Love it or hate it, we are living through the digital age and just about anyone with a smartphone has the potential to become an Instagram star. They charm us with beautiful images, tempt us with tasty food pics, make us laugh unexpectedly and sometimes evoke a little envy. Instagram has an undeniable appeal and allows us some escapist fun. So if you’re looking to add a little local flavor to you feed, you might want to check out a few of our favorite accounts.
With a dedicated audience of close to half a million followers, plus-size model and blogger Chanté Burkett is inspiring and empowering women all over the world with her great style, boss-babe moves and sense of humor. In 2015, Chanté was the first plus-size blogger to be featured in Target’s body-positive ‘Target Loves Every Body’ ad campaign. She uses her Instagram account to spark conversations about style, entrepreneurship and the realities of being a woman in the modern digital world.
“If I’m not blogging you can catch me on my Instagram daily,” Burkett shares. “I use Instagram to share my story as I navigate through life. I’ve connected with so many women and built some great friendships that started on Instagram.”
If you’re inspired by striking nature photography, you must check out the Instagram feed of Dianne Gillespie. She has a serious passion for photography, nature and animals that has led her to create a series of consistently awe-inspiring images.
“I like to promote and highlight what I refer to as the ‘Real Florida,’” Gillespie explains. “For so many, when they think of Florida, they automatically think of Mickey Mouse. Florida is so much more than that in my opinion.”
Gillespie, who has lived in Ocala for the past 13 years and works in the elder care services field, abandoned at least one of her other social media accounts to embrace a medium that better suited her sensibilities.
“I deleted my Twitter account and went to Instagram for a more positive social media experience,” she recalls. “I have a wonderful group of followers and enjoy interacting with them. I love making new connections from around the globe.”
It’s almost impossible to not crack a smile at the silly faces that animals make, but just like comedy… it’s all in the timing. That’s something the folks at Kindred Spirits Sanctuary know all too well. The 140 sanctuary residents receive around-the-clock care and high-quality diets and enjoy spacious barns and green pastures in which to laze and graze.
“We seek to provide a place where people can connect with these sentient beings and discover their unique and often humorous personalities,” explains Education & Outreach Coordinator Michelle Lovegrove. “One of our most photogenic residents is Felicia. She is an 11-year-old factory farm pig that was rescued in 2008 when a factory farm in Iowa flooded and the farmer locked up the pigs and left them,” she continues. “We post on Instagram at least once daily, sometimes twice. Not only do our followers enjoy keeping up with our residents and their daily lives, but we’re also hoping to help others make a connection and realize that each of our residents are individuals with their own quirks and personalities.”
And take it from us, these extraordinary creatures get caught making some seriously silly faces for the camera in a variety of wacky poses.
“From the time we’ve been active on Instagram, we have made many connections and met many like-minded people,” Lovegrove shares. “It has made it simple for us to show our followers that we appreciate them and their enthusiasm about what we do at Kindred Spirits Sanctuary.”
There is certainly no shortage of great eats in our area and Stephanie Risher has become a mini-tour guide for all things fresh and delicious. A professional web developer who moved to the area from Oregon, she originally established a blog to document her favorite Ocala eateries and dishes. She quickly discovered, however, that Instagram was a better vehicle for her musings.
“I’ve always been an appreciator of food. It’s a great talent to be able to create something that looks and tastes good. It’s not a skill that I have quite mastered myself, so I really admire the ability in others,” she explains. “Ocala has so many fantastic local restaurants with ever-changing menus so there’s plenty of opportunities for photos. What I love about Instagram is that it gets me to try new things.” she continues. “The coolest thing about my time on Instagram has been getting to see all the passionate and talented chefs we have in our community, both professional and amateur. I love looking at everyone’s posts and seeing all the delicious food.”
Sign us up for extra helpings!