#magicalplace by Sarah Murphy in Block Island, Rhode Island

When not traveling around the world, Sarah Murphy and her boyfriend call Rhode Island’s Block Island home. On her Instagram feed, Sarah posts beautiful photos that capture the enjoyment and adventure of living life to its fullest. Get in on the fun by following her at @sarahirenemurphy

Name:Sarah Murphy

Place you live: My boyfriend Stefaan and I have been traveling for more than a year and a half, so technically we are living like nomads at the moment. Between bigger trips we bounce back and forth between New York City, Connecticut and the beautiful Block Island, RI, where Stefaan’s family has a house. Although we aren’t from Block Island and we don’t live there full-time, we do spend as much time out there as we possibly can. After traveling to more than 17 countries in the last year, it’s still one of our favorite places on earth.

Place your Instagrams were taken? Block Island, Rhode Island

Can you sum up the place you live? Imagine rolling green hills divided by beautiful stone walls that stretch on for miles.  Empty beaches with dark grey clay from the bluffs that you can spread all over your body.  Beautiful lighthouses and long walks to private coves.  September brings crisp clean waves and warm late summer air.  Block Island is a magical place with hidden gems everywhere, if you’re willing to look.

What is a perfect day in Block Island? An ideal day in Block Island would begin at early morning, because having a full day on the island is a must.  We hop in the 1953 Jeep and head down to the Old Post Office Bagel shop for some of the best homemade bagels and muffins in the Northeast, made by our friends Bill and Allison. On the way back to the house, we stop to check the surf and the wind.  Once we’ve packed up our lunch and surf boards, we head out for a full day at the beach. When everyone is nice and sunburned, it’s time to head back to the house for a quick outdoor shower.  From there we get ready for the afternoon adventure, which changes from day to day. Sometimes it’s a sunset walk down Grace’s Cove Road, other days if we’re feeling a bit more motivated we’ll strap the canoe to the roof and take it out on the Great Salt Pond.  A lot of times we stay at the house and make cocktails with mint from the yard, then climb up on the roof for a full 360 degree view of the island while the sun goes down.  Doesn’t get better than that.

If Block Island was a person who would it be and why? If Block Island was a person, it would have to be Stefaan.  Everything about the island reminds me of him. From the smell of the jeep, to the clean crispy waves at Yellow Kittens where he taught me how to surf years ago.  We’ve been going out there together for so long that it’s become such an important place for us. A place that we can share with each other as well as our favorite people.  When I think about Block Island it feels like home, so it’s natural that Stefaan would fit right into that.

How long have you been using Instagram? We started using Instagram just over two years ago when we began our big trip.  I remember packing up our Toyota Tacoma for our three-month road trip through the US. By the time we had reached Savannah, GA we had heard so much about IG that we thought it would be a great way to document our adventure for our friends and family to see.  We never could have imagined the community that we would become a part of from then on.  Not only have we met amazing fellow travelers through IG, but we have been exposed to so many inspiring people doing wonderful things, I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? I shoot with both my iPhone 5s and my Mamiya 6 rangefinder. I love shooting film for so many reasons: the quality and color, the unexpected surprises and of course the reward when everything works.  Having my iPhone with me is just as important.  Especially to get that instant gratification that I can’t with my Mamiya.  Both have different benefits, but to me are just as fun to use.

What is your editing process? VSCO is my editing tool of choice. They’ve done such an amazing job of creating a beautiful way to edit photos and it’s fun!  I generally start with the C1, F2 or G3 preset and adjust the exposure, temperature and saturation from there depending on the image.

Do you create images outside of Instagram? I am constantly shooting with my Mamiya 6.  It’s an awesome feeling to get film back from a trip that was taken months earlier and be reminded of how amazing it was in a completely different way.  It’s so interesting to see both the similarities and differences in the way I shoot film versus the way I shoot on my iPhone.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? Definitely.  I’ve always loved photography, but with a textile background from Rhode Island School of Design, it wasn’t something that I took too seriously until Stefaan and I decided to leave our jobs and travel the world.  This was right around the time that Instagram was created so learning to shoot our travels while sharing the images with our following was an awesome way to connect instantly.  It’s been an amazing learning experience to see what people respond to, and when I look back on my photos from the start of my account I can see a huge amount of growth and change in the direction of my work.

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? I usually go by three key items:
Consistency – it’s important that your images relate to one another. Whether it’s the image itself or the way you choose to edit, you want the entire story to be cohesive.
Curation – filtering out your images is very important. You want to make sure you’re choosing images that not only work together but really articulate a consistent mood or feeling. I take a lot of time to curate my gallery. Every photo is well thought out, and I feel this is crucial in having viewers return again for more.
Storytelling – I see my gallery as one large storybook. A place that not only visually tells my viewers about what inspires me, but also gives them a reason to return again to see where the next adventure has taken me. People are drawn towards things they can relate to and both Stefaan and I strive to create work that is both attainable and beautiful. It’s important to us that we can inspire people to create their own stories.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers? There are so many people who inspire me on a regular basis through Instagram, it’s hard to choose! But, the following people constantly blow me away. @alexstrohl and @andreadabene are an amazing traveling duo that I have admired for a very long time. Their photos are not only stunning but they also get me excited to explore many of the places that I haven’t been to yet!

@ouropenroad We both started traveling around the same time and have followed one another since the beginning. They are currently living out of their VW on an epic road trip through South America. Although we have been on very different adventures it’s always inspiring to see these guys live life the way they do.

@sdpnt of course! We may travel to many of the same places but I will always admire the way he interprets each place in a whole different way than I do. His talent is out of this world and I am so lucky to have him as my travel partner!


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Name:Sarah Murphy

City:Block Island, Rhode Island

Best place to eat:

Old Post Office Bagel Shop

Best place to drink:

The Spring House porch at sunset … or the roof of our house.

Best outdoor activity:  

Anything at the beach: surfing, swimming, lounging

Must do:

Rent a house on the west side for the best sunset views. Stay for at least one week. Walk the trails at Rodman’s Hollow, surf at Black Rock or sunbathe with the nudists (if that’s your thing), walk out to North Point to see the oceans collide. If you’re lucky you’ll see some seals basking in the sun.

Local tip:  

Make sure you explore outside of town. There are so many hidden gems to be found on this island.