Christina Kantzavelos – BuenQamino

From traveling to writing and storytelling, learn how Christina, a dedicated social worker, created the #BuenQamino brand and her advice now to those starting out as models. Check out her story below.

Say hello to Christina:

Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I was born in Long Beach, CA and raised in Orange County, CA. I lived in Los Angeles for a while, but am now in San Diego. I’ve been everywhere – over 30 countries, to be exact!

What’s your favorite place in the world?

This is tough to answer. Like I said, I’ve been all over the world, and due to that, I am partial to a few different places. I’d like to say California is my favorite because it’s the best coast and has so much to offer. Plus, my parents are here. And because I am 100% Greek, I would like to say Greece is also a favorite, because it’s geographically a lot like California and feels like home. But, have you ever been to Switzerland, Iceland, Argentina or Peru? I will go ahead and leave you with a picture that I took of alpacas grazing the land at 21,000 feet elevation, in-between Cusco and Puno (Lake Titicaca), Peru and a photo of downtown Reykjavík.

Alpacas grazing the land at 21,000 feet elevation, in-between Cusco and Puno (Lake Titicaca), Peru

Downtown Reykjavík

Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

I’m a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), international medical volunteer, as well as a travel writer. I can’t imagine not using the time I have to help others in need – which is why I chose social work in the first place. I work in a hospital and visit patients via home health care services. As challenging as social work is, I absolutely love it. However, I had an awakening while completing a pilgrimage across Spain, in September – November of 2015. I realized how much I love writing about and sharing my travel experiences with others. This is when I created @buenqamino to document previous and current travels and to write about them. BuenQamino honors traveling on a global level, aiming to provide a conscience cultural exchange between adventurers and the communities in which they visit. We focus on what fuels the adventurer’s soul. As I build this brand, I intend to continue working as a social worker. I feel honored to serve as a Disaster Mental Health (DMH) worker and a Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer for the Red Cross – responding to disasters and providing support on various military bases within and outside the U.S.

What’s your favorite picture of yourself?

It is difficult to choose my “favorite” of anything so I chose these two photos. The first one is taken by a photographer named Curtis Bailey. This was the first shoot where I had a MUA/Hair Stylist and a wardrobe stylist. I felt so cool and professional, and the photos came out great! The second photo is of me touching the Aurora Borealis in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The Aurora Borealis in Reykjavík, Iceland

What’s your all-time favorite picture?

This is the last photo I have with my brother, who passed away in November of 2007. We were carving pumpkins for Halloween, and it seems to strike me with more emotion than any other pictures in my possession.

What’s your favorite kind of modeling?

I think my favorite kind of modeling includes everyone having a good time and benefitting from the overall experience.

What’s been the most challenging part of modeling, and how do you rise above those challenges?

I believe the most challenging part is making modeling a full-time job. That usually requires getting an agent or two, and even that doesn’t guarantee full-time work. With that said, due to being considered “plus-sized” and having tattoos, it’s been near to impossible to get signed on by an agency. But, that’s okay because I’ve been able to keep it around as a fun, paid hobby when any freelance work comes up.

What was your most memorable modeling-related experience?

This was taken for Novel Swim, an adorable swim line out of Brooklyn, NY. I got to work with a bunch of amazing people, including my friend/wardrobe stylist, Brittany Lamp; my hairstylist/MUA, Meghen Lord; and the talented photographer, Hailley Howard. The best part was jumping into the water during a winter evening – it’s California snow!

What qualities do you think a good photographer must possess?

Confidence, communication, creativity, and lighting knowledge.

How about good models?

Confidence, trust, communication, understanding your body’s dynamic with the camera, creativity, and good listening skills.

Feel free to give anyone you’ve collaborated with kudos here (MUAs, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists, photographers, etc).

Curtis Bailey (Long Beach, CA), Hailley Howard (Laguna Beach, CA) and Carlos Nunez (Los Angeles, CA) are all very talented photographers. Brittany Lamp (Costa Mesa, CA) is an amazing wardrobe stylist, and Meghen Lord (San Diego, CA) is a fantastic MUA and hair stylist.

Who are your role models in the industry?

My role models in the industry include anyone who shakes up the norm, whether that is someone with curves, with tattoos, who is transgender, who has a disability. Beauty is found in all identities!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

On your television, showing you the world! Other than aspiring to be the female version of Anthony Bourdain, I can see myself growing my brand, continuing to blog and write about my adventures, as well as helping others to plan theirs. I can also see myself continuing to work in a clinical capacity, and continuing my volunteer work.

What would you recommend for folks who are just starting out as models?

Be patient, market yourself, and be safe.

Sometimes things happen overnight, but oftentimes they don’t. Work on building a portfolio, as that is where you will gain the most experience and understand the dynamic between yourself and the camera, as well as with photographers.

Market yourself. Create a profile on here, Model Mayhem, and other reputable sites and utilize social media, such as Instagram, to get the word out. You’d be surprised at the amount of companies that have contacted me and other models through this medium. You can also choose to send photographs to various agencies, but know that you can still get work, even without an agent.

As for being safe, especially as a female model, always ask if you can bring someone along with you. I have had a couple of photographers freak out on me, or even gave me a guilt trip when I asked to bring a friend along, and I knew that was a red flag. If you decide to go alone, pin your location to a few people and let them know you will be checking in with them at specific times. Most photographers are amazing, but like anything else, there are a few bad eggs out there.

One song that you want us to add to our photoshoot playlist on Spotify:

Petite Meller’s “Baby Love”.. Or, New Order’s “Age of Consent”… – I can’t choose just one!

For anyone that wants to get in touch with Christina, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Instagram: @buenqamino

Tumblr: Profile

MM: Profile

Christina, thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iPhone here!

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