We can't click on those hearts fast enough. When Austin’s creative energy is funneled through the Instagram feeds of visual visionaries, magic happens. We look to them to see the best of our city through their filters. Here are four of our favorite 'Grammers who have attracted legions of fans with their unique takes on fashion and food, music and design. Wherever they go, we follow.
Even the photos Jackie Lee Young takes here in Austin have a far-away feel on her Instagram feed, undoubtedly influenced by her upbringing overseas, where she traveled extensively with her family, a disposable camera in hand. Profoundly influenced by a Seydou Keita book of portraits given to her by a professor at St. Edward’s University, Young started focusing on fashion editorials in 2014. Now the social media manager of Bunkhouse Group, which manages hotels like the San Jose and Saint Cecilia, Young was drawn to Instagram instantly. Her following exploded when Instagram featured her early on, but the reaction to her edgy, ‘70s-soaked images wasn’t all hearts. "People were yelling at me through comments saying nasty things … but I never tried to change my style," recalls Young, who now boasts 87,000-plus followers. She has spent much of the year focusing on music photography: "The New York Times found me via IG, and I’ve worked with them through the platform as well as a surprising music branch of a career as well."
Favorite photogenic spot: The James Turrell Skyspace installation, "The Color Inside," at UT at sunset. Everyone must go and lie on the ground and sit through the sequence.
Prime people watching: Tillery Street Plant Company. Everyone loves plants, so you’re getting a variety of people at that place.
On weekends you’ll find me: at Hotel San Jose. Not only is it beautiful and extremely photogenic, they have amazing workshops there seasonally and a reggae DJ. It rules.
Austin holidays aren’t complete without: a trip to the Trail of Lights.
Sisters who travel together and eat together naturally must Instagram together. What started on a whim while Lindsay and Morgan Vandygriff were on vacation two years ago, @EatingATX now has more than 33,000 followers who are drawn to the twenty-something sisters’ food adventures. “In no way are we professionals…but we have found a love for getting creative and trying out new ways to make the food look its best,” says Morgan, a full-time finance senior. It comes with a price, though: The pleasure of eating food while it’s still warm is just a memory now, and salads are bypassed for choices like the more Insta-appealing lobster mac and cheese. Adds Lindsay, who works full-time at accounting firm Holtzman Partners: “We take all of our photos with our iPhones. It still is only a hobby for us; the only difference is that now tens of thousands of other people are watching our hobby, which still blows our minds!”
Most photogenic restaurant: Elizabeth Street Café—with bright colored walls, pastries, cute furniture, and uhhhhmazing food, it is definitely perfect for the ‘gram.
Prime people-watching: The downtown farmers’ market on Saturday morning. Grab a cup of coffee and pastries and watch people haggle over veggie prices.
On weekends you’ll find us: At brunch on South Congress. It’s a requirement for all millennials in Austin to brunch on weekends.
Favorite bites: Kimchi fries at Chi’Lantro BBQ and tacos at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ.
Charles Reagan Hackleman has always enjoyed looking at life through the viewfinder. As an Austin TV reporter for almost a decade, the UT grad never had trouble getting a photo pass, which he’d use to indulge his hobby. After shooting the Fun Fun Fun Festival in 2012, he decided to take the leap into full-time photography. “Becoming a full-time freelancer is hard, and will always be hard. You have to find a way to stand out from a very large crowd,” he says. Instagram, which featured him early on, has done much for Hackleman, who remembers his first Insta image as a photo of a “I voted for Obama” pint of beer. “Instagram became my go-to promotional tool,” he recalls. “I was traveling a ton and loved having a virtual gallery to show people.” Now a staff photographer for Lollapalooza and the ACL music festivals, he saw his followers swell after a musician with 2 million followers posted a photo of Hackleman’s with proper credit, which doesn’t always happen.
Favorite photogenic place: Zilker Park during ACL, in a bucket 80 feet in the air, with 30,000 people below you while the sun is setting and the skyline is sparkling.
Prime people watching is at: ACL, hands down. I get paid to literally watch people until that perfect moment, which hopefully I captured.
On the weekends you’ll find me: on the Greenbelt, or outside of Austin in the Big Bend area.
The holidays in Austin aren’t complete without: a fancy hotel bar hop.
While studying architecture at Virginia Tech, Chase Daniel actually fell in love with photography because of Instagram. “What started as driving back roads in Virginia taking pictures with my iPhone has now turned into my favorite hobby and career.” The Dallas native, who now works at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in Austin, sometimes works with spirit brands and furniture makers, but recently most of his photography clients have been local architects. Through his artful and intelligent Instagram feed, which has more than 43,000 followers, Daniel has met friends and added a whole new layer to his career. “I enjoy combining my passion of photography and architecture by telling well-crafted stories through capturing beautifully designed spaces,” he says. “This all started with a desire to go out and Instagram things.”
Favorite photogenic spot: The 360 Bridge overlook (also known as the Pennybacker Bridge). To avoid the sunset crowds, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a sunrise all to yourself.
Prime people-watching: South by Southwest has to be one of my favorite times of the year to walk around downtown and just observe.
On weekends you’ll find me: With my wife Lauren perusing estate sales, walking around plant nurseries, and going on breakfast dates.
The holidays in Austin aren’t complete without: A trip to the Christmas light show at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters! It’s a really cool show played to holiday music—and you can enjoy some warm hot chocolate as you watch.