How Instagram Inspired Me to Create (and How I Used its Downsides to My Advantage)

I’ve been into photography since I was in middle school. I was that girl that took her little digital camera out with her friends and wanted to go on photo shoots for MySpace pics. In high school, I shot strictly with a film camera and developed my work in a darkroom. Senior year, I got my first real camera (yes, the one I still shoot with today. For some reason I haven’t felt like dropping 4k on a new camera body yet). I fell in love with taking photos, but when I got to college my hobby was put to the side for academics and house parties. It was only when Instagram started to get popular that I picked my camera back up.

While working a full-time job post-college and living in Denver, I didn’t have much time for content creating, but now, working only a couple of hours a week remotely, I have all the time in the world to pursue my hobby.  I spend most of my social media time on Instagram, and dug up this old passion in me. You may be eye-rolling, “Is Instagram seriously her inspiration?” Well, sort of. But hear me out.

I began discovering a whole community on Instagram dedicated to producing epic photos of their travel and outdoor adventures . I followed people who inspired me, and suddenly, the Internet was literally doing the opposite it’s known to do – it was getting me outside and traveling. I found myself wanting to inspire others the way others inspired me. People were making literal careers out of this app. Maybe I could work with my favorite brands?! But I needed followers – a lot of them. And a theme. Oh and to join the 471984711398 people trying to do the same thing, oof.

So, I ran into some personal challenges:

  1. I became slightly obsessed with comparing myself to the “experts;” people with 100k+ followers.
  2. I only found inspiration in really, obviously pretty places. Not in the town in which I live. Which was a challenge because said pretty places were at least a 2.5 hour drive. This was a big one.
  3. If I felt that if the people close to me discounted the fact that I use Instagram as an inspiration tool, I felt discouraged and questioned if dedicating my time to this was worth it.
  4. I struggled hard with my theme and how I wanted to market myself.
  5. I hated hashtags. I thought it looked “desperate.”

Ultimately, though, I took these downsides and turned them into an advantage. I did so after I decided that I was going to create content that’s pleasing to the eye, but ensure what I was posting was authentic. Not like, edit-less, or filter-less, but was the moment in that photo real? Was I proud of that shot? Did it inspire me to continue shooting? If yes, I was doing what this platform is meant to do: embrace creativity and encourage others to do the same. Hashtags drove other creators to my page and vice versa – it encouraged me to keep going.

Further, I am still working on finding beauty in the places where it’s a bit harder to seek. Mother Air Force decided to put pilot training bases in the country’s smallest, most eventless towns. This puts a real challenge on creating something aesthetically pleasing, but when I find those moments it actually makes me enjoy where I’m at a lot more. I lived in Columbus, Mississippi at the tail end of Ryan’s Undergraduate Pilot Training. I can tell you that is the least photogenic town in America. But it had epic sunsets over the farmland. When you walked in heavy treed areas during golden hour the sun glared through the branches and it warmed your soul. In Klamath Falls, there is one bar and maybe two cool restaurants. The hills are dry and brown, and the lake isn’t even swimmable. But when the sun hits the lake just right, it glistens so bright you can’t look away. My backyard is full of fresh pine and mountain air. After an early morning rain the low fog amongst the hills gives you an eerie but peaceful moment. Noticing these instances in such regular places wouldn’t happen nearly as often if it weren’t for photography and a little app that inspired me to do so.

Allow social media platforms to inspire you to express who you are creatively, rather than letting it get you down. You don’t have to travel to extravagant places to find beauty. In fact, more power to you if you find the pretty moments in ordinary places.

View from my back deck. Klamath Falls, OR.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Golden Hour, Columbus, MS.

Processed with VSCO with c5 preset

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