Three Reasons You Should Try Instagram

Recent images (as of July 29, 2012) from my Instagram activity. Compiled by

By now most of you have heard of Instagram. Not only did Facebook buy this fledgling company for a bazzillion dollars, but for many folks it has become the social media platform of choice. The reason that I too have gravitated to Instagram might be that my twitter and facebook feeds are getting more and more difficult to track or that I am more a visual person, but whatever the case, I have found myself thinking Instagram first in my social networking life.

I asked some people to share why they use Instagram here and offer three more reasons you might want to give Instagram a try.

ONE – We are given the power to unleash the artsy fartsy creative monster within. With all the basic Instagram app features EVERYONE can find the artist within. We each see beauty in different things whether it is architecture, food, nature or the city and now we can share those passions in a new way. Using the different editing tools: filters, focusing, brightness, etc. it does not take much to create a picture that looks very cool and better captures what we are trying to say through a particular image. Case in point, this is a picture I snapped during a recent coffee stop at Cup in the Glen Park area of San Francisco. It is just three drinks: a latte, a havana and a hot chocolate, but with a few edits . . . voila, artsy beyond my own true ability.

TWO – We see the world in new ways through the eyes and words of our friends.   One of the greatest surprises as I have gotten into Instagram has been being able to see another side of people I know. While Instagram allows us all to be artsy, people still have to decide what images to share. Many times a day, as I scroll through images of those I follow, I find myself thinking, “Wow, that is a really cool shot!”  or “Hmmm, I had no idea that he liked X.” The angles, objects and stories that people choose to capture can share a whole other side to a person’s personality and perspective that we don’t always see through words. For instance, if you had not known me before, you might not have known that our family is a big Oakland A’s family, now you do. Go A’s!

THREE – We create a scrapbook for ourselves and our families. As with Twitter and Facebook, I am most interested in the in-between moments of life that help me to see the complexity of humanity.  Through capturing images of children, pets, food, buildings, etc. we are given a glimpse into the ongoing journey of life that folks are living. As look back on my own photo feed, I am given a visual reminder of some of our memorable moments in life. Yep, that’s us fishing.

Of course none of these services come without some cautions to think about. Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook, some have raised concerns about privacy, photo ownership and other issues about the general usage if both services. You can read some of that here, here and here.

In future posts I’ll compile some tips/apps to enhance your Instagram experience, but until then, download the app for your iPhone of Android (Yes, it’s a smart phone-only app) and dive in. Here are a few folks who I would suggest you follow as you get started.

  • UPDATE: TOTALLY forgot to list another photographer and friend who takes some very cool shots. Give @mfphotog some love.
  • @denisekendall – For great architecture and landscape images from the Bay Area.
  • @leslieannrod – Lots of dogs, food and life captured with a photographers eye.
  • @edunny – Another photographer friend, captures some very cool shots.
  • @casacullen – Great food, a new baby boy and a cute little dog.
  • @philz_coffee – Um, because it’s the best coffee in San Francisco.
  • If you would like to follow me you can find me by searching for breyeschow

So, there you have it, just a few reasons you might want to give Instagram a try. If you have other reasons, please feel free to leave them here or on my I ♥ Instagram because . . . photo.

My San Francisco: The Excelsior

With this post, I am beginning a new series called “My San Francisco” where I will periodically share pictures from events and districts around San Francisco.  There is a little more info here, but suffice it to say that I am not trying to provide a comprehensive look into any gathering or neighborhood, but rather to provide a small glimpse into the complex San Francisco landscape.

This week, I decided on spending about an hour walking around the Excelsior District of San Francisco. I know this area pretty well since I used to work here. I have spent many hours eating, walking and generally hanging out in this gem of neighborhood. That said, I do know that the Excelsior district is much more than the Mission Street corridor, but I decided to just walk up and down Mission to find some good pics. Below are my top choices with a little commentary, but please take a moment to look at the FULL ALBUM to get a better sense of my walk.

You may also want to check out a few of my local favorites: Mama Art Cafe, Filipino Community Center, Zaab Thai, Goldilocks, The Chick-n-Coop, Mexico Tipico, The Excelsior Action Group, Jerry Day and the church where I used to serve as the pastor, Mission Bay Community Church organizes a great Food Pantry every Saturday.

“EXCELSIOR” I love that each of the streets are pressed into the concrete. Not just in the excelsior, but it looks cool.  One of the neat things about the Excelsior is that the streets are names after major global cities.

“PRODUCE” Dotting the neighborhood are these great local markets with fresh produce, meats and other groceries.

“MURALS” There are wonderful murals through the neighborhood.  This is one of my favorites: the “Last Supper” with Jesus really breaking bread with the disciples.

“LOCKS” Like many urban areas there are still some empty lots, most entryways are gated and one still needs to be aware of one’s surroundings. City life for sure.

“LANGUAGES” The Excelsior is one of the most diverse communities in San Francisco illustrated by this shot of three stores right next to one another: Tagalog, Chinese and Spanish!

“RESOURCEFUL”Not sure what about this caught my eye, but the makeshift barricade of old doors to cover a new remodel seemed very urban McGyver-esque.

“JERRY” One of the big claims to fame of the Excelsior District is that Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead spent his childhood here.  This is him as depicted on, yes, a mural. If you want more info be sure to check out Jerry Day held every Summer.

Again these are just a few of the pics I snapped.  If you want to see the rest and can help better identify some of the sights, please visit the FULL ALBUM.  Also, if you can think of some great – and maybe unknown – areas or events that I might want to shoot, please feel free to let me know.