We Day: Alen Palander Interview

Story for WE Day’s blog on Instagram Influencer profile (written in WE’s youthful brand voice). Photo from Alen Palander.


If you’re as obsessed with Instagram as we are then you’ve probably come across this popular Instagrammer’s feed before. Alen Palander is a 25­-year-old photographer and creative director from Toronto. His page boasts a following of 109k and counting with stunning photos of his travels, architecture, and of course, cool spots from his local stomping grounds.

Really digging our ME to WE philosophy, Alen wants his work to be about more than his own success. The global-­minded photographer wants to impact the people around him in a positive way. Naturally, he was like 100% when we invited him to collaborate with us at We Day.

Here’s a look at some of Alen’s unique shots from the day, and his perspective on what it’s like to be on the ground capturing our world-­changing movement.

This was your very first WE Day. What was it like being there?
When we first spoke, I still had no idea what it was. It was overwhelmingly interesting to see the amount of people that came out, the support, the team, the amount of detail that went into making it happen—it was beautiful to see.

What were some unique aspects of the event that stood out to you?
There were a lot of kids that you could tell were not only excited about the artists, but they were really there to figure out what it means to be part of a community that’s making an influence and impacting the world. I think the most important aspect of the event is the message of ME to WE.

As a photographer, what was it like to capture WE Day?
It was rewarding. I’m used to capturing fashion or product, which are very still shots of people without much expression. Seeing the kids with bright smiles and the lighting on stage was phenomenal. The entire production was really well played out. It was really nice to capture.


You told us that you never had something like WE Day growing up. How do you think an empowerment event like this would have helped you?I think the WE Day experience with all this exposure to speakers and amazing artists will hopefully motivate these kids to do even bigger things. I never had that growing up. If I did, I might have made some different choices.

Everyone has a few standout moments from WE Day. What were some of your favourites?!
I’m a huge Magic Johnson fan, and I thought it was funny when he made some playful jabs about our local sports teams. He really got to them, which I love because that’s what Toronto’s known for. We have our teams and we support them just like we support each other as a community. Another one was Henry Winkler’s speech. He really resonated with everyone when he talked about his personal experiences. The event wasn’t just about the performances, it was people talking about what they’ve done and how other people can make a difference, too. I really liked that.

As a social media influencer, you automatically have an impact on people. What does influence mean to you?
I think that influence starts with accepting who you are as a person. I grew up wanting to be an architect, but as you grow up, you start to realize that there are other paths you are destined to be on. Design and visual communication tools inspire me. I think that you can take a hobby, an interest, or a career path and use that to have an impact. With my photography, I try to take pictures that somehow have an impact on people whether it makes them smile, inspires them to travel, or opens their mind to new possibilities. The smallest form of influence can make the largest difference. This all goes back to that concept of ME to WE. If everything that I do was just for myself then I’d have a private Instagram account.

Kailah Bharath