Look around at the content published on most travel blogs these days and you’ll find a common trend – blog post titled ’10 Great places to visit in [insert destination here]’ or ‘Five things to do in [insert destination here]’. We are all guilty of it, including myself, because this type of content gets links and a lot of social media activity, but what has happened to story telling?
So, let me tell you a story…
In early 2012 while walking down Park Row in Leeds City Centre I glanced up and noticed for the first time a fascinating decorative carving on a building that I have walked past at least once a week for the past twenty years. This made me wonder what the story was behind this building and what else had I missed while wandering aimlessly around the city.
I then found myself paying more attention to my surroundings and stopping to look up when travelling around the city. Try it, you will be amazed how much more you discover about the place you live in. I started posting photos of what I found on Twitter and Instagram, and from this the #lookupleeds hashtag was born. Over time more and more people have participated and these photos have shown a completely different side to the city that even local people have not noticed – never mind tourists.
On Instagram alone they’re in excess of 400 photos and one of my writers on My Life in Leeds started to look at the photos people were uploading and wrote guides to tell the story about the building or street. When we told readers that during the Georgian era, great spectator events took place on Briggate, where the people of Leeds could throw dead rats and poo at criminals, the traffic to the website went crazy – I’m not sure what that tells us about our readers though!
So, is there a point to all this?
Yes, I would like to see more bloggers story telling and using photography to help tell the story. What I see are bloggers publishing photos of food, beaches, hotel rooms, and popular tourist attractions that everyone has seen – why not wander off the beaten track, or stop, look up and find unusual things to photograph, then do some research and tell your readers about this quirky looking building or place that they must visit.
Yesterday I found this grumpy looking chap on the side of the Town Hall. I am sure there is a story to tell..
You can do some fantastic things with WordPress and photography with very little technical skills. A few plugins worth checking out are Instapress where you can bring in photos from a given feed into your blog posts, or for galleries I use NextGEN. You will also find plugins for Flickr and other photo services. The jQuery Colorbox is a plugin I use with NextGEN to create slideshows, and make the images much more presentable.
This leads me on to my final tip – one thing I have learnt recently when writing about a destination is that you have to be creative and think outside of the box. In the next stage of the #lookupleeds project the plan is to launch a family friendly trail, along with a map that can be downloaded and printed. I am also working on an exhibition in the city to showcase the photos.