Instagram Influencer Charly Jordan Reveals The Truth Behind Her Favorite Posts

The thing about social media is, you never really know what lies behind the picture. Unless, of course, you have direct access to the person who posted it. Thanks to H Collective, a digital community of creators, we got to sit down with Instagram Influencer Charly Jordan (whose account has exploded from 50,000 to 1 million fans in the last 18 months!) for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the poignant stories behind some of her favorite posts.

1. The ‘oops’ volcano picture that became a call to action

“This was taken the first time I went to Koloa, Hawaii on a Timothy Sykes charity trip. We were exhausted after doing charity work all day and we decided to go on this helicopter ride afterwards. It was one of the most insane experiences I’ve ever had. I could feel the heat from the molten lava as I was flying over it. The lava would hit the ocean and steam up and it was amazing. To me this was one of the most epic things I’ve ever done. It happened half a year ago and I posted the photo on Instagram a couple weeks back, right when I received it. Unbeknownst to me, the volcano had recently erupted. I’d been in and out of the country so I was a little disconnected at the time I posted the photo with a really lighthearted caption. Someone from Hawaii immediately called me out and others started commenting the worst things. But I love Hawaii! I never would have intentionally posted something insensitive. I decided to keep the photo up but I changed the caption into an apology, explaining that I had no idea what was going on and also encouraging people to channel their energy into helping those who needed it.”

2. When you’re not quite ready, but you make it work anyway

“This is the first trip that I ever did outside of the US — to Mexico with H Collective. I was so nervous and I was the one with the least amount of followers on this trip. I was starstruck by Brandon Woelfel. He’s this tall, thin, super artsy sweet guy. And this was the first time I’d met someone I really looked up to. I wanted him to shoot me so badly but I didn’t want to ask him. Finally, towards the end of the trip, he asked me to shoot and said he wanted to do something he’d never done before—shoot fairy lights under water. I didn’t have any makeup on and I didn’t feel camera ready but I decided to make it work. He basically just told me exactly how to pose and what to do. And this photo ended up being the first photo in the book that he published!”

3. The photo that belies the journey she took to get there

“This was taken on a trip to South Africa. The levitating guy in the background  is Rory Kramer, the videographer for the Chainsmokers. But the interesting thing about this photo is the journey I took to get there. When you go somewhere, you never know what’s going to happen. Before hopping on the 12-hour flight to South Africa, I had to take a 12-hour flight to London. This was the first time I’d been on such a long flight and I inadvertently ate a meal with nuts in it. I am massively allergic to all nuts, and my EpiPen was beneath the plane in my checked baggage. I didn’t know what to do! Luckily, I had some Benadryl in my purse. You have to take about six Benadryl (enough to make you hallucinate) to counteract anaphylactic shock, so that’s what I did—in between gasping desperately for breath and ignoring requests from the flight staff to take my seat. I honestly thought I was going to die right there on that plane, but I didn’t. By the time I got to South Africa, it was so windy that a lot of the planned activities were canceled. Ultimately, I flew 24 hours to be somewhere for just six days (and almost die along the way!).”

4. The black sand beach that absorbed her tears

“There were four or five other girls on this black sand beach shoot and none of them were talking to me. When it comes to taking pictures, girls can be very competitive. I was just kind of sitting there while they were doing group pictures. Looking back, this photo reminds me of the competitive nature of Instagram. Their behavior really shook me, and made me feel insecure. I remember lying there wondering if my body looked good. I think exclusion is a form of bullying.”

5. How to spin disappointment into a win

“This was taken in Honolulu, and it was a really sad day for me. I was in Hawaii shooting for a well-known brand that flew me out there with another model. We’d been shooting for maybe two days and we were supposed to be there for five but halfway through the trip they decided to send us home because they said it was easier / cheaper to hire models in Hawaii than to pay us our day rate. I got angry and then I decided to turn this into a good situation. I told the other model we were going to stay in Hawaii anyway. I have a friend on the island who picked us up and let us stay at his place for the next week and we continued to take pictures and videos and spin the whole situation into a positive. I’m so glad I decided to stay and explore rather than let some weird grown man make us feel bad. This photo was taken ten minutes after he told us he was sending us home. I had been crying, but my eyes look really clear because I’d just been crying.”

6. The visible shift from travel to high fashion

“This is the first time I ever did a photo shoot in New York City. I’d flown out there for the H Collective magazine we were shooting. I was nervous because I’d never done a topless picture—this was the first time I’d done anything like this. I was 18 years old, staying by myself in the city. I had all of these expectations and I showed up and it was just me and the photographer and his dog and we shot on a couch in his apartment. He was super nice and we shot for three hours and this picture was one of the first I posted that did really really well on my account. These pictures were kind of a turning point in my career whereby I shifted from strictly travel / fun to high fashion.”

7. The nature shot that captured Reddit’s attention

“This picture was definitely a turning point in my career (before the couch picture). This is what got me into the nature scene. It was taken in Eden, Utah, in this little secluded place that takes hours to get to. I went there to meet my friend Zach Allia. So this guy pulls up with like five kinds of birds (owls and falcons) in his truck. He was a professional bird handler. The handler is standing right behind us. When he tilted his hand the owl extended its wings. This photo ended up being on the front page of Reddit for two weeks in a row!”

8. The (actually) magical rainbow

“I have a lot of busy days but this was one of the most chill days ever. It was really magical. It doesn’t even look real. Earlier that day I’d met someone I’d looked up to for a really really long time, Jay Alvarrez. He’s one of the first people who started traveling for Instagram and he kind of pioneered the influencer market. What I learned from meeting Jay is that 95% of the time when you meet someone, there’s no way they’re going to be anything like you thought. He was the great person I thought he was gonna be, but at the same time, he was different from what I expected. He’s a very exotic, eccentric person. To me, this photo represents the fact that you should never make assumptions over social media.”

9. Another day, another rainbow

“This is the Na Pali coast and it’s really really hard to get to. We did a three-mile hike to get to this lookout point but the most important aspect of this shoot was that I was able to get amazing pictures because I cared about the person taking the photo. Something I don’t think people realize is that I’ve had to completely sacrifice romantic relationships because I travel so much. What’s a relationship if you don’t see someone for a three-month stretch? I just haven’t been able to keep up with people. But just because I don’t date someone doesn’t mean that I don’t fall in love. There are several people I’ve had to consciously step away from in favor of pursuing my career. This picture is symbolic of love, happiness, and heartbreak.”

10. Damn, this is my life

“This was taken recently, at EDC in Las Vegas. I’ve been to EDC several times because I was born and raised in Las Vegas, but this last time was the first time I went as more than a regular spectator. This year Insomniac brought me and a photographer out to shoot, which was mind-blowing. To actually work an event I’d grown up loving was amazing. We were let in two hours early so we could shoot the sunset before anyone else got there. You can see I’m kind of blissfully enjoying this. It’s my hometown and I’ve come so far in the last year and a half to be able to do this. It was a moment. In this picture I realized, damn, this is my life.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I adore the following, in no particular order: knee-high tube socks, acrostic poetry, and my little brother. Click here to learn more!

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