Finely Edited Inspiration

      Of all social media platforms that I am active on, my all-time favourite has to be Instagram. Being an extremely visual person, Instagram photos not only interest me, but also provide unlimited inspiration. There are so many different networks to tap into based on each users personal interests, location or friend network. One of the reasons I love Instagram so much is the strong photographic community that has emerged and that I follow along with. My favourite users are people who are active members within their Instagram community and organize events such as Instameets, actively engage in conversations with their followers and have a strongly defined personal brand. Because I find so much inspiration through this platform, I’m going to share a list of my top favourite Instagram users to date.

Being an avid lover of nature, I can’t get enough of great landscape photographers. I’m always inspired by fresh photographs of places i’ve never been or have always wanted to go. One of my favourite landscape photographers at the moment is Kevin Russ. He specializes in taking iPhone only photographs and focuses on American Landscapes. His work has been published in multiple books, including a collaboration book with the popular photo editing app VSCO Cam. His follower base is currently at 202 thousand and he frequently organizes Instameets where fellow users can shoot along side him and learn from one another. Recently, Kevin participated in a project where he freight hopped across America and documented vagabond youths. This project was not only a photographic venture but a social experiment. You can find his work here.

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      Another Instagram that I love scrolling through is Bri Emery. She goes by the name of designlovefest and is a creative director, blogger and travel addict living in Los Angeles. She specializes in posting dreamy looking photos of exotic locations, fun food to try and bright and feminine design. She regularly hosts workshops on the powers of social media and always provides appealing and informative content. This is a user who tries her hardest to provide sincere content and is currently living the life of my dreams.

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      Given that i’m naturally drawn to landscapes and clean design, Mirae Campbell is another Instagrammer that I would recommend following. Being based in the Canadian West, her photos are centred around her weekends camping, climbing mountains or cliff diving. She definitely lives an inspiring life with no shortage of nature. Her follower base currently sits at 25 thousand and her clear photos never cease to inspire. Her account can be found here.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

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Are there any Instagram accounts that you’ve felt were too good not to share? Let’s hear about them!

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Swipe Right for Deception

      Tinder is a dating app that instantly connects you to hundreds of other singles in your immediate area, just by swiping right. Users are set up with other potential candidates when they mutually swipe right on each other’s profile photo and decide the rest of their profile is similarly intriguing. Messages start, meetings are arranged and love is bound to blossom! Unfortunately, Tinder has recently been infiltrated with a multitude of people…who aren’t exactly who they say they are.

      It’s a casual daters number one fear. You find an amazingly beautiful partner, apparently have a ton in common and your arranged meeting is suddenly drawn to a halt when the person who shows up, either isn’t who you thought they were, or doesn’t show up at all. You’ve been catfished. A relatively new term, this means that you have been intentionally lured into relations with someone online, and this person either possesses a stolen or fake identity. The rise of identity theft is something that is affecting more of our generation, an unfortunate consequence of initiating conversations based on online photos. Of course, Tinder is a dating app and if we’re going to be honest here, most users will swipe right based on appearance as they’re not given much else to work with. 

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      And so, hacking companies, ad robots and the mentally unwell are taking advantage of the fact that an attractive photo can be used to initiate a conversation. I’ve unfortunately had two friends who have both been victims of identity theft through Tinder. Both of them were notified in the same way, when a friend of a friend spotted their photo and realized the descriptions were fake. Most of the time, names are changed, the perpetrator is from a country foreign from your own and they don’t offer much in terms of conversation. Often the photo’s are stolen in order for a company to direct potential matches elsewhere. On some occasions though, identity theft can go further than just stealing someone else’s images. This article talks about a woman who was notified that a large majority of her photos were being stolen and passed off as someone else’s real life. This person had imagined a life fairly identical to the victim’s, even going so far as to create fake profile’s for every bystander in her stolen photo’s. This particular con artist managed to convince a slew of men that they were deep in an online relationship (with the woman she was fabricating). catfishax236-28ba-9jpg-d65483a241125c55

      This isn’t quite a new phenomena, identity theft has always been a problem on social media sites. The documentary Catfish tells the story of a reporter who begins an online relationship with a family friend through Facebook. After exchanging thousands of messages and arranging meetings, it becomes apparent that the woman he had been messaging does not exist and it was merely a hoax designed by a bored housewife.

      Given all of the different social media platforms where photos are featured, my only advice is to review each and every one’s privacy clauses. If you can limit your personal accounts so you have the maximum privacy from potential identity theft, than the trouble is worth it. Who knows where these fake accounts are leading people and how it will affect your reputation. Have you ever been a victim of identity theft on social media?

A Network of Support for Nepal

         When natural disaster strikes, it is hard not to feel the aftershocks of chaos all around the world. Nepal was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th, the worst that region has seen in over 80 years. It is almost impossible to know the definitive number of deaths but the approximate death toll is currently over 7,000 and continues to rise. Being located in Canada, it’s difficult to imagine the extent of damage in a foreign country and one as remote as Nepal. In addition to the earthquake, Nepal’s Mt. Everest experienced a slow of avalanches and aftershocks. The most remote villages are the most devastated as their lack of accessibility makes it difficult to deliver aid. Out of the entire population of Nepal, only a third of people have access to internet which is extremely limiting for foreign and aid communication.

nepal_earthquake_adam_ferguson_2015_02217       After this disastrous event, people around the world have been using the internet and various social media platforms to offer funds, aid of any kind and to connect with friends and family affected by the earthquake. Facebook has started a campaign which funnels donations to the International Medical Corps. The campaign was happening all of last week and invited users to donate to relief efforts in Nepal through a message displayed on their homepage. Facebook had promised to match donations of up to 2 million dollars and raised a combined total of more than $10 million. Over 550,000 users have donated, a high level of engagement for foreign recovery efforts. The campaign was very successful in accumulating funding and reiterated that the impact of this natural disaster can reach as far as Canada, thousands of miles away. Facebook was also relied upon as a way to to get in contact with friends and family who had been affected by the earthquake. Social media is a popular way to stay in contact with other users but in times of disaster, can also be an avenue for survival. Facebook’s all around the world last week were flooded with pictures of tourists in Nepal, desperately seeking information on the whereabouts of loved ones. Status updates confirming survivor’s conditions were the fastest way to reassure others of their whereabouts and safety. Facebook’s ads and popular postings were also focused on providing relief efforts for Nepal.

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      Lastly, Facebook initiated a function entitled Safety Check which prompts users to confirm their whereabouts and safety when in an area affected by natural disaster. Users can also search disaster areas on a map and Facebook will relay whether any of your friends are reportedly in that location. There is debate about how effective this tool has been in this particular disaster because of Nepal’s lack of internet access but the intention remains solid and could be further improved in the future.

      Although Facebook successfully engaged people around the world in terms of relief efforts, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Google have also focused on providing aid to Nepal over the past week. Twitter was used in a similar way to Facebook as it connected different networks of people to those affected by the earthquake and provided an effective avenue for receiving updates. Twitter also provided funding through UNICEF. LinkedIn has been searching it’s business networks for nearby drone operators. Their participation could mean receiving better information about the more remote areas effected by the earthquake and could in turn help with strategic relief planning. Google has paired with the Red Cross in hopes of locating people in affected regions. This searchable database allows people to input a name, biographical information and photo in search of providing information on that person, confirming you are that person or communicating that this person is deceased. Google does not verify this data but intends to funnel information to those affected without having to sift through multiple sources. Image: Aftermath of Nepal earthquake

      The community and network support that these big social media and technology firms have provided has made an immense difference to relief efforts and even gone as far as saved lives. Is there anything to be criticized among these efforts or improved upon for the next natural disaster?

Looking For A Weekend Getaway? There’s an App For That!

           I’ve always been a lover of travelling and at any given point, I have no less than three elaborate trips planned, just to satisfy my wanderlust. Being born and raised in Ottawa, my sense of adventure was originally focused towards overseas destinations like France, Poland or Iceland. Lately, without having the time or the funds to take an extended vacation, I’ve been more inspired to explore what’s in my own backyard. Being an Ottawa native, I’m only just starting to realize how central our sleepy political town is. We are neighbours to the preserved Gatineau with it’s endless array of hiking trails, a short drive from the United States and surrounded by quaint towns perfect for weekend getaways. Weekend road trips have since become a passion of mine and keep me from feeling cabin fever within our smaller city. Since i’ve become more passionate about exploring places closer to home, I’ve enlisted the help of several different apps to make sure I stay inspired and motivated to get out of the house.

            An app that helps quench my desire for road trips is the excellently made Road Trippers. Although this app is focused mainly on the United States, with the border so close to us, I find I use this function frequently. This app let’s you view a map of the United States and drop pins at potential locations that you’d like to visit. This lets you map out more than one destination and tallies up the price of gas while doing so. Not only is it amazing for visualizing your path of travel, but this app also offers suggestions based on your interests. Want to see quirky roadside oddities? National parks? Popular restaurants? This app covers absolutely everything from lodging, entertainment to food. It’s also really helpful to see what other users have contributed photo-wise and rated these potential destinations. 

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        What would a great road trip be without the perfect soundtrack? My favourite app to source music from is Songza. Songza hosts an elaborate database of music, categorized by genre, mood and decade. I really enjoy using this app because in addition to offering playlists based on your mood, you can search playlists based on your actual activity at the moment. I never knew I needed a funky BBQ playlist but I’m glad i’ve now found the perfect one!

Another app that i’ve found is useful when I don’t have a particular destination in mind is Trover. Trover let’s you look at a map while it showcases beautiful photos taken by other users, allowing you to decide where to explore based on photogenic scenery. As an example, I can scroll around the area of Ottawa and decide where to visit based on photos of scenery, food and interesting road stops. Being a very visual person, I definitely appreciate how inspiring this app can be.

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         Finally, another app that I would suggest using for travel is Tinder. I know, I know, that’s not exactly what it is for. But think about the possibilities! I have a friend who is currently travelling South America, and when he enters a new city, his matches automatically align with his new location. This puts him in direct contact with locals who know all about his new city, can help him with his Spanish and show him around. I wouldn’t suggest using this app if you were spoken for, but one of the most exciting things about travel is meeting new people right? 

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          These apps have really helped me explore my city recently and have provided me with endless weekend trip inspiration. Is there any place nearby that you’ve recently discovered? Still feeling like Ottawa has little to offer in the name of adventure?

Connecting Across the World with Social Media

      Occasionally when I am scrolling through Facebook, I am astounded by the amount of connections of mine that span all over the world. At any given time, I can have friends travelling through Thailand, exploring the beaches of Australia, hiking a remote mountain in Nepal or attending a music festival in Iceland. What strikes me about these connections is the way that social media not only allows me to visualize these places, but connect with friends who are currently experiencing them. Social media platforms such as Facebook allow everyone to visualize new places, receive instant feedback about them and provide constant travel inspiration. Would I have known and desired to have visited that remote beach in Bali if a connection of mine had not posted those gorgeous photos? It’s interesting to think that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have the capability to expand my visual geography.

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      I recently read this article about an American man who was perplexed when pictures of what appeared to be a foreign country began to appear on his iCloud photo stream. After explaining his predicament to a couple friends, they came to the conclusion that the photos were coming from a phone that was stolen over a year ago and that had been resold in China. As his iCloud stream contained more than a few pictures of the new owner of his phone, a movement was born in order to connect these two men who probably had nothing in common except for accidentally sharing an iCloud photo stream. Once pictures began surfacing on the internet through Twitter and Weibo (basically a Chinese version of Twitter), strangers began pouring tips into the comment section attempting to connect these strangers. Long story short, the two men were connected and an amazing friendship was formed. In this case, Weibo and the social communities of both of these men were able to connect them from across the world and facilitate a visit to a village that the author probably didn’t even know existed beforehand.

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      If it were not for social media, this unlikely friendship would definitely not have formed. I sometimes catch myself recommending activities or hotels in cities that I have never stayed in, strictly based on the social media activity of my friends. Have you ever felt inclined to visit someplace new or try a different restaurant based on a connection’s photo or status update?

      The impact of social media on the travel and tourism industry has been very positive. According to statistics, 92% of people rely on media, word-of-mouth, and recommendations from their social community. Social media also has a heavy influence on actual travel bookings as only 48% of people who researched through social media after booking kept their original plans. As i’m sure many of us can attest to, 78% of people posted photos of their vacation online. This data can be found here. Social media has become a platform for vacation and travel recommendations and inspiration. Through reviewing shared photos and status updates, I am constantly learning about new destinations, and expanding my understanding of the world’s geography.

      Have you ever learned about a new destination or culture through social media? 

Tips to Curating a Beautiful Instagram (COM0011 Blog Post #1)

      Instagram is a community photo sharing app, meant for mobile phones and providing an instant feed. Although this is a photo sharing app, you by no means have to be a talented photographer to produce beautiful photographs. Since the immersion of Instagram, it’s quickly become a popular social marketing tool and a way to produce visually appealing marketing content to a mass network of people. Beyond providing a platform to showcase curated photographs, Instagram has cultivated its own community of photo and design enthusiasts. This app has great potential for developing one’s own brand and becoming involved in a network of like-minded users. It also serves as an instant source of inspiration. So how does one harness the full potential of Instagram and capture a feeling that thousands of other users can relate with?

     Firstly, because Instagram is a very visual app, editing and enhancing photographs to look their very best is important. Although Instagram is equipped with different filters designed to improve the quality of your photos, it doesn’t hurt to use another app to give your photos a certain edge. Not all photographers are provided with the same sense of style which is why trying out different photo apps can be beneficial to finding a formula that resonates with each individual’s personal brand. Apps such a VSCO Cam, Mextures, Afterlight and Pic Stitch offer different editing features such as adding light leaks, cropping photos, using pre-made formulas and providing more photo editing tweaks. Although using outside editing apps can add more complexity to your image, it’s essential to still maintain a cohesive theme within one’s own feed. screenshot

Mextures is a photo editing app that could add a personalized edge to your photos.

Mextures is a photo editing app that could add a personalized edge to your photos.

      Often the decision on whether someone will follow your account or not is how visually appealing your entire feed is. Choosing an overall theme for your account and limiting yourself to a few filters that you use regularly will ensure that your content flows and align’s with your account’s vision. Asking yourself whether your posts align with the rest of your feed before they are made public is another way curate an effective gallery. A general rule to follow is to wait 24 hours before posting content. There are outside apps such as Pic Stitch that allow users to create a collage of images, giving them an advantage of preview before actually posting to their feed. The IPhone also allows users to create different albums within their photo feed, allowing a comprehensive look of the images they wish to post.

     Finally, knowing how to explore and discover new networks within the app is essential in giving your account more exposure, connecting with like-minded individuals and finding inspiration. Connect with your community! If you’re a photographer, try connecting with like-minded individuals through InstaMeets. This is where passionate Instagram users connect over a similar interest (photography, hiking, products) and use the app to grow their network, perfect their photography skills and share ideas. Instagram is a full network that can be tapped into, and as with any network, the more involved you become within the community, the larger the potential for growth. Commenting on other people’s posts, offering tips or words of encouragement, liking posts and even taking advantage of the personal sharing function could expose your brand and increase your popularity. Using hashtags can also increase views and user engagement. Using too many hashtags can come across as spammy, so choose what networks you would like to expose your brand to and select carefully. Keep it simple but significant.

This Instagram was created using the same Instagram filter for every photo, creating a cohesive look.

This Instagram was created using the same Instagram filter for every photo, creating a cohesive look.

  

      Taking the time to curate your Instagram feed, get involved within the community and being selective in posting content can result in a beautiful and effective account that showcases a cohesive theme. Studies have shown that there is no peak time to post that will generate more engagement (survey found here). This means using the tools mentioned above are your best bet in creating engaging visuals and attracting more traffic. These simple but significant tools, when used properly, can result in an increased following, engagement and traffic.