Monday, February 2, 2015

instafaves 05: itsranan

This is a series I started last May featuring Instagrammers that I greatly admire. I will admit, the sole reason I began this series was for the excuse to have beautiful pictures on my blog. #supershallowsadbuttruefact. 

But after the first one, an interview with the indelible Laura Casey, I realized there is so much more to uncover, hidden by the photos. Each feed on Instagram is a mask. Just behind it is the face of a person- a real, human person with a story and a heart who shares a piece of him- or herself with every post. Some people share more, some less. But all you get is a glimpse. I realized I wanted to write a series to sharpen the focus on the person behind the lens. Who are these people who see the world in such unique ways?

Not only that, but how are they perfecting the Instagram craft? It’s not just a Facebook or a feed of unrelated snippets. These people are curators of their own gallery. What are they looking for as they build it?

And what can I learn from them? If you look at the really good feeds, you will see evolution. Turning points, fine-tuning. There is a list of people I want to emmulate and immitate as I find my own voice and style. This series is that list. So I ask them a LOT of questions about how they do what they do.

Today I’m introducing you to Ranan. Or as he’s known on Instagram, @itsranan. Sometimes you can remember the exact moment you found or started following someone. Nope, not this time. It’s like he serrendipitously showed up in my feed one day. But I instantly loved following him. His pictures-- mostly travel, the outdoors, water and fog-- are nothing short of transportive. I was so thrilled he agreed to be a part of this series and I’m so excited for you to meet him. And yes, to have his beautiful pictures on my blog. :)


ASD: Ranan! I am so happy to have you be a part of this series. Tell me your Instagram story. When did you start using it and how has it evolved for you?

R: I started my Instagram around February 2014 for the “art” I guess you can say. I loved photography and thought of it as a way to share my passion. Then I heard about instameets and it just changed everything for me. I was reluctant at first because I became an introvert since moving to Washington, but I finally wanted to get out there and meet new people. So I went to one & met so many great people & made so many new friends I thought I’d never have.

ASD: Do you actually travel and seek out locations to shoot, or have you always traveled and hiked and the pictures came later? (Maybe both).

R: I’d say its both! I love landscapes & cityscapes because I am simply marvelled by it all. The camera is the moment catcher that I’d love to cement!

ASD: What camera & editing software do you use?

R: The camera that I currently use is a Canon 70D & my trusty iPhone 5. As far as editing software I use Lightroom and you’ll be surprised to know that I use the Instagram editing tool as well! Its actually a pretty neat tool to use. I usually like deep shadows, a bit of a lightened highlight, & the right saturation. The tool helps with those a lot.

ASD: You have amazing scenery to shoot where you live. What advice would you give to someone who wants to take interesting pictures, but spends their days in a beige office, or the house, or stuck in suburbia?

R: Oh this one is hard. Generally, I would say whatever catches your eye! But my personal advice would be to definitely go for a lifestyle theme. If your days are spent indoors, I’m sure you have a personal taste in decor & style that defines you as an individual, capture that! 

ASD: One of my goals with this series is to tell people who are interested HOW they can have an awesome IG feed. So if you’ve taken photography classes or workshops I’d love to hear what they were and how people can find them.

R: I have no formal training whatsoever except for an instructional video that came with my DSLR. It basically showed me how to use my camera properly! Then I went out and started taking photos and messed around with the settings to achieve the best look I was drawn to.

ASD: Do you pay much attention to having a feed that “goes” together, or do you just post whatever picture you like in the moment?,

R: To be honest, I do like a good flow on my feed and that’s what I aim for. If you see my feed there’s either a warm tone or a cool tone in my photos, BUT if I really love the photo that I took in the moment I’d try to get it out there immediately.

ASD: How do you find and “meet” kindred spirits on Instagram?

R: Majority of the people I met this year were through instameets! I was able to meet so many great people and get to know their personalities. I was blessed enough to be able to keep in contact with a few great people! While at the meets I’d definitely save the “hey, what’s your handle (username)?” till after you get to know the person and make a connection! You have to be authentic. Form a relationship not a follower!

ASD: What accounts do you follow and absolutely love?

R: Oh my! There are so much! Here are a few I absolutely enjoy @ownthelight, @mrvalography, @jtrend, @chambersvisuals, @karinapal, @stef_krach, @collby, @philipleclerc, @navanel, @johndunfee, @iamshpak, @ladycascades, @kodiak.stag, @bertymandagie, @rhikm, @avstw, @hannah.aspen, @danny.owens...and so much more!

ASD: I am always reluctant to ask the question “How do you get followers on Instagram?” because I don’t like that aspect of our culture...ever seeking more “followers.” And it feels like, in the best sense, Instagram is and should be a community of friends. BUT I also know a lot of people want to know the answer to that question. It’s especially important to the small business owner looking to build a brand. So. What are some of the ways you think that your following has grown? And how would you advise people who want more followers?

R: Oh I agree with you one hundred percent, but I believe the most honest way to gain a following is to keep pushing great content & be engaging with your followers! Hashtags help as well! Your work will eventually be noticed and more people will want to follow along. Be yourself & be real!

ASD: Do you do any hashtag challenges, like the Instagram Weekend Hashtag project or others? If so, what are they and, if you know, who moderates them?

R: I do them but not so frequently. I’ve done the WHP’s which is of course moderated by Instagram, and the team at Igers Seattle does a Tuesday challenge with different themes. I usually try to do a challenge that I have some confidence in and I attempt to do it to the best of my abilities.

ASD: What are your favorite hashtags?

R: Some of my favorite hashtags are #vscocam, #instagood, #socality, #liveessential, & #thatpnwlife. If you take a look at these hashtags you’ll find a whole lot of creativity and inspiration from fellow users.

ASD: What is socality?

R: Socality founded by Scott Backen, is a social community all for eternity. It is a faith driven social media movement in which the founder believed in not having to do life alone. There are others out there who want to do life together and want to build community & also serve the community.

ASD: What is an #instahang? Is it the same as an insta-meet? How do I find one?

R: Instahangs I believe was a term used to attract a more people-based meet rather than a photo-based meet. It’s nearly the same as an instameet, but that’s my opinion. You can usually find an instameet through people you follow. Announcements are made formally and ahead of time. Instameets can even be a one on one basis. If it was through instagram it has to be an instameet!

ASD: Agh, I feel like I’ve written the word “insta” like 6000 times. Wish we could do this over coffee.

R: Oh much preferred, being from the Seattle area and all, haha

ASD: Do you think there is a downside to social media? Has there been a downside for you personally?

R: I’d say the only downside is the authenticity of it all. Some people are looking for community and friendships that they hope can last a lifetime, while some people can be looking for “instafame” & exposure. It can really be hard to tell where their hearts is.

ASD: Does the “like” button ever affect your sense of worth as an artist?

R: You can totally take a photo that you love and not get the same reaction from your audience & you can take a photo that was just for the heck of it and had no passion & your audience will love! So my answer is it shouldn’t affect you as an artist! Post what you love! Don’t let it affect you!

ASD: One time I pulled over to shoot a barn that I totally thought was community property, and a homeowner came out and started yelling at me- it was hers. I apologized and offered to delete the photos, which she immediately took me up on, and then she stomped away and slammed her door and was super mean to me. I could have crawled under a rock!! (To top it off when I got back in my car, my dog had puked on my seat). #thingswedoforinstagram!!!! Have you ever done anything embarrassing in the name of Instagram?

R: Haha Yes! It was during an insta-hang in Seattle and the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project was ice cream. So I was with a few friends and I thought it would be a “brilliant” idea to dump an ice cream cone on my head. So we proceeded to a gelato shop and got an ice cream cone. Then I went outside joined with a few friends and plopped that ice cream cone on my head…the photo didn’t win the project that weekend haha

ASD: I totally remember that photo and I loved it! And oh my goodness. I took about a hundred photos of my melting ice cream at a water park for that WHP, trying to hold the cone in one hand and the phone in the other and get a shot of it against an umbrella overhead while the ice cream ran down my hand. None of those ever even got posted. And I’m pretty sure that’s the exact day my husband realized his wife had gone insane.

photo by @lisapeckuliar 

ASD: Tell me about the Gap ‘Dress Normal’ project. You talked about doing a shoot for it in one of your photos. What is it, how did they find you, and what was it like to participate in a campaign with a major brand?

R: The dress normal project was a campaign by Gap to encourage everyday wear. Your personal style basically! The Gap didn’t find me though, haha! My friend who was a selected photographer for the campaign asked me if I wanted to “model” and I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this. It was definitely a cool gig to do and definitely a story to tell. I guess I can say I “modeled” for Gap haha.

ASD: Oh yeah, that totally counts.

photo by @stef_krach

ASD: How do you think that businesses should interact with consumers on Instagram?

R: I believe businesses should be engaging, transparent, & honest with their consumers. As a consumer we want to believe that we come first over profits, that they have the consumer in mind and not personal gain. Also, listening to feedback!

ASD: Unlike some of the other people I’ve interviewed, you’re not a blogger or shop owner or otherwise internet-present that I really know of. You’re an instagrammer. Do you have any goals or hopes of where you want that to take you?

R: My overall goal is to meet people, form relationships, be creative, adventurous, & live life. Anything after that is a bonus.

ASD: For anyone looking to sharpen their Instagram skills, I’d love some specifc advice. What are your most-used edits?

R: Straightening tool, crop, highlight & shadow adjustment, and brightness.

ASD: Filters, yes or no? Which ones?

R: Sure, I do I use vsco from time to time. They have a great array of filters to use. I personally use HB2, M6, & LV1

ASD: How do you get those great foggy outdoor shots?

R: I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “chasing fog.” Well, you literally have to haha. Find a hike you like & go for it on a foggy day. Then capture it!

ASD: Any other tips on how to take great shots?

R: When taking a photo the rule of thirds helps, so use that grid or keep it in mind. Try to be original. Keep learning, I know I am still.

ASD: How old are you?

R: I am 26.

ASD: Baby! Favorite local spots to shoot?

R: I genuinely love the city of Seattle, I love roaming the streets and taking photos there. Then I love the beautiful lush surroundings that is Washington. You can’t take a bad photo of the North Cascades & Mt. Rainier or any of the forests here!

ASD: You talk sometimes about missing family and home. Where is home and why are you away from it?

R: Home is a little Pacific island called Guam, a US territory. My brother is in the military stationed in North Dakota & my mother is in Guam working. I left Guam because I wanted to start a new life here in the Pacific Northwest, which was a refreshing change of pace from the sometimes lethargic & mellow island living.

ASD: It looks like you travel a LOT. Be honest- are you just like a hippie backpack wanderer? Do you even have a day job?

R: Oh my life is full of latergrams & living for the weekend to do something adventurous with friends! I do have a day job as a data entry clerk, which is awfully boring. Vacation helps for some really unique location photos! I am definitely not a backpacking hippie, kind of wish I was haha!

ASD: What was the last movie you watched, and how would you rate it: Worth the price of admission or Save it for Redbox?

R: The last movie I watched was Interstellar. It was visually stunning, emotionally moving & just overall mind blowing. Definitely worth the price of admission & I would watch it over and over again!

ASD: How does your faith impact your life & art?

R: I am a man of faith and it’s everything to me. There is so much gratitude & appreciation in my faith that a picture can greatly express. The beauty that definitely surrounds us. In the highest mountain, in the fog, in a stunning sunset, and in a portrait of His greatest creation, YOU. It captures so much of the creation of our Heavenly Father & I’m thankful for the opportunity to live each day, to breathe, and witness His majesty all around.

ASD: I got goosebumps when your waterfall picture said “glory glory glory.” What does that mean to you?

R: So when I captioned “glory, glory, glory” on the photo of Snoqualmie Falls, it was what I felt would best describe what I encountered that day: beauty, awe, & appreciation. It’s just stunning to get to witness something like that.

ASD: Amen brother. A-men.


Thank you so much, my insta-friend, for subjecting yourself to this grilling and giving us a glimpse of the guy behind the feed. All the best to you in life, on Instagram, in your travels, and in your boring day job!

I’d love for you to go say hi and follow Ranan on Instagram! Tell him I sent you, and that we all know he’s really a hippie. ;-)

{photos copyright @itsranan, used with permission} 


  1. Oh my, what a glorious Instagram feed (it makes me want to pack my bags and hit the road)! So lovely to meet you (via Colleen of Lemon Thistle) and I'm excited to explore this space some more!

    Amy | Club Narwhal

    1. Hi Amy!! I know, where is my backpack?! ;-) So glad to meet you too!! That Colleen, she's gold. xo!

  2. #instalove (insert all the heart emojis)


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