In Community, Travel
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My husband and I just returned from an unforgettable trip to London and Paris. It was noteworthy for several reasons: we’ve never traveled abroad, have never taken a vacation longer than one week, and have rarely traveled without other companions. And despite some pre-travel jitters on my part, it was memorable in the best-possible way.

Of course, as a photographer, I was anticipating the many photo ops I’d encounter. I had two cameras at the ready at all times–my Fuji X100S and my Polaroid SX-70. And as you might guess, I captured more images than anyone (except myself and my husband) will ever care to look at. In London we saw many of the usual tourist spots: the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum…you get the idea. And I couldn’t get enough of the street art, local markets and charming street scenes.

But another aspect of the trip that excited me was the chance to connect with an online friend for the first time.

In fact, this particular friend was Viewfinders’ very own Kirstin McKee! My husband and I had the pleasure of spending time with Kirstin and her delightful family on our last evening in London. Together we enjoyed walking through Greenwich, drinking cocktails in the garden, and feasting on home-baked bread and pasta. And you know what? We took very few photos in our time together. Our focus was on getting to know one another, and cameras were mostly set aside.

Kirstin snagged this selfie at the Greenwich Observatory.And I took a portrait of Kirstin in her garden. (Ah, I love Polaroid for portraits.) 

How wonderful it was to meet a virtual friend in real life! Photography brought us together initially, but spending time together in person gave us the chance to connect on a different level.

Here’s the thing: There are many reasons to dislike social media, and what we see online is often a misrepresentation of actual daily life. But connecting with other photographers, no matter if they’re across town or across the ocean, is one aspect of social media that I adore. Building friendships through Instagram, photography blogs, Flickr (remember the Flicker heyday?) and other platforms has brought new friends into my life that I’d otherwise never have known.

So, if you’re not making connections on social media, perhaps today is the day to start. Beyond the double-tap or “likes,” take time to comment, to start conversations, to engage on a deeper level. Who knows…maybe the virtual friend will one day become a friend IRL.

~Leslie Adams

P.S. I have more to share from this trip, so stay tuned! (Also, are you interested in seeing my process for keeping a travel journal? Let me know in the comments below.)








  1. Love love love! I couldn’t agree more about connecting in a real way online. We had the pleasure of meeting Kirstin and kiddos when in London, and I’ve had a few other meet ups with Flickr, FB, and IG pals. Love your images. xo

    • Ah, thanks, Lucy! Meetups are the best, aren’t they?

  2. Beautiful!
    And how fantastic that you met up with Kirstin!!!

    And, yes, would LOVE to know more about your process for keeping a travel journal!
    (that was a lot of exclamation points 😉

    • Michelle, it was such a fun time! (I wish we could coordinate a meetup with all Viewfinders contributors!) Stay tuned for more on the travel journal. 😉

    • Thanks, Jeff! We will enjoy these memories for years to come.

  3. You have just described a part of my dream vacation – to travel around the world and meet, in-person, the many fine friends I have met online – those photographers who have inspired and encouraged me and who have become dear friends. So happy for you and Kirstin to meet! And yes, I would love to learn all about your travel journal process!

    • Donna, meeting Kirstin and family was so fun (and I met another photographer in Paris), and makes me want to travel and connect more! Thanks for your feedback on the travel journal, too. Stay tuned!

  4. It was such a fantastic afternoon/evening. One that will stay in all of our memories for a very long time.
    Now. When are you coming back? x

    • We enjoyed every minute! (So fun to see all of Ella’s journals, among other things.) We’re ready to come back soon. (Italy, maybe?)

  5. This is so wonderful! It is always so good to meet up in real life, and like you I love this aspect about social media. Beautiful captures of your awesome trip!

    • Thank you, Cathy! It’s nice to be able to put the “social” into social media in a tangible way.

  6. Have been anticipating your photos. Looking forward to the rest of them and want to see you journaling

    • Thank you! I need to get to work on all the digital photos (I have a lot, haha) and print a book of some sort that we can have to easily look through.

  7. So wonderful that you made the IRL connection! I have been able to do so in a few occasions. Yes! Would love to see how you journal and get ready for your travels.

    • Isn’t it fun to meet online friends? What a real treat it is! Hoping to share the travel journal next time 🙂

  8. Hi Leslie,
    I just viewed your lovely photos and the story of your visit abroad. Please tell me more about your process of travel journaling.
    Many thanks!

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