Hello, again! I hope you’ve all recovered from Folk Fest. And if you’re not the kind of person who’s into folk fests, I hope you’ve recovered. Now the sun is coming in and out, the frost is quickly disappearing. This can only mean one thing — that tax extension season is well upon us. Also, spring.
Spring is a bigger deal than normal for me this year. For the first time in my life, I’ve got to take care of an honest-to-goodness garden with more beds in it than I’ve ever slept in, much less mulched and weeded. Sure, I’ve done the occasional strawberry patch or row of lettuce, but this is a behemoth in comparison. Of course, I’m totally stoked to have a garden full of vegetables though. This summer will be, if you’ll permit me, my salad days.
The idea for an Instagrammer’s Guide to Juneau first started when my newlywed wife (“newly-wife” for short) and I took out for a picnic someone who had never been to Juneau before. We started talking over each other as we tried to sell her all of the best and most important places to see in Juneau, ranging from the epic to the epicurean. I realized we needed a condensed version, something bite-sized and accessible, yet still versatile. Not Facebook — there’s a bit too much going over there. Not Snapchat — too ephemeral. Then I opened my Instagram feed and a golden light shone upon me. What a great way to get to know a place.
First, some tips for good photos with your phone. You may already know that on many phones you can focus on an object by tapping it on your screen. But did you know that your phone may auto-adjust the exposure based on the darkness or lightness of that object? Also, you can get a well-composed image by imagining a pound sign covering your screen (I can’t call it a hashtag — I can’t!). Adjust your perspective so the lines and intersections of that pound sign lay over the most important parts of the picture. There you go! The crash course is fully crashed. Now let’s talk the two kinds of ‘grammers. Oh, and before we go any further, yes I will continue unironically appropriating the word “gram” in all sorts of awful ways and I’m not sorry.
The two kinds of Instagrammers, at least as it relates to Juneau, are the Adventuregrammers and the Artgrammers. If you’re an Adventuregrammer, you’re all about showing off where you are. You want people to know you just summited a mountain or took a trip to the beach. Your dirty secret is that you don’t want people to know how you are — just where you are. Yes, that hike might have been the most exhausting slog through the buggiest meadow this side of Mordor, but gosh darn it, you are going to smile and get this picture over with so you can plant your proverbial flag in that mountain.
If you’re an Artgrammer, you do things the opposite way. You want people to know all about how and what you’re doing, but not where you are. Yeah, this is just a picture of a bench with paint peeling off of it, but it’s YOUR bench with paint peeling off of it. Nobody needs to know where it is or why you took that picture. You are responsible to no one — your silence indicates your integrity. Your carefully crafted choice of filter announces your artistic impulse and vision. People who constantly post selfies also belong in this category, as do Foodgrammers.
So let’s talk location, location, location. If you’re into the Adventuregram thing, there are some landmark grams you just have to hit up. For example, we need a picture of you in front of the glacier. We also need a picture of you in the ice caves. Also the glacier from Brotherhood Bridge. Glaciers are just a good choice all around. Get a selfie-stick and give us a shot of you tearing up powder at Eaglecrest. It’s ok if you eat snow — it’s even better that way! Go for some POV videos if you’re on a mountain; the motion helps establish depth, which shows how high up you are. Or, put up your feet on Couch Beach and put a beer by them. Classic. Also, if you’re this kind of Instagrammer, you definitely own a dog. Don’t keep them from their spotlight! We wanna see them running through meadows or doing dog stuff. Anything, really. You live an awesome life in an awesome place — show it off!
Now, for the Artgrammers, there’s also plenty here. You’re looking for things that look good just by themselves, without explanation, and Juneau is full of the stuff. Get your start by taking a picture of the pump house out by Sandy Beach (every respectable Juneauite has one), and of course all around the Shrine. Take a trip down to the ruins for some moodier snapshots or some graffiti. Other staples of an Artgrammy account are Don D. Statter Harbor at sunset, close-ups of wildflowers, or your boots in a puddle.
And of course, you have to have at least one picture of a perfectly foamed latte in your history. #Coffeegram. Try the Rookery, or Gonzo. For a more calming, well-travelled appeal, try the Tea House in the valley. Something else you may not have taken full advantage of is the quirky architecture of downtown, which can feature some pioneer style housing and also some intimidating art-deco edifices. Try for close-ups, odd angles, and other techniques to disconnect the viewer from their typical familiarity with your subject. Jar them a bit and remind them simultaneously of the unappreciated beauty waiting beneath the banal veil of the every day, and also the artistic talent for which you so clearly deserve a “like.”
Hope this helps your Insta. Shoot me a PM if you have any other ideas, or if you’ve found the perfect filter to make it look like the sun is out.
• Guy About Town appears the first and third Sunday of every month and includes seasonal musings on what changes and what doesn’t in a small town. Guy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his brand new Instagram account @je_guyabouttown, or his personal account @guy.unzicker. #TeamArtgram