Barbecues and Breweries by John Dunaway in Houston, Texas

John Dunaway “travels the globe through the merchant marine, visiting lands and cultures abroad, yet always finding the experiences even as close as home just as important.” A very talented photographer, you can check out his world and follow along @abstractconformity.

Name:John Dunaway

Place you live: Houston, TX

Occupation: Merchant Mariner deck officer on a cargo ship

Preoccupation: Taking in the views of the world, snapping photos along the way. Photography, waterfowl hunting, sharing meals with folks, vinyl records.

Place your Instagrams were taken? Houston, TX

Can you sum up Houston? An emerging lifestyle metropolis that’s risen from the shadows of its flat past. Most people shrug off Houston but it holds opportunities from museums and stellar cuisine to backyard setting bars in local communities. It holds many of the same elements which are the allure of larger publicized cities.

What is a perfect day in Houston? Rise with the sun to brew a fresh batch of coffee and then sitting outside to read a few periodicals with the dogs before my wife rises. Any activity that keeps me in the sunlight through the day leaves me smiling. As life goes on I see it in frozen time and I try to capture on some photographic medium. At the end of the day I want to be drinking a cold cocktail, cooking up a fresh meal and sitting under the patio lights. A final cold beer cheers to another great day.

If Houston was a person or character who would it be and why? Houston would be Nolan Ryan, a former Astros Pitcher. He had his talent to whirl baseballs from the mound, doing so with precision. He stood strong by that talent, but when someone came after him, Nolan didn’t fear throwing a mean punch to stand his ground. Houston is like Nolan Ryan in that regardless of what people say or think, the city stands strong with many talents and isn’t afraid to strike those whom attack. After all, it has the 8th Wonder! Ha.

How long have you been using Instagram? Just over two years with actual focus on the content I wished to share.

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? 98% of my photos come off my iPhone 6. Just lately, I’ve added in a shot from a film camera scan or DSLR if it is related directly to a project I shot with that camera.

What is your editing process? I shoot through VSCOcam off the bat for the exposure and focal point controls. With the ability to copy presets, I find myself using them for shots of the same general lighting, but I always tweak something. Each photo is a fraction of captured time that speaks of its own character so the colors must match my feeling of that moment. Lately, I have added SnapSeed into the flow for adjustments where I want to add more black with better precision for the tone.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? Absolutely. “The best camera is the one you carry with you.” Having the ability to capture moments as they develop occurs so much more often with the size of the phone being in my pocket where carrying a “regular” camera just doesn’t suit my environment. By shooting as I’m intrigued rather than hunting for shots, my eyes consistently find more and more elements. When I go about my day, my mind is constantly taking in everything around me with a greater appreciation for light, shapes, the textures that bring items to life and the raw emotions of people. Photographs can capture and later remind us of those details that cannot be replicated by the mind. By shooting phonography, I feel that my other aspects of photography have benefitted greatly, relative to my own position prior.

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? Shoot for you. If you set out to be “popular” you’ll never have a real voice. Fire a frame every time you are inspired, regardless of what its popularity may be. Look at the shot and ask yourself, “what do I like about it?” Now shoot a few more frames from different perspectives and move where the light hits the subject. Reflect on a shot you’ve seen by photographers whom you envy and question, “why does that shot catch my attention?” Don’t copy work for its reward. Replicate a shot by using the elements that caught your attention originally in your own setting. That original photograph captivated your emotions visually for a reason. By drawing on that, you’ll learn to shoot with purpose and focus, applying those elements to your own work which will tell their own story. You will have your own voice through photographs. Shoot because you desire to capture that moment, whatever the reason, as long as it is yours first.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers? It can vary with my mood, but the ladies have had my full attention for awhile.

@Brooke_weeber: She lives a life fully as it suits her style, hiking all over the Pacific Northwest. In that, she doesn’t shoot the repetitive lake reflection, but finds image that deliver personality to the moment. It makes me want to hop a plane back to Portland, grab a 6 pack for the campsite and go hike with her.

@_nata_: This girl just recently caught my attention with a dreamy underwater feed that has captured my full attention. She’s melding the life of people and nature together in her scenes, making me want to be swimming all day. I love being in the water anyways, but I want more after those photos.

@monaris_: She nails lifestyle in a concrete jungle, dashing them with quotes of wisdom.

Want more Instagram tips and inspiration? Check out all of our Best of Instagram features here and learn from the masters.

Want to be featured on our best of Instagram series and bask in the glory? Follow Global Yodel on Instagram and tag your best local shots with #GlobalYodel!


Name:John Dunaway


Best place to eat:

Original Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant. The homemade tortillas are a treat on their own, but my favorite is the central Mexican dish of cochinita pibil.

Best place to drink:

Johnny’s Gold Brick. Get a round of Boiler Makers for sure. Catch Leslie if she’s in and have her make you a Vieux Carre.

Best outdoor activity:

Come dusk, head to the James Turrell Skyspace with a clear mind to relax and absorb the light experience.

With a car, head down 288 towards Pearland to ride the wakeboard cable park. A great spot to escape the summer heat.

Must do:

Eat at Killen’s BBQ joint in Pearland. It’s rivaled as #1 in Texas. I’ve had the rest and he’s got my vote. Go early and try to make it a weekday stop.

Local tip:

Avoid Interstate 59, especially during rush hour. Go to Saint Arnold’s brewery for the weekday “tour” to let traffic subside while you enjoy four of their brews for $9. Buy a pint glass for a full pour. Best deal in town.