I passed a milestone this past week when I posted my 2000th Instagram.
What started out as a way of forcing myself to notice my surroundings has turned into so much more. For five years now, one day at a time, I’ve looked for, recorded, and then posted a daily image. It’s become an ingrained way of life for me.
Several years into the project I started printing the images and keeping a stack of them with me, which has added a dimension that has expanded my world immensely. People often look at me with suspicion when I ask if I may give them something but when I explain that it’s a gift, a little piece of my art that they may take with no strings attached, most of them eagerly search through the photos.
Some people know immediately which one they want. Others pull out their favorites, narrowing them down and looking at them again before they choose.
Almost always, I hear stories…..why a certain image speaks to them, what memory it invokes or who it might remind them of. One of the very first ones I gave away was to an exceptionally helpful bus driver in Paris, dressed in a suit, who told me he wanted to stop his bus in the middle of the street and show everyone his picture! He obviously didn’t have time to choose his own photo so I randomly grabbed one from my stash and this particular image has proven to be one of the most popular ones in my collection.
A pharmacist in Wisconsin, after choosing a photo of pocket watches, showed me an extensive collection of watches that he keeps at the store.
On a trip to Europe a few years ago I left Instagrams with a cheesemaker in Belgium…..
a calligrapher in Poland…..
and a group of delightful sisters in Switzerland. In the case of Sister Gielia, an artist herself, the images bridged the gap between our two languages.
My sister-in-law is a big fan of this particular Instagram but every time I give it to her she finds someone to give it away to. I love that she meets people who will relate to the message, and passes it on, so now I keep her supplied with a stack of them.
When I was wondering around DC a few months ago I made an Instagram of a haiku about spring rain and posted it with the hashtag #goldentrianglehaiku.” Turns out that haiku was written by a woman in Bulgaria and it was the first time she had seen a photograph of her poetry, on a street in a country so very far away and so very different from her own. We’re now friends on Facebook.
So you see, I started out using Instagrams to help me see the world, but what has happened is they have also brought me closer to the people who inhabit that world.
That result, in Cajun terms, is the lagniappe. To a baker it’s the icing on the cake. To a kid in an ice cream parlor it’s the cherry on top of the sundae. To this photographer and member of the human race, it’s all of those things rolled into one.
Art is a connector.
Here are a few favorites from the last five years:
And if I may, let me add another cherry to the top of this story. When I started this project I lived at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Turns out, on the one year anniversary of his retirement ceremony from the Air Force, my husband accepted an offer for a full time job and it takes us right back to where the project started, in the Shreveport/Bosssier City area of Louisiana. I’ll miss the four seasons I have here in Virginia and snow will be something I have to travel to find, but this move does get us much, much closer to our grandchildren. Can’t argue with that!
To read more about how and why my Instagram project started, click here.
To visit my Instagram Facebook Page go here.
If you wish, you many follow me on Instagram under the name julannek.
You have my gratitude for visiting.