Such a small, simple idea popped into my head in 2015, and it all stemmed from a trip. After visiting Utah for the first time and hiking dozens of miles, I naturally was intrigued by the amazing landscape and scenes throughout the state I had seen and the ones I had dreamed to see one day.
I started following Instagram accounts showcasing the beautiful landscape fo Utah and realized that there was nothing like that I could find in New Jersey. So I did some thinking.
Often times, when introducing where I’m from to people outside New Jersey, there is a negative connotation to the entire state. I don’t know if it’s because of the Sopranos or the Jersey Shore TV Shows giving us a bad rap, or people just don’t like our state. Regardless of what they think, I knew (and still know!) we have amazing spots around the state that don’t get the credit or attention they deserve.
So I started my own mission to share the amazing places that New Jersey can offer by starting NJspots, which started as a hashtag at first. The goal was simple when I started: grow the popularity of the hashtag to have more people around the state using it. But little did I know, I seemed to have started something bigger.
Over the course of the next 5 years, NJspots has morphed in a community of people sharing their passion and love for photography and New Jersey all wrapped into one. Along the way there are a few things I’ve learned that I think are valuable concepts.
3 Things NJspots Has Taught Me
Our Meetups Are Really Special
As NJspots has grown and we’ve hosted more and more meetups, we have seen that the value of those meetups is so important for our community. It creates bonds between people, most of whom have never met, and helps sparked our minds.
Whether fellow photographers meet for the first time after we have been following each other on Instagram for years, or whether people find new forever friends! — it happens to me almost every meetup. I love meeting new faces that we have featured or I have followed. It brings social media to life.
In 2018, I wasn’t really able to host as many meetups as I would like to. So during the course of the year, I would ask our community what they wanted more from NJspots. Almost, every first answer was “more meetups”.
Meetups are so special and it allows a safe place for people to gather and enjoy the amazing places our state has to offer. They have been a huge part of connecting our community beyond a hashtag.
Backyard Adventures Are Sometimes the Best
When I started NJspots, I wanted to share the amazing places in our state by sharing images. But I wasn’t expecting to want to visit all of these places too. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some cool places in our state, but I didn’t know there were THAT many in New Jersey.
What has been really rewarding during this time is that NJspots has shared hundreds of places throughout New Jersey that I didn’t even know existed. So I would hope it has been able to do the same for our community.
My Top 5 “Yet To Visit” NJspots:
- Speedwell Lake
- Barnegat Light
- East Point Light
- Palisade Cliffs
- The Blue Hole
Those are some of my favorite spots to see through #NJspots but also that I want to visit. Tell me what yours are!
New Jersey Isn’t Really Divided…
Now we do have on our website “North”, “South”, “Central,” etc. but that’s easier for most people to navigate. Honestly, over the years and conversations I’ve had, I really don’t think that New Jersey can be divided into north, central, and south.
First off, why should it? We are one state and should be solidified. But secondly, I think between everyone’s opinion of where the cut-offs are, if there is a central jersey, what counties belong where, etc — man that’s a lot to think about. It’s just too much.
Secondly, the towns from High Point to Cape May have such unique spots and places to visit that they are only unique to New Jersey as a whole. From the Delaware Water Gap to the George Washington Bridge — it’s all New Jersey.
Our state and federally protected lands can’t be found in any other state, so why limit them to regions? Why not be proud of all the amazing places we can visit in New Jersey in a simple day trip? New Jersey is one of the smallest states, so I don’t think we need to make our adventure regions any smaller.
NJspots has been an amazing, ever-growing journey for me. Between meeting some amazing people, becoming more creative in photography, and appreciating our state, it’s something I’m proud to share with all of you and continue to see what great spots are yet to be shared and discovered.