from my career.


6. Which creative disciplines do you commission most, and are most interested in seeing more of? (ie photo, film, social, experiential, vr, etc)

Photography. I’ve worked on film and video projects over the years as well, but I am most passionate about photography.



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