Sunday, September 23, 2012

Some places seem more Instagram-friendly than others. One flip through your feed will tell you that people love bridges and skylines, meadows and big skies. The tropics are popular, too. 

We're about to make our triumphant return to sunny Florida. We were last here in May, before it got unbearably hot, and will be back again in just a couple of weeks. As fall and winter progress in Toronto, I love the way my Instagram feed vacillates between the greys and browns of one season into the blues and oranges of Tropical America. 


Obviously the greatest gift The Internet has given is the ability to see so much of the world, at a glance. Instagram takes it to a new level, allowing us to enjoy both the ultra-mundane and the incredibly rich aspects of the entire world, with such ease, throughout the day. We get to peek into the lives of friends and strangers all over the globe making it, once again, even smaller. All manner of trips to the market, dinners with friends, streetscapes and coffee cups. And aside from the day-to-day stuff, we also get a front row seat to monuments, sites and rarely-seen places all over the globe. We wake each day to the sunsets of dozens of locales, or get an inside-scoop on cities that we may never reach.

But remember: Your city is unique and exotic and interesting to somebody. Try to be a tourist in your own town. Show it off as if it's the Great Wall of China. And while Fort Lauderdale, Florida isn't Paris or the bubbling baths of Iceland, it is another place, another string connected to yet another pin on a map we're all creating together.

A great example of all the things I've "Schooled" in this series, @JessaWorks is traveling across America in an Airstream trailer with her husband and kids, capturing every tiny moment and also showing us parts of the US with which we may not be so familiar. She's consistent and artful and her family is beautiful, which doesn't hurt. Most recently she's been in Iceland (though I think they left the Airstream stateside) and her images there haven't disappointed. (And imagine being able to say you're "Location independent." Ugh, the dream!)

My real-life friend Ryan Marshall (@ryanmarshall__) has taken to Instagram on a one-man mission of another sort. As a born-and-bred Floridian, he wants to show you the Florida he knows. Not the Mickey Mouse Florida or the debauched southern tip, but the middle parts and the Panhandle and the gorgeous, mysterious areas we never hear about. This summer his family zigzagged across the state to show us rivers and springs and the Forgotten Coast. Ryan's Florida is one I'd like to visit.

Check these feeds out, and consider using your Instagram as a platform for proudly showing off the places you go. Tell us the story of somewhere, even if it's "just" the town you've called home for 25 years. Show us how you love it and remember that even the most mundane moments in the place you are is a vicarious trip to an exotic place for somebody, somewhere else.

Snapseed (Available here. It's $4.99, but well worth it. I am in no way affiliated with this app.)

Aside from Instagram itself, Snapseed is the most-used app in my phone. I edit (to some degree) every image that goes through my feed. No shame! You can adjust the basics (brightness, contrast) and also next-level stuff like sharpness and white balance. My favourite tool is Selective Adjust, which allows you to place edit points on the image and manipulate details, whether it be brightening a face, lightening an underexposed doorway or adding contrast where there wasn't enough. It allows you so much control and can save a throw-away photo.

BONUS TIP: When White Balance just won't do, use Selective Adjust to clean up your whites. Isolate the item (most-often a plate in my case) and Brighten it a little, then drag out the Saturation so it's neutral. Brannan (my filter of choice) tends to warm up whites, so I sometimes overcompensate by cooling an image more than I might normally, in order to balance it out.

The app is quite comprehensive, so feel free to make it work for you. 

Instagrammar School 1 (June 26, 2012)
Instagrammar School 2 (July 5, 2012)


  1. I just love this post. It makes me want to get out and show people what my new home of Las Vegas is all about, besides the oh-so-over-taken strip photos.

  2. So many great tips! I need to get out more in my city. Force myself actually.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Oooh, it's free now. Even better :)

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