Airbnb Magazine

Creative Director: Michael Wilson
Director of Photography:
Natasha Lunn
Contributing Photo Editor: Katie Dunn
Senior Photo Editor: Gabrielle Sirkin
Art Director: Mallory Roynon
Designer: Lisa Lok

Heidi: Tell us about the magazine, how often does it come out and where can we find it?

Gabrielle: Community is at the heart of Airbnb and the magazine is a place where readers can feel at home in the world. We cover authentic travel around the globe, with the aim of uncovering hidden gems through our Airbnb host’s insights and inspiring people to travel the way locals live. We try to embody those visceral moments through visual storytelling. The Spring 2018 issue is our third issue with three more this year. Airbnbmag is print and digital, distributed to the Airbnb community globally and can be found on newsstands in North America.

What are you looking for in someone’s work?
Natasha Lunn, our Director of Photography, Katie Dunn, our Contributing Photo Editor and myself (Senior Photo Editor) make up the photo team. We are looking for someone with a unique point of view who can photograph experiences with a sense of spontaneity and authenticity. We want the viewer to feel engaged and inspired. We also bring a diversity to the photography by using photojournalists, documentary, fine art, street and landscape photographers. And whenever possible, we try to use local photographers in the regions we are shooting.

Is the entire magazine shot?
I would say about ninety percent of the magazine is original photography. For us, the magazine is so much about the community and people that we often go deep into these cultures seeking out the undiscovered.

Are you assigning these stories or are photographers coming with pitches?
We’re assigning based on writer’s stories but also approaching photographers who may have ideas for beautiful photo essays with a unique point of view  that can speak nicely to the Airbnbmag reader and community.

Where are you searching for photographers since you’re in the global arena?
That’s a good question! I must say, largely Instagram. So many photographers are using the Instagram Stories feature to inform editors of their whereabouts. We’ll also look at global, regional and online publications, which are always great resources for discovering local talent.

Do you work with satellite photo editors?
The photo team is made up of Natasha Lunn, Director of Photography, Katie Dunn Contributing Photo Editor and myself, Senior Photo Editor. Natasha and Katie work from the New York Hearst office and I work remotely from LA (where I live). When Natasha was brought on to launch the magazine, she asked me if I’d want to join and of course I jumped at the opportunity. Natasha and I used to work together at More Magazine a few years back (which has since folded) and work very well together. It makes the bi-coastal relationship really fluid and strategic especially when dealing with different time zones and global production. Katie has great travel related photo editing experience, so we’ve been able to direct and produce the magazine by collectively pulling all our resources together!

Do you use Instgram to source talent?
I discovered photographer Julia Sellmann on Instagram. We absolutely loved her work and asked her if she was working on any personal projects that would be nice for the Spring 2018 issue. She proposed a continuation of her project on the Mongal Dosha, a somewhat complicated and controversial system of beliefs in India. We sent Julia to Jaipur, Tarapith and West Bengal for ten days to document the Mongal Dosha (a condition where if the planet Mars is in a certain position in a woman’s birth chart, it could have negative impacts on the success or failure of a marriage) and the Indian astrologers who are consulted prior to the marriage. She did an incredible job of capturing a relatively abstract concept of beliefs and myths in a visceral way. The body of work is lyrical and transcendent. 

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