Marc Riboud, renowned French photographer once said, "Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." What Instagram allows its users to do is instantly share those savored moments captured in photos and videos with the world. The social networking giant also offers an intimate documentary of people's daily lives: see what they had for dinner yesterday, how frequently they workout, the people they spend time with, and the places they have gone. An intriguing and reflective self-expression is the product of an Instagram feed from somebody like Neely Wood. The Chattanooga, TN native considers her whole life an adventure and wants people to know about it. Neely, better known as @electricneel, updates her IG religiously, posting stunning sceneries, portraits, and hobbies that narrate her journey. One scroll down her page and it is evident Neely is a storyteller, so InTheRough spoke with the photographer on how she utilizes the app to fulfill her creative expression. Enjoy the conversation below!
InTheRough: When did you download Instagram?
Neely Wood: I remember downloading Instagram the second I found out it was available on Android devices in April 2011. A pretty vivid memory for me actually... I was on a trip in Philadelphia and used whatever little 3G data I had left for the month to download the app!
ITR: How did you hear about it?
NW: It was all the rage when everyone started getting iPhones when I was in high school. I was behind on the 'Gram Train since I had an Android, but I was super stoked about having an app that I could edit my photos and post on without having to deal with Facebook statuses, "Become a Fan" pages, and ads.
ITR: Have you gone through periods of heavy use and periods of dormancy?
NW: I can definitely say I've never been through Instagram dormancy... I've always been a huge fan. But as Instagram etiquette has made its way into our understanding of how to use social media, I've been trying to keep my posts to one a day. It's so hard to do, though, when you're constantly taking photos like I am!
ITR: How does Instagram fit into your daily life?
NW: Like I've said, I post on Instagram about once a day. I'm a photographer, and I see just about everything as a photograph, so finding photos to take has never been a challenge for me. It's always been more of having to choose which photo to post that's harder! I like to go on "adventures" (as I call them) to new places in or out of town, either with friends or alone, and I'm always snapping photos when I do that. Not to mention, the classic latte art photo while you study at the coffee shop is always a great option!
ITR: What has VSCO offered for your photography?
NW: VSCO has really provided me with inspiration over the last year or so. For a while, I became super obsessive with having the exactly correct angles, point-of-view, quality, and lighting for my Instagram posts once I edited with VSCO, but recently I've tried to let go some. I really do love following VSCO-savvy accounts that do a lot with minimalistic and portraiture photography. That's definitely my style!
ITR: It's no secret you love facades, where have you been in the last few months that features great building-scapes?
NW: Ahhhh, architecture, my newest love! Recently I've been taking trips to bigger cities (I live in Greenville, South Carolina, which is relatively quaint) like Atlanta and Asheville. Atlanta's skyline is totally killer! And Asheville's elaborately muralled walls never get old. Any place that mixes older buildings with mod city life is right down my alley (no pun intended).
ITR: Do you find yourself using a DSLR camera or your mobile camera more often?
NW: When I travel, I'm definitely more into using my DSLR simply because I'm guaranteed that crisp quality that you have to work harder for with a mobile camera (I have a Galaxy s4). But, I do send all of my DSLR (Nikon d5000, in my case) photos to my email to be edited by VSCO on my phone if I intend on posting them. I wouldn't choose any other method... unless, of course, the simple VSCO app was accessible on the computer!
ITR: How has your Instagram evolved?
NW: When I first started 'gramming, I posted literally anything and everything... no joke. If I drank coffee in the same mug every day, I would post it every time. I was so ridiculous! But also, there was no such thing as post-limiting back in 2010! Now, I'm much more selective. If I do nothing cool on a particular day, I like to post older photos I took that week. It's a lot less poor-quality selfies and a lot more landscapes and portraits.
ITR: Describe your Instagram's content in your own words.
NW: My bio provides a pretty sound description of my account (and it rhymes!): "mainly just adventures, friends, coffee, the gym, ukulele, and @[my boyfriend's handle]". I post what I do... I hike, travel, spend lots of time at coffee shops, post loads of cheesy couple pictures, and share both my gym progress and when I learn a new song on my ukulele. It's mostly about photography, though.
ITR: You obviously value fitness, tell us how you keep active.
NW: Being a full-time college student that keeps academics number one, I've made it my mission this past semester to make the gym a regular part of my week. After the winter holidays, I started making a habit of going 5 times per week to the gym, even if it was for less than an hour. Being let's face it -- you're gonna waste the hour watching endless YouTube videos after class anyway. I also used Instagram to motivate myself because there are so many fitness accounts to follow, and I was sure to keep my followers updated on my progress. It's a great motivator to bring your booty to the weight room.
ITR: How is the ukulele coming?
NW: I started playing last year during my winter break of 2014. I've always wanted to pick up another instrument that you could sing and play with, and the guitar seemed way too big for me to tackle. My friend had a spare ukulele, and I haven't stopped since! Instagram video definitely gave me an outlet for it.
ITR: Is your feed cohesive or is there a collage effect?
NW: I wish I had some more cohesiveness, actually. My feed is totally random. But, I do notice when I've only been posting pictures of people or myself... then I'll just take a trip downtown and find something new!
ITR: Do you have the perfect caption?
NW: Definitely some sort of pun. I'm really bad at captions... I get so excited to post the photo most of the time that my caption comes out super straight-forward. And then I usually change it later (shhhhh)!
ITR: What posts stick out and why?
NW: Posts that aren't square-cropped! It's so rare that I'll post something with a border to make it fit in the Instagram square because it totally interrupts the flow. Switching back and forth between squares and rectangles is a huge pet peeve of mine, I'll admit.
ITR: Best coffee spot you've 'grammed?
NW: That is really, really difficult to answer. I loved this shop that has a few locations in Atlanta called Octane Coffee Bar. It's simple design gave me so much inspiration. Plus, the latte art was on another level!
ITR: Your posts definitely feature PDA, why is that?
NW: My Instagram is a very accurate reflection of what's important to me in my day-to-day life. Recently, most of my adventures have been with my boyfriend since we live a few hours apart. Photos are moments turned into memories, so I find myself taking a lot of photos of us when we are together, and I can never resist posting a cheese/cute/romantic picture. To me, displays of affection are art! If I see a couple walking down the street or sitting in the park far enough away not to notice me, I always snap a photo of them.
ITR: Did you have a favorite adventure this year?
NW: I'd have to say that Asheville is always my favorite. I've been four or five times this semester for various occasions, and I never get tired of the art that seeps from its streets. I went in April this one time for a "meditation and mindfulness" seminar at the UNC Asheville, and I just remember it being so alive at night. I didn't get many pictures that time, but it was a really neat perspective.
ITR: What do you wish to convey through your Instagram?
NW: I really just wish to display who I am! I try not to do a whole lot with glitz and glam and selfies, but to instead to more of the whole here-is-my-world-why-don't-you-take-a-look thing. It's not about likes or follows at the end of the day... It's about inspiration, artistry, and the ability to instantaneously share what you're doing with the world.
Follow Neely's movement on Instagram here.