#adventure by Fernando Samalot in Puerto Rico

Having graduated with flying colors from the “School of Instagram”, Fernando Samalot’s only photographic outlet is and and ever was using his iPhone and Instagram to share beautiful pictures of his home in Puerto Rico.  A shining example of the power of social networking and mobile phoneography, Fernando’s Instagram feed shows us where photography is now and where it’s going.  From not being a photographer to his work being seen by thousands of people, the medium has taken leaps and bounds over the past few years.  Check out Fernando’s incredible photographs of Puerto Rico and follow him here: @simonebirch

Name:Fernando Samalot

Place you live: Puerto Rico

Can you sum up Puerto Rico?  Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean, it’s tropical climate and biodiversity make it a treasure chest for nature and adventure lovers. I’ve been living here for 27 years and still discover new and more amazing places every day. Filled with Mystical Rivers, Holy Mountains, Tropical Beaches, Rainforests, Dry Forests, Caves, you name it! There’s always somewhere beautiful to explore.

If someone was visiting, what must they do?  First off, they should come at least a week so they have time to explore most of what the island has to offer.  Our island is quite small, only 112×40 miles, so you can cover a lot of land if you use your time wisely. Secondly, if they really want to get into it, they should contact and befriend a local. There is a secret beauty hidden in this island that most visitors will not experience unless they have someone to show them around or at least point them in the right direction. There are many off the beaten path tour guides available or simply people who love showing people around. This is the time when apps such as Instagram can really help connect you with people! I myself am constantly being contacted by people who are looking for adventure and I am always more than happy to take them. That’s not the only way, though, there are many accessible and more known places that you could visit on your own if you don’t have much time. El Yunque Rainforest, for one, is a great and popular destination. You can get your fix of rainforest, mountains and river here.

If tropical beaches are more of what you want, our island is surrounded by beautiful ones on all shores. Some of these are: Playa Sucia in Cabo Rojo, Mar Chiquita in Manatí, Mar Bella in Vega Alta, Punta Yegüa in Yabucoa and countless others. Some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, however, are in our small neighboring islands, Vieques and Culebra. Just a one hour ferry ride away are white sand beaches and turquoise waters that make for an unforgettable experience. Not to mention one of the world’s few Bioluminescent Bays, truly one of the most magical places on Earth. (Some of the pictures I’ve shared here are from Vieques.) So wether it be for a short visit or a prolonged one, Puerto Rico has much to see and to offer. If you’re ever coming over and want to adventure, feel free to contact me through Instagram, you can also check out my pictures for any places you would like to go and I’d be more than happy to share them with you!

Best meal? If you’re ever in the metropolitan area, I highly recommend stopping by El Departamento De La Comida in Santurce.  They serve lunch prepared from organic produce from various farms in the island.  One of the few places that has this commitment to local and organic agriculture, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in good and healthy, quality food! Another option is going to our local organic markets, held every two sundays in La Plazita de la Roosevelt and every saturday in Old San Juan.

How long have you been using Instagram?  I’ve been using Instagram for almost two years now.  I had never really taken pictures before that. It started off as just a way to capture my daily experiences but slowly went evolving into one of the most meaningful and profound channels of expression I’ve ever had.  Instagram was my photography school.  Being exposed to so many incredibly talented artists, thinkers and adventurers inspired me in ways I had never dreamed of. I had so many teachers who, unknown to them, completely changing my life. From composition to editing and storytelling, through Instagram I learned everything I know. Throughout these years and through this tiny screen, I was absorbing everything, taking in the influences, the beauty, the places, training my eye and slowly finding my own style.  I pretty much have Instagram to thank for any development in my photography, which has today become one of the most important aspects of my life.

What phone camera do you use to shoot?  Up until three weeks ago, all my shots were taken and edited with my iphone 4s.  I am now shooting with the 5s and have recently gotten into taking video as well, something I never really thought I’d get into.

What is your Editing process? At least for my work, the editing is just as important as the pictures themselves, and a part of the process I truly enjoy. I love sitting down with an image and slowly transforming it until it becomes what I want.  Although I try to keep the images and colors as faithful to what I was witnessing, I often end up taking them to a more oneiric, or dream-like state.  My editing process for the last two years consisted of mixing and matching the apps Snapseed, Picfx and Afterlight, in that order.  I’ve recently started using other apps such as VSCOcam, Average Camera Pro and Pro HDR and I feel they’ve added something to my pictures.  Sometimes I’ll have a few different edits for the same picture and try mixing them with apps such as Superimpose. I’m constantly trying new things and feel I still have a long way to go but experimenting has definitely been a key part in finding my own style.

Do you create images outside of instagram?  I don’t. Instagram is pretty much my primary channel of photography.

Who are your three favorite instagrammers?  Whoa! Narrowing it down to three is really difficult but I could share some of the people who really influenced me and who were unknowingly my teachers.

I learned about composition and had my thirst for adventure stirred by the amazing @ravivora, who I had the honor of meeting when I was living in LA for a few months and he was as nice and kind as his pictures are amazing.

I learned about editing from @circa_1983, who is always creating beautiful works of art from nature. I remember reading a tutorial he made for PicFx which completely changed my editing style. I call him Sensei whenever we interact on Instagram.

It was @evanjamesatwood‘s feed who first inspired me to make my photography much more personal.  Although we’ve never really talked, his influence over me is still present to this day. It’s amazing how these strangers from different parts of the world can have such an effect on you, even if it’s unknown to them.