Increasing Instagram Followers, W.C. Fields and the complexity of photographing animals.

I continue my creative journey sleuthing the backroads of Vashon Island photographing with my IPad. I often chastise myself for not purchasing a real camera for amazing missed far off pics but economics keep me frugal. I graduated from IPhone to IPad because more often than not, I would return from early morning shoots, put on my glasses, and see my shots were blurry. With the Ipad I can frame the shot and see exactly what I am photographing. The IPhone shots were often dark and IPad shows me exactly the Pacific Northwest authentic color I desire.

Pacific Northwest early morning light punctuated with red colored tow truck

Recently a usurper started posting Vashon Island images colorfully altered and claiming he was a spiritualist. I got a little peeved he was getting likes from locals on what obviously was not reality as Vashon is mostly brown and gray. Then I had a long talk with myself that to avoid this angst, I will no longer post on #Vashonisland and grow a following abroad, or in the Midwest. I love world cultures and the backroads of Tennessee. I find #urbix fascinating and Vashon Island forests are rife with dilapidated buildings and rusting vehicles to share with #abandon. Followers have increased and I am learning the analytics of how to increase followers. I read on Instagram that times of day and certain hashtags work but I think lockdown postings are different.

Having followers around the globe stuck in their abodes, or limited in their excursions, most post as they get up in the morning, or before retiring. So monitoring my followers I can see when they start to post and catching them by liking immediately or catching the wave of Indian followers or New York risers by posting as they post, increases likes or exposure, so to speak. I also start to scroll the most popular photographers’ followers and start to like their shots. Lo and behold, they find me. I look for photographers who don’t alter their shots so I can see what their streets, culture, or people are really like. It’s like going to a minor league baseball game where players are human and screw up. Major league bores me. Call me if the game goes into extra innings and then I will watch. Professional photos are too smooth and lack soul to me.

Usual Vashon hues

Recently I came across down a backroad to a fourth generation ranch and the early morning light was exquisite. Before me was a group of horses who came at me with rambunctious personalities, interacting with me and each other. Shot after shot was brilliant and although the young filly tried to nip me, the experience was a new focus I could explore. I have learned that to get attention from an animal, early morning before feeding is the best time. However photographing animals any other time has proven frustrating.

Looking for hay; early morning interest in me.

Horses love turning their butts toward me. Like Siamese cats, not interested. I see a beautiful shot, get close, and they will not comply unless hungry. I have returned repeatedly to these horses to get that perfect shot. Not happening. Butt after butt. Birds, on the other hand, will not stay still. I came across an eagle sitting on a lagoon gate, and I snuck below rocks to get a closeup. But like the seagulls and blue herons, off the eagle goes to a tree perch if too close. These photos I leave to professional photographers because until I have a Nikon or Fujica, I am not going to be successful or what you see is what I got, look, another pastoral shot and somewhere in the bucolic scene, there is a horse or deer grazing.

C’mon closer! It’s been thirty minutes of trying; I give up…

#likeforlike? The Gamer in me is addicted to Analytics and Likes

So at the beginning of this journey seventeen months ago when I lost everything I was like someone in the balcony watching the actors and audience play their roles, and I inwardly was pleased to be a manuscript waiting to be written. I have worked since the age of thirteen, always struggling to make more money, have more power, be more influential on student minds. Ugh, what a bore.

I think post Covid what will I do? Not repeating patterns is a whole rewiring of the brain, and searching Indeed starts with creative jobs and digresses to my three degree, tons of experience past which makes me cringe, so I go back to part time garden center jobs or pottery school receptionist, anything to avoid returning to the stressful and inane world of education and to continue to be creative. Eventually I will need to make money, but building a portfolio of photos, although unclear to me yet, may help secure something that pays and allows me to continue this journey.

I have never been happier being in lockdown limbo. Going out in the early morning to pursue creativity is fulfilling my need for stimulation and satisfaction. But recently weekends are marred by people. Weekend visitors to the island who post on Instagram their vector venture as superspreaders. The silence of solitude is disrupted with the sounds of motorboats, SUVs revving on remote roads, and fit joggers on the main highway. Go away. I want to photograph in peace.

What is amusing is I traded my inconspicuous economy car for a shiny black Jeep Gladiator so I can take old furniture to the dump. I hate it. Construction workers and utility workers in general get all excited like a child getting legos at Christmas; one even asked to drive it. Go for it. But surreptitiously wandering the island for shots is stressful in this rig and having California plates makes it a topic of concern by old lady walkers giving me the look of why is a Californian during lockdown photographing that abandoned house in the ravine. Those exchanged looks make me laugh as I drive away in my intimidating ride and view the attempts at resolving consternation in the rear view mirror. Never-the-less, I have taken to parking it in bushes and taking long walks for photographic ops.

I have 252 followers now on Instagram. For the longest time I could not break 30 likes. Then after wasting an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why fotolover38’s blurry lamppost picture posted makes 548 likes, I started to see a few ways to increase likes; not that that is the purpose of why I do photography. But I am a gamer. I sniped ho’s on Grand Theft Auto and even this skill takes some creativity to accomplish. I like figuring out how programmers make programs so difficult and addictive thus piquing my competitive nature.

Instagram has cliques. Initially I could see street_photography hashtag has followers who follow each other. So following that hashtag and following likers from that group, starts to get followers and likes once you start engaging with those photographers. So every genre has an addicted group that love to be liked and followed. I oblige. It’s a real time waster but if disciplined one can spend little time each day seeing the relationships and joining in on the analytics of Instagram.

Another change I made was hashtags. As I gained followers, I repeatedly used the same hashtags. #photography showed I had five followers also following that hashtag. But I could also see that locals weren’t supporting my art, except the local pizza place, so I changed things up by looking at what other same genre photographers were using as hashtags thus hello more cliques. So I started posting international hashtags like #fleur, #flora, and #hana. I got likes and followers from Paris, Mexico City, and Tokyo. Now some liked me, others not. But the ones I wanted to follow because I genuinely enjoy their pics, I liked ten of their pictures. In turn, they came back and liked ten of mine. Ah, like for like mentality. Well isn’t this a waste of life.

Yes, but I want to see if I can now break 100 likes and the same gaming addictive behavior sets in. Instagram is truly evil. The dark side can quickly plunge a person into not painting the house or writing that novel you always said you would write. Moderation is definitely the key to breaking Instagram barriers and still get real life chores finished.

The darkest side of Instagram are profiles that like your art then out of courtesy you like one of theirs. So upon closer examination, after a few weird interactions, private messages that are inappropriate or financial scams that are coming next, you can start to spot the sordid sooner.

Hollyhopeisalive posts five pics. Three of her dogs, oh how cute, and one at a fundraiser all dolled up, and one is Tahiti. She is only in the one at the event, standing next to an ice sculpture on a buffet table. She has 5972 followers and five posts. She sends a message, “salut belle, ou habites tu?”

Delete profile and block.

Anyone who has hashtags #likeforlike, #followme, use my hashtag messages and I will repost, or anything other than just what the photo is needs to be eliminated. One weird like described himself as a 21-year-old with a camera and had a few nice pics so I liked one. I then noticed all of them had my exact #hashtags and I, being influenced by Instagram, was flattered, oh look he is emulating me which triggered old protective and nurturing patterns as an educator. Wait, this is creepy stalker scam and logic should guide my intuition. Delete and block, and stop being human. Instagram is not human nor safe.

Another tip off is that kid from India who has amazing pics of himself in Tibet, then a day later Michigan, then, damn, he visited Vashon Island, my island, look, he is on the beach, and just last week during lockdown too! Isn’t that photoshopping amazing! Delete, block you little scammer. Kudos for creativity tho.

Hey, Social Influencer! Who Cares Anymore?

When I was sixteen I got my first Seventeen Magazine in the mail. The pages were filled with glossy ads and layouts with girls my age who looked like confident women with tits. I was shaped like a ten-year-old boy and not until pregnancy was I ever so endowed. I was intimidated and tried to emulate California girls but only ended up looking like Boy George in Northwest Ugly fashion with the few attempts I made over the years. The best I could achieve was a Jackie O in adulthood when donning classic business suits and dark sunglasses. Handsome, not beautiful.

#Instagram elicits the same reaction but being sixty, after initially succumbing to the manipulation of racking up likes and followers, I am able to choose the positive and break the negative addictive and demeaning side of social media. I can continue my early morning photo shoots on this still asleep, stay at home island and enjoy the solitude, the creativity, and the peace. My daily explorations keep me mentally healthy. I still long for learning pottery skills around the globe but now can imagine other future possibilities with the new skills gained and knowledge of manipulation skills I gathered though life as a female, a failure in the eyes of fuckers, and an effective educator who cared.

When I wandered central Mexico alone, deep in meditative thought, searching for meaning, self-knowledge, and what to do next with my life, I learned how to just be. I was an alpha female my whole life; thanks to my mom: bitter, struggling, overachieving, competitive, and all around miserable. She drank vodka, straight up with a twist, God love her, but I learned to slow down intentionally, love myself, seek that which fed my soul. I do not want to be like my ma in her sixties, breaking her hips and falling over street curbs coming up with a wicked smile while blood drips from her forehead. That’s a twisted glee I hope to never desire. So coming into this pandemic, and feeling centered, I think to the post- Covid “now I am immunized me” and I can picture the internal me and what I am to be, but not externally on how I will play out in the probably restricted future existence. I feel a strange lack of concern as to what would have, in the past, troubled me. I feel suspended in time and it’s okay.

I wonder if others are planning to return to their previous lives. Or like me, they are realizing that being in one’s home is pretty nice. Because when unemployed and not in the rat race, expenses and abuse in the workplace drops exponentially. I used to pay high rent for a dark hole in the wall above alley garbage cans and unmedicated homeless screaming below my window. I used to drive a brand new car with a $500 dollar a month payment, plus tabs, gas, and insurance costs. I got a massage twice a month, got a hack n dye from Amethyst for 150 bucks, and ate French dip sandwiches at the “smoke and bitch” on J Street with my stressed school administrator friend for a weekly therapy session on the street. We both were living our best lives, girlfriend, but were vocal to “choose our level of fucked” in response to Common Core, PBIS, and state testing, fuck you very much.

The thing is we spent a lot of money to ameliorate the nonstop stress of our working long hours for high pay and benefits, all the while making no more than if we had low stress jobs for minimum wage and gave up the trappings of costly self gratification. I for one was very aware as my nervous system healed from the PTSD of insanity called public education, that spending money as a palliative is no longer needed when out of work, out of the corporate grind, or on limited resources.

I wonder if others are seeing alternatives to collective choices once made. That simpler living is healthier living. That being around one’s children more and not sending them back to the bullying, discrimination, sexism, and social injustices of the school’s environment is kind of attractive. I wonder if children are having healthy withdrawals from the pressures of cliques, testing, and cold wonder bread with American cheese and a chocolate milk. Where kindergartners cold cocked classmates at recess and threw chairs at teachers who routinely wondered, “Why the fuck did I buy into this cooperative learning, social justice bullshit and owe fifty thousand dollars in student debt and have to keep going to summer school myself after years of training and experience? And the superintendent says we have to institute this benchmark when my kids can’t even do times tables or read above first grade even though in the fifth grade? Another fucking shooter lockdown with thirty out of control students in silence? And why are you two taking bets on who can sniff jello pudding shots faster?”

I wonder if others are reflecting on I never really wanted to do what I do. Or what I do is not what I thought it would be? I never wanted to be what I have become; I never want to be like my father who robotically performed and provided, but died an unfulfilled accountant rather than the watercolorist he dabbled at when at college? Why didn’t I listen to my mother when she announced teaching was a fate worse than death? Why did I think moving constantly, consuming and polluting, collapsing end of day to watch sex on Game of Thrones was living my best life? I had a head start on humanity thanks to divine intervention 18 months ago, but I am curious to see what the world is going to be when Covid, like small pox, is no longer a threat. Living under restrictions may prove to be the great purge of societal excess and inanity, pervasive pre-plague reality.

I hope that humanity turns introspective during this break from what was reality. I hope that humanity calms down, just calms the fuck down with the excess, the inhumanity, and the social influencing that keeps us from us.

I will continue my creative journey for this pandemic is not going viral in my world.

Shifting Perspective from Sunsets to Street

I have a rental car I am obliged to hold on to since I am under Covid isolation, and the Port of Seattle waived taxes and surcharges, and I was not going to expose myself by returning it and having to walk from SeaTac Airport to my home on Vashon Island. Public transportation, emergency rooms, nursing homes, and rental counters are places I do not want to be at in this time. The problem is the rental has an Oregon license plate and islanders are definitely giving me dim views of distaste in this tight little island community. Outsiders bring the dreaded plague. History shows this to be an accurate fear. But I lived here twenty five years, left for ten, and having returned in December, I am not known as I once was when part of the community. Regardless, avoiding germs and wrath seems advisable.

I only venture out early morning to take photographs in public places when I can be first to get my latte at Burton Coffee Stand, encounter few other others on the country roads, shop fast, plastic glove protected, at Thriftway, and take advantage of the early morning light. What a weird time to have to consider if what I need is more important than the possibility of dying if I go for it.

I had been following street photographers, missing my midtown Sacramento visual stimulation, now located in bucolic woods, but the town is not an inspiration for captivating images. About four by four blocks long, lacking trees or architectural interest, Vashon must have some visual delight. I decided to give it a try.

I started to try to continue my promise to follow a life of creativity and realized that just as I am drawn to the images of other places across the globe, others might like to see what my community is like, albeit in lockdown. I see photos of what is exotic on my feed from those I follow. Vashon must be exotic to someone in Mumbai, Mexico City, or Tokyo I reluctantly reasoned. I needed to shed my western view and embrace a global view. I delight in waking to cherry blossoms from kyo_photo_t or snuggling in at night to the quirky faisal_aljunied from Singapore pics that make me giggle. Photographers around the world are liking what I saw as mundane or something I passed routinely commuting in by-gone days. So feeding my soul, I continue to create.

Photography in the time of Parlour Wall Relationships

A journey to creativity and peace

Photography is keeping me entertained. I am meeting very interesting persons from all over the world. Well, like Mildred in Fahrenheit 451, they are like my family, but better. Instead of parlour walls, on Instagram we compliment the creativity, the best candids, and even comment occasionally in solitary solidarity.

City photographers are risking their health, going from the role of artists of architectural interpretation to photo journalists recording the stricken on gurneys being escorted by paramedics into the horrifying Elmherst Hospital in Queens, New York. They get on subways and record in black and white images of either empty trains or social distancing. Others, less on the lookout now, show creativity from their rooftops, in the kitchen as chefs, or candids of their baffled pet as to why the human never leaves. I am lucky to be located in the woods above the beach during this time to record expansive nature for those in enclosed spaces.

I have increased hashtags internationally and met a maritime pilot who loved my container ship pic. I was going to photograph a lighthouse when this massive ship came lumbering by, close to shore. I shot it. Posted it. He liked it. When someone likes your shot, you can look at their account if not private. He had years of beautiful photos as one who pilots these ships. Gorgeous, up close shots. Now I know someone in Norway. I caught up on his whole adult life, family, travels, and an insider’s view of maritime shipping. It’s like acceptable stalking so to speak.

I am flirting with a gay and glorious model in San Miguel de Allende. His shots showed up in the local feed and he is physically fabulous. His personality shows in the multitude of outfits he dons photographed in front of buildings I photographed last September. He sends me hearts and I return flames. I hope to be able to meet up with him when I go back and do pottery in colorful and vibrant San Miguel. His photos make me wistful but I know the time will come when I can get back on the pottery path.

Instagram is an interesting interactive format that seems to have its own social code. I like your photo. You like one back. I like more of your photos; you follow suit. I continue to support your work with likes. You support mine. Some outright just follow. Bold! And if I like the work, I follow back. No dancing at all. However, I am building my following slowly with artists whose work I admire. Being a past educator I also look for emerging artists I appreciate and show them support with 💕. In two weeks I went from 45 to over a 100 followers. The respect is mutual. I enjoy scrolling their work.

But I get a lot of likes who don’t follow that dance. Some just random private accounts of non photographers who are quarantined and seeking entertainment with #eyecandy or #love. Others are local businesses who like my pics, maybe, but more likely promoting their wares. But some likes are attached to what I would call “follower whores,” who rack up to 3,000 followers. And the work is either highly manipulated with filters or pictures that would not have passed 1970’s photography class. So this I am still trying to figure out. So far, Instagram is like entering the playground at a new school and the first kid to approach you is the one who is someone from whom later you want to distance yourself. But you are so grateful that first week these bots and businesses liked your work. It takes courage to expose yourself initially to this unknown venue at the risk of rejection.

I once again cleaned up my site, becoming more discerning as to what is quality, dropping the less quality and keeping or adding better shots. I seem by talent or by situation a #naturephotographer which suits me fine. If I post late at night I get photographers on the other side of the world appreciating my work. Apparently analytics would differ and I would do better posting Tuesday at 11am, but like quality in art I prefer quality in persons who genuinely appreciate, or at least those stuck in a studio apartment in the concrete jungles, can benefit from my art.

I feel, for I am focused on learning to feel, like the world is on a precipice but I like this ever changing uncertainty. With the world held in limbo, I am experimenting with creativity and gaining on line social skills and media knowledge. Where this is leading I know not. But I am not only at peace, I am starting to feel happy. I didn’t know one could possess both.

Building a Community One Hashtag at a Time

A journey to creativity and peace.

Foggy morning drive down my road

A beautiful community exists which I discovered by accident. I had an Instagram account on which I would post occasional nature shots and of family for my friends. Last December, a lennyruizc from Buenos Aires started to show up on my feed, and I liked his post. He has cool street photos. And then I liked many of his pictures as they showed up. Two weeks ago, I started seeing roguepnw. I loved his shots of Seattle, my hometown. Through his work, I thought I have some great photos, so I posted them. No response but a few family members and friends.

I then realized I needed #hashtags. Okay, I didn’t understand what they were all about; I am learning. Trying different ones, #shotoniphone, #streetphotographer, #natgeo, my followers grew. I discovered # tsutuaki_abe in Tokyo, #alanfirmin in London, and #clay_benskin with his social commentary pics in New York and their outstanding work. And scrolling hashtags that they posted, I came into contact with more photographers all over the world who liked my work back. Daily I see life in Moscow, Punjab, Harlem, and Paris which reflect the global experience through their lens.

my hometown Seattle

I removed all non-professional pics from my site, rebranded myself Janegoesglobal, linked it to this blog, and two weeks later I have 100 followers with many likes. I was trying to draw to my blog, instead the draw is to my photography. Either way, I am creating and thriving.

Washington State Ferry

Every day I go out in search of artistic shots as I roam Vashon Island, or shoot on the beach below my house, and I post travel pictures from Mexico and other trips. I initially branded myself as a global traveler and blogger, but in these times, seemed not so appetizing. Still surrendering to the universe, and unable to continue pottery lessons, I made myself a photographer.

Sunset Colvos Passage

I find this creative journey I have been on a bit absurd because rebranding can be achieved externally on line rather quickly with some clicks, but doesn’t reflect the long arduous task of ascending as a person. I am in awe of persons who knew when young that the arts would be their life and stuck with their passion. I always supported them but didn’t think to embrace the arts myself. But then, only recently I valued myself enough to seek out what feeds my soul.

I miss my 35mm Fujica from long ago, but the instant posting and recognition of my creative work suits my temperament. The creativity and connection with this beautiful community awakens a passion from a time before I lost my childhood self.

No, the Yellow Wallpaper is not speaking to me; Madness is the new norm

I haven’t worn a bra in four months. I shower once a week, maybe. Well, when I start to smell myself. I wake up when I want, then fall back asleep. I go to sleep when I want. Well, I sleep when my eyes get tired of Instagram and MyCity, YouTube and WordPress. I nap every day; sometimes when I wake it’s dark outside.

I talk to the dog somebody left under the Christmas tree years ago. I take that dog on long walks where it chases the eagles and blue herons I was slowly approaching to photograph. If someone yells “ffuuucckkk” in the woods, do you hear it? I try to sneak out but it hears me and begs me for tortillas and crackers. A stalker dog, no matter what time of night.

I leave the house by rental car for my daily dose of corona to socially distance myself to get a latte. I have a rental car because I can’t commit. I go to the grocery store where I pass up the empty shelves for rice and beans, and buy up boxes of chocolates and Gummy bears because I eat a box and bag every day.

I look at Amazon six times a day when I ask the universe should I buy a pottery wheel and the time is 8:18, 11:11 or 2:48 and I look on line and the price keeps going up like rental car prices and air fares due to analytics and I reason I am under house arrest and should do it, but the cost when life starts again may upset my budget, but what about my creativity promise to myself, but what about when economic shit gets real in a few months, but I need to create with clay, but I could die from Covid, so I should live for today, or not.