For some reason, when you're holding a camera and a bottle of champagne, people listen to anything you tell them to do.
On that note, in terms of branding, your site has always been user-friendly and included social media integration. What trends and strategies have been most important to you in getting people to share your work?
My goal with the site from the very beginning was to give people what they came for — photos. When I started, a lot of nightlife photo sites weren't as concerned with delivering a good product as they were getting emails to blast people about upcoming parties.
My goal was to keep it simple. Photos. That's it. I shot you. You got a card. You went to my site. You saw your photo.
I had a day job working at a comedy club when I started, so money wasn't the driving force. I think that's important in any successful career. Don't let money drive your brand. I didn't need money to make KWH work. I just went out to the best parties I could find and shot.
Within weeks, my photos were all over Facebook with my little watermark in the corner.
I never ran ads. I never will. I think that keeps people loyal. They see a very grass-roots approach. The formula hasn't changed, and it never will.
Let's talk about Champagne Facials. It's blowing up. Have you had the idea for while? Did someone suggest it?
This is an interesting story. So I started shooting brunches about a year ago. Just like the rest of the world, I had no idea that NYC does brunches much differently than any other place.
When I tell people that some NYC brunch parties are the sloppiest, wettest, and most drunkest shitshows I've ever been to, they are blown away.
I was shooting these brunches, and I found that sometimes I needed to spice up the party in the beginning. I'd steal a few bottles of champagne from the bar and just offer free champagne to girls. I'd tell them I was going to pour it in their mouths, and they may get wet.
For some reason, when you're holding a camera and a bottle of champagne, people listen to anything you tell them to do. So I had this little collection of champagne facials.
It wasn't until recently when I joined Instagram (before I got kicked off for posting too many boobs, I now have a new account), that I started posting a few of these facials on Instagram and started getting a HUGE response. They were by far my most popular photos.
So on a whim at like 11 p.m. on a Thursday night I decided, "Fuck it. I'll build a Tumblr page just for Champagne Facials. I kid you not. Within a day, I had people asking me to facial them at parties. Within a week, Champagne Facials surpassed the traffic on Kirillwashere.
I get it. It's a very viral, social site. It's beyond huge. It's gone worldwide — France, Brazil, Poland, Denmark, etc. It gets about 3 tweets an hour. Glamour Paris did a write-up on it. I mean, the thing is a fucking monster. I barely do any promo for it on my social networks.
So now I keep it in the back of my head every night I shoot to get a few facials, so I always have fresh content. It's not hard either, because at this point, girls are literally asking to be facialed. Last week at a party, I was talking to the bartender, and I heard a girl behind me say to her friend, "You think Kirill will give us a facial tonight?" The end result of this project is to do a book.