Sasha Zvereva is a graphic designer, photographer and runs the popular Instagram account @sanfrancisco, capturing daily life in San Francisco. Her photography knowledge and keen eye for design has helped her create beautiful visual stories that people want to follow.
In addition to being an Intellifluence Influencer, Sasha is an expert in travel, outdoors, hotels, fashion, restaurants, local shopping, automotive, photo gear and other tech gadgets. She has a loyal following in San Francisco and California, who love discovering new things.
In addition to her Instagram account, Sasha provides a more in-depth look into life in San Francisco as well as her photography portfolio on her website, Sasha Stories.
How did you get started as an Influencer?
I would say I started more as an amateur photographer in the days before Instagram became Instagram. And the concept of [being] an Influencer – I just kind of stumbled in randomly and I still kind of find it a very strange name or sort of category of a profession that people refer to as an Influencer. I think the point where I stopped being an amateur photographer and more of an Influencer is when I just decided to share a lot more information about San Francisco and decided to provide more guided information, kind of very specific spots, when I started tagging places, locations, when I started answering people’s questions.
Plus I think when I started the blog, potentially I would also say that was potentially more where I feel like I became more of an Influencer because people started looking up to me and asking me questions on things to do and experiences to experience in San Francisco, and restaurants to go to… I would say that was probably around three years ago, I would say. But I have been doing Instagram photography since 2010, essentially.
As someone who is especially talented at telling visual stories through Instagram, what are some mistakes you notice that other Instagram users might make and do you have any advice that could help Instagram users tell better visual stories?
I would say the most important one is just mastering the skill of photography and editing images and making them look really good and interesting. Making sure that it’s not just a random image you put out there, but something that is meaningful that other people will find useful and interesting. Maybe that will inspire them in some form or another… I would say just making sure the images are really beautiful, because I think that’s what people respond to the most and it truly captures their attention. If you have a bigger story to tell, once you have a gorgeous image, people will pay attention and they will read what you have to say in the caption.
As a successful Influencer, what has been your favorite brand partnership to date?
I had a really interesting partnership with Capital One recently, where it wasn’t just me creating content for them… It was also them doing a profile on me as a photographer so they followed me around for a day, documenting what I do and doing a profile on me as a photographer. It also related to the project I did with them. They recently launched a money coaching series that they offer at their bank so I went through that personally and I told my story to my audience – what my expectations were, what my experiences were. When they did this documentary about my work, following me around the city, they also tied in my experiences of how money coaching has helped me do my work better as a photographer.
It’s interesting because I’ve been thinking of doing a money coaching session/business coaching session, which this turned out to be and I found it just randomly fell into my lap as a project at the time when I was thinking about it [the subject] the most so I would say that was the most interesting. It was meaningful to me and now I keep telling all my friends, maybe they should go and try this. I think a partnership with a brand is great when even after you do your sponsored post, you still go around and tell your friends about it.
What is your favorite neighborhood in San Francisco (to photograph, or otherwise)?
I really love photographing the bridge – the Golden Gate Bridge. Marshall Beach, I would say is my favorite place, or just any of the beach locations… But the Golden Gate, just because that place looks really amazing both at sunrise and at sunset. Also, if you stay an hour after the sunset, you have the blue hour and once the blue hour passes, you have the night, so you really get a range of photographs and you also get to photograph with a tripod so you can do a time-lapse, you can do long exposure images… Creatively, you get more content you can create – just being in one spot.
What has been the strangest influencer request you have ever received?
I think I don’t respond to those [laughs]. I did have one, I wouldn’t call it strange, but I did have one – I don’t even know what would be the right way to describe it. It was a request from a Chinese vodka brand, out of China, wanting to promote in San Francisco. I kind of decided not to work with them because I’ve never had Chinese vodka – my Dad actually has a bottle of Chinese vodka sitting on his liquor cabinet, from a friend and we’re literally kind of afraid of opening it because we’ve never had an experience with Chinese vodka and the brand really didn’t present itself in a way that they offered me to try it first… They wanted to go into a partnership or collaboration where I would be responsible for creating content… So that was, in terms of a bigger brand partnership, [one] that I thought I would not be able to do without knowing that it was really good and without wanting to recommend something that I would [otherwise] not recommend or would enjoy myself.
Where do you see influencer marketing in five years?
Looking at everything that’s been happening, in the Instagram world and the way it’s been turning out, I think it’s going to be even bigger than it is now. It doesn’t seem to be going away. I think there will be more bloggers, photographers, professionals getting into the influencer world. Or potentially everyone will consider themselves an influencer (in some sort of way) because I think a lot of brands are looking at micro-influencers (people with less than five thousand followers), essentially all of their friends.
I think there will be a bigger push in that area where brands will work with individuals [with a smaller audience] to create content and I think everyone will just get really good at creating content. I think in the same way as photographers who got really good – amateur photographers or even non-photographers got really good at creating visual content, like photography. I think in the next five years, everyone will get really good at creating video content. I think there will be a lot more video content and brands incorporating their product into video and I think that’s where it is going for now.
When did you discover your love for photography?
I took a photography class in high school as one of my electives for art and I just fell in love. I did black and white photography and developed everything in the studio with film photography, we printed our own photographs and then I went to art school for graphic design. So photography and art was kind of always on my radar. Also, my degree is in graphic design and art history so I’ve been doing design as a profession. Photography was always kind of this thing that I was interested in but even though I had a camera, I didn’t use it because I was so busy doing work on the computer and I think it was only when Instagram came around that I started to take more photos, but again – with my iPhone and only later – I think four years later, I got a professional camera and just started shooting with a camera. It’s been a long love for photography.
I’d say San Francisco is one of the best cities to photograph. You have a range of city life, every neighborhood has a different type of architecture… I call it city of a thousand views. There’s so many different views and you’ll probably never get around to seeing all of them. And then you have the nature and the landmarks like the bridges, the Coit tower, the Transamerica (building). As a range for a photographer, I feel it’s the most ideal city to photograph.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the voice behind many of the Intellifluence tutorial videos (for better or worse).