On evolving content, consistent style, and Instagram followers

We are nearing the four month mark since we left England and are settling in quite nicely to life on the West Coast. I have taken to San Diego like a fish to water; there are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the glorious weather (it's no exaggeration how magnificent it is), but it's a bit more complicated than just the increase in vitamin D. Without getting into too much detail (we'll save that for my therapist), let's just say it's the change I needed.

That's not to say that I didn't love England (I did!) or that I don't miss it (I do - just not the rain!), but the lifestyle my family lives means that we are always ready for a new adventure every two or three years. And living in a city in an area of America that I have never lived before is proving to be a wonderful adventure. I've fallen for Southern California.

It should come as no surprise that a move from rural England to urban California means that the types of things I see on a regular basis are very, very different. Gone are the country lanes and thatched roof cottages.  Gone are the quaint village scenes and the dramatic, bucolic vistas. They have been replaced by the Spanish architecture and gardens of Balboa Park; the hip coffee shop, restaurant, and boutique scene; the majestic views of the Pacific Ocean; the eclectic architecture of SoCal.

When it comes to photography, and particularly Instagram, my content has always been centered around what I see on a daily basis - whether it was while walking around the villages of Hampshire or while traveling through Europe with my family. The images I share are typically place-oriented, no matter where that place is, and my style is (hopefully) conveyed through how a photo is framed, lit, and edited.

Leaving England, I was aware that there would be a noticeable shift in my Instagram posts.  They would still be place-based, but that place would likely be more urban than rural, and the posts would feature more interior images, a skill that I have been wanting to hone and improve upon.  Despite this content shift, my goal has always been to maintain my style - my photographic signature - and to maintain a focus on what I'm truly passionate about, namely design and architecture.

And there is the tie, the commonality that I hope bridges the thatched cottage to the mid-century modern house. As a lover of design, I appreciate both of these styles, recognizing the value that each brought to the built environment and landscape of the eras in which they were developed. And while my personal style may prefer one over the other, my goal is to convey a universal appreciation for each.

Now not everyone has that same appreciation, and that's okay. Lovers of the English countryside may not dig the California vibe. I get that. So I'm riding the evolution of my Instagram following - both the highs and lows - with a bit of ease. I'm hoping those that stick around do so because through the shift in content, they can see that my style remains the same. That's not to say I won't be experimenting with and refining that style, but I have no plans to veer too far off course.  So thanks to those who are riding that evolution with me, and hello to the newcomers - I hope you continue to stick around.

Summer in the exquisite Balboa Park.

Summer in the exquisite Balboa Park.

A Weekend in Amsterdam

It all started with a question between me and my husband:  what would be the one city that we visited in the last three years that you would travel to again before we move back to America?  Actually, it was a two-part question, the second part being:  what would be the one city that you would travel to on your own?

For me, there was one answer to both of these questions. I didn't hesitate. "Amsterdam," I responded. "You should just go, then," he said. And that evening, I purchased one set of tickets for me, and me alone, for a weekend away in Amsterdam.

A little background:  I lived in the Netherlands as a teenager, and, on the whole, my family wasn't overly impressed with the city.  Blame traveling with two angsty teenagers and a preschooler. I was determined to see it again with fresh (adult) eyes, and so I chose it as the first European city to travel to when we moved to England.  I loved it from the moment we arrived.  A vibrant, modern city in a historic, beautiful setting? With canals? And bicycles? What more could you want?

Apparently I wanted another weekend in it. And my husband, being the generous person he is, knew how much good it would do me. The pressures of an impending transatlantic move and the boredom (yes, boredom) of being a stay at home mom was starting to take its toll. So off I went at 5am on a Saturday morning to catch the early flight out. I had two days away, and I wasn't going to waste a minute of it.

I had two goals for the weekend:  one, I was going to move at my own pace because I was kid-free and could. Two, I was going to take as many photos as possible - which, let's be honest, is never really an issue for me. 

On my first day, I started in Jordaan and made my across the city, ending it at the Rijksmuseum.  Here is my journey, in photos:

The facades of Damrak disappear into the canal.

The dollhouses of Damrak.

It was one of those days that I wish I wore a step tracking device, because I climbed in bed at 8:30 pm and passed out from exhaustion. The best kind of exhaustion. The exhaustion that comes from being out all day in a city you love, doing exactly what you love to do. Sure, I was alone. But I didn't feel alone. The energy of the city was my travel companion.

I was up early the next morning, which, if you are a parent, you KNOW requires dedication when you aren't traveling with your tiny human alarm clark. I had a cup of coffee with the hotel staff (it was that early) and headed out the door before the sun was up. You see, I love to see a city waking up, particularly on a Sunday morning when there's no morning commute to be concerned with. It's a slow, sleepy process, and a city typically never looks more beautiful than in those few hours in between sunrise and when people start getting on with the business of the day.  Amsterdam did not disappoint (few cities do). I walked the length of the center of the city from my hotel in Jordaan to the Magere Brug bridge, and then meandered back. It was a stunning (and freezing cold) morning.

But of course, Amsterdam looks beautiful even when people are getting on with the business of the day. Perhaps that's the most important thing I took away from this weekend - the realization of how much I missed city life. That I feel more energetic when I'm immersed in the chaos and buzz of the city. That I like when people walk - or cycle - into my frame. That my photography work benefits from being in the city. I have grown tired of static scenery. I'm craving something else, something more dynamic. And the timing of this revelation couldn't be more perfect as we approach our last month the English countryside. These two days in Amsterdam felt like just the start of what's next for me.