8 Instagram Photos {and their backstories}

As a daily user of Snapchat, I’ve come to love this social media channel. It’s unfiltered, spontaneous, and silly. In short, Snapchat is fun. It’s given me an outlet to show a real glimpse of my daily life in Paris and beyond. For those who have been following me on Facebook, Twitter, this site, and Instagram for however many years, it’s likely that my actual voice and personality have never been conveyed. Through Snapchat, you’ll hear my thick Texas twang, along with my excessive use of sarcasm. But what does Snapchat have to do with Instagram photos?

Leah Walker_Train Italy

Going through Facebook and Instagram, I see the beautifully polished photos from my friends’ and my travels, but on Snapchat, I see the stories behind the photos. Often, they are entertaining blooper reels, but for me, these snaps also round out the photos’ stories. I don’t know, maybe knowing the behind-the-scenes adds a layer of depth and meaning that I like when it comes to pretty pictures.Leah Travels Snapcode

This feeling inspired me to choose some of my favorite Instagram photos each month and provide their backstories. More often than not, social media is just a rosy rendition of life for myself and the rest of the world. On purpose, I don’t share a lot of my personal life. You’ll likely never know when I’m sad, hurt, angry, or elated, but through Snapchat, I’ve loosened those privacy reigns a bit.

Maybe people care what I’m doing and maybe they don’t. Regardless, Instagram is a personal diary for me, an album of my daily life. Rarely will you find a #Latergram, as the photos are a map of my daily comings and goings. For me, looking through my Instagram feed triggers memories of when the photos were snapped. The frustrations, joy, or tranquility of the moments are brought back in an instant, for better or worse. Although I’m not trowing open the door to my private life completely, I do feel like sharing a bit more of myself, for better or worse. Thus, consider this monthly series a more personal extension of that Instagram album.

Notre Dame in Paris

Around 6:00 pm, I was meeting a friend at Notre Dame, one of Paris’ iconic landmarks. The day was his mother’s birthday, and he wanted to honor her memory by placing a single red rose into the Seine. While waiting for him to arrive, the sky behind Notre Dame appeared ombré, transitioning from blue to black. Despite the ominous sky, the sun shone brightly on the famed cathedral.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont in Paris

Sunday mornings are quiet in Paris, and it’s one of my favorite times to get out and explore. This was one of the first blue-sky days of spring, and the blossoms were just beginning to appear. I took a friend to Parc des Buttes Chaumont, one of my favorite green spaces tucked away into the 19th arrondissement. We walked throughout the hill-filled park for a few hours, before sitting on a bench for some prime people watching. No tourists, only sunshine and the first signs of spring.

Les Deux Magots in Paris

It was a rainy morning, but the terrace at Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés was filled, as usual. The famed cafe is around the corner from my apartment, and a day doesn’t pass that I don’t look to the green awnings and smile. A former haunt of one of my literary heroes, Ernest Hemingway, Les Deux Magots is a favorite of French and tourists alike.

I often pull out my camera when I spot the smartly-dressed waiters in their classic black pants, bow ties, and aprons, but on this grey day, it was an elderly gentleman scribbling on a piece of paper that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a scene frozen in time, from his hounds-tooth cap to his classic khaki coat and pants. I captured the moment with my iPhone and went on to the Monoprix for my groceries. Just another day in Paris.

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris

Walking is my favorite pastime in Paris, which definitely qualifies me as a flâneuse. On this Tuesday, I set out on foot from the 15th arrondissement in search of spring, with Jardin des Tuileries as my intended destination. The grey morning gave way to blue skies as I reached Place de la Concorde, one of my favorite vantage points in Paris. I was able to capture several of the city’s icons in this Instagram square.

Les Halles in Paris

Once a fresh food market in central Paris, Les Halles has long been an eyesore in the city. After millions of euros and several years, this area has been revitalized and redeveloped into shopping center. It was the first Saturday since opening Les Halles, and a friend and I wanted to check it out. Before going into the oddly modern structure, we wandered the stalls of a few artists, where I spotted this cutie pie taking a snooze, oblivious to the crowds around him.

La Palette in Paris

I love watching people on terraces almost as much as I love sitting on terraces. A few minutes walk from my flat in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is La Palette. A former haunt of Cézanne, Picasso, Hemingway, and Jim Morrison, La Palette’s terrace is a magnet for art students and gallery owners alike. On this day, I met a friend for tea. Distracted by the group of 6-8 men playing cards and smoking cigars, I captured this photo after a young woman left her Macbook Pro and Coke Zero for a bathroom break.

Montestignano in Tuscany, Italy

The end of April was spent in Italy, one of my favorite places in the world. It was my first morning at Montestignano, an estate farm in the Tuscan countryside. Normally an early riser, I checked the sunrise time and set my alarm for five minutes before. As soon as my iPhone screamed for me to wake up, I turned off the alarm and rolled over in my bed. There was a small bit of light streaming through the crack in the wooden shutters, and I wanted nothing more than a few more hours of sleep. I tossed and turned for a few minutes, before curiosity got the better of me. I crawled out of bed and opened the shutters, only to find a blanket of fog canvasing the valley below.

Siena in Italy

After a hearty Tuscan lunch at Montestignano, I boarded a van for a fifteen-minute drive to Siena. For years, I’ve wanted to visit this ancient and historical city. Around each corner was a post card scene, which left my camera’s battery drained. The blue skies and sunshine brought a vividness to Siena that’s difficult to describe. The few hours were but a tease, which left me wanting for more.

If you’re not already, please consider following my Instagram and Snapchat accounts. And check back next month for more photos and backstories.

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  • Mariola Galletti
    May 17, 2016

    Nice photos Leah. Thanks for sharing this post.

  • Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine
    June 19, 2016

    I think this is such a brilliant idea, Leah! I’ve definitely caught the Snapchat bug and my Instagram has fallen so far by the wayside it’s not even funny. This actually inspires me to get back to the ‘gram and do it in a way that I can enjoy it. Love it. 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      July 21, 2016

      Speaking of falling by the wayside, I’d intended to do this every month. You’ve inspired me to get another month’s backstories going.


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