I #love Instagram!
In the swarm of social media platforms growing larger by the minute, I continue to be amazed by IG. There are a million ways to connect and stay in touch these days to engage your customers, expand your brand, grow your business, or simply for your personal enjoyment. I'm not a social media expert - clearly I'm stuck somewhere between Flo's Family - "It's called a fashion blog, Todd" - and the Kardashians living their lives online. Keeping up with social media can be overwhelming, and somehow underwhelming at the same time.
Social media should be fun, don't you think? Maybe it's just me, but lately some of it feels less social and more like a chore. As a travel photographer and blogger, I'm running a business. But even if you enjoy social media personally and not also for business reasons, you're probably finding that staying in touch with people is becoming more and more difficult these days. Some people love Instagram, others Tweet, your young nieces and nephews Snapchat, and your grandparents are just learning social media and all about Facebook. No one sees your updates in the same place anymore!
But Instagram has done what most social media has fallen short of doing for me - renewed my joy of sharing. And how timely as another holiday season, and 2015, comes to a close.
My Instagram is in its infancy - just a year old this past November. I remember the many hours it took me to 'get' the concept of it - and the hashtags! But now it seems I was overthinking it. And I'm doing fairly well I think, with nearly 7,000 followers :-) For the solid year it's taken me of working it, 'work' is the last thing it feels like. Instagram is not only fun for me, but the engagement I get from it feels genuine. In a small way, I'm making Instafriends around the world, sharing their travels, their experiences, their highs and lows. Of course there are the scammers and auto-responders sending the quick "Fabulous", "Great" or thumbs up on my latest post. But so many Followers are quick to share not only their comments and a little bit about themselves, but also help with valuable information and honest feedback when you ask.
It's been a year of many changes and reflection for me - as a photographer and new travel blogger, and it's interesting to look back and see how my Instagram has documented the year. I'm eternally grateful for the help and support I've received from fellow bloggers, and especially to Mother Nature, for the ocean and saltwater therapy needed to clear my head and begin a new direction in a brand new place.
And if you're reading this far, chances are you're either an old friend or new, virtual or otherwise, and I thank you for following along. I've truly enjoyed getting to know you and the journey you're on - and hope you're enjoying the ride so far on mine.
These are my Top 15 for 2015! Not the ones with the most Likes or anything like that. Just MY favorites - and my way of wrapping up 2015 with a beautiful bow!
Cheers to you for a happy and healthy 2016!
1. Change is always harder when it involves leaving dear friends and family to move yet further away. But they are never far from my heart. This pic captures the mixed emotions I was feeling at the time, preparing to step off, saying goodbye - and hello - and realizing how much change was about to come!
2. Hello, Sunshine State. It's nice to see you again! For the first few weeks in a new home you're "on vacation". Until you realize you now live here. Life is never a permanent vacation, even if you live in your dream place. It's simply the best place at the time for you to come home to again and again, and yet again.
3. This is why people visit Florida in February, and move here later on!
4. Sometimes, a latitude adjustment in an island beach bar is all that's needed!
5. Traveling to beautiful St. Simons Island along the Georgia coastline. The lowcountry was the perfect place to say I Do!
6. I love the warm, earthy green smell of the Garden State in June.
'Red sky at night, a sailor's delight' - what a great way to start the weekend with a fiery sunset at the #NaplesPier that went on and on. Lots of appreciative fans watched from the Pier as you can see, but I'm thinking the beach offered the best view, what do you think?! #nofilter #redskyatnight #sunset #sunsetporn #SWFL #naplesflorida #beautiful #florida #naples #gulfcoastlivin #sky #skyporn
7. Summer picnics, 4th of July parades, and fireworks from the Naples, Florida pier.
Historic #KeyWestBight at night! I just love this place at night, and if I had a boat here, I'd sleep out on deck just to smell the salty night air. What was once an unsavory part of town in Old Town Key West is now a hub of activity all day and into the night, with fun shops, waterfront restaurants and open-air bars like The Schooner Wharf (an all-time fave of mine), marinas, dive shops - even Jimmy Buffett's recording studio, Shrimpboat Sound, is here. #sea #travel #beach #wanderlust #US1 #Florida #KeyWest #historic #seaport #sunset #stillcrustyafteralltheseyears #SchoonerWharf #travelblog #TravelTuesday #authenticKeyWest #SeizeTheKeys #LiveTravelChannel #PiratesofKeyWest
8. The summer is hotter than the hinges of Hell in south Florida, but I wouldn't trade much for the balmy night walks along the waterfront in old town Key West.
9. Spending time with my family at the beach - priceless!
10. Reason #482 why I love Florida? The summer never ends!
Beautiful Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, #Florida is home to many hundreds of manatees during the winter months of November through March, who seek refuge in the warm 72 degree springs. ❄️ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today dedicated new wetlands and protective plantings surrounding the #ThreeSistersSprings, designed to protect the fragile ecosystem and the springs from erosion and damaging storm run off. ☔️ Congrats to the City of #CrystalRiver, the USFWS, and everyone who is working together to protect this incredible environmental gift so future generations of humans and manatees can #coexist in the same place for everyone's enjoyment! @visitcitrus #conservation #warmsprings #nature #paddling #kayaking #kayak3sisterssprings #lovefl #visitflorida #usfishandwildlife #environment #ecosystem #travel #travelblog #travelgram #standuppaddle #fishing #floridalife #saltlife
11. The crystal waters of central Florida are a haven for manatees in the winter.
Another one from last weekend's #sandsculpting Championships in #FtMyersBeach, #Florida - the detail on this one was so beautiful. These faces inside appear to be held captive by the sweet sounds of this cello. 🎼 #sand #beautiful #SWFL #sandcastles #gulflife #beach #beachlife #blackandwhite #travel #travelgram #travelblog #travelphotography #art #sculpture #sculpturesbythesea @ftmyerssanibel
12. Castles in the sand at Thanksgiving, at the annual Ft. Myers Beach Sandsculpting Championships.
Snorkeling the crystal blue oasis and warm springs of Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, #Florida. An other-worldly and amazing place! #CrystalRiver #blue #azure #springs #nature #naturelovers #snorkeling #loveFL #c3ss #kayak3sisterssprings #manatees @visitcitrus @visitflorida #gulflife #travel #traveling #travelgram #neverstopexploring #amazing #beautiful #threesisterssprings #scuba #mermaid
13. Snorkeling the crystal springs in Citrus County, Florida is like floating in another world!
There are times I want to travel, and times I need to just sit and think. Isn't this the perfect place? Tag yourself with someone you'd like to be sitting with on that dock! Photo: This gorgeous lakeside property is part of the Tsala Apopka (local say it 'salapopka'), a chain of lakes, marshes, and swamps within the Withlacoochee River in north central #Florida in Citrus County - about 63,000 acres. The #Withlacoochee State Trail runs along part of it making it an amazing place to bicycle/tricycle, horseback ride, walk, run, or just sit and think 🙃 #TravelTuesday #travel #traveling #travelgram #travelblog @VisitCitrus @visitflorida @goinvernessfl #TsalaApopka #landscape_lovers #landscape #wildflorida #nature #naturelovers #lake #cypress #swamp
14. The stunning, natural beauty of Florida (and much of the southeastern United States) can be found in the rugged landscape, "where the blackwater rolls and the sawgrass waves".
Chasing sunsets 🌅 I'm back home after a great week exploring Citrus County #Florida and can't wait to tell you all about it. But for now, as we head into Christmas week, I'm taking a break from writing and heading out for some last minute shopping!! 🎁 Have a great weekend, my friends - get out and chase some #sunsets! #sunsets #sunsetporn #beach #weekend #sun #sand #gulflife #saltlife #SWFL #naplesflorida #travel #travelgram #traveling #florida #lovefl #naplespier #lastminuteshopper #sunglassscene @sunglassscene
15. Chasing sunsets, watching sunsets, and reflecting on the past year and the new one to come....
#Cheers to 2016!
A #NewYear, new #dreams to work on, new places to discover, new love to make. Whatever you do - do more of what pulls your heart strings, so your reflection at the end of 2016 will be filled with #peace, #joy, and #noregrets!