With the Locals is an international web-brand about bringing people together on social media in the best way possible – highlighting the unique and cherished parts of every city, including those parts that aren’t necessarily on travel and tourism blogs under, “Top 10 Places to Visit.”
The brand launched on Instagram in June 2014 and secured their web page, withthelocals.co, in March 2016.
“Like most things, the concept constructed from lots of bits and pieces,” Brianna Wilson, founder of With the Locals and New York City resident, said.
“I have a habit of taking screenshots of places that others had posted about. My phone was constantly full (still is) of screenshots. On top of that, I’m a big believer in going to the source for information,” she added.
Brianna works with a team of people who put together photo tours of different localities across the world. Brianna, however, is the team-lead, responsible for all curating and care.
“I really believe in supporting others, teamwork and opening doors for others – both figuratively and literally. I’m an encourager by nature,” Brianna said.
A team player with a knack for sharing beautiful, organic photography, Brianna’s With the Locals brand spoke to us. We love getting to know people from all different backgrounds and are honoured to have the chance to share more of Brianna’s With the Locals’ story below:
- Where did your passion for city exploration and storytelling begin?
I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania – a curious little city on a lake that I never shut up about. (Seriously, I never shut up about it.) I studied Film Production at Penn State, moved to Brooklyn after college, then worked in film editing for few years before deciding to focus more on photography and travel.
You want to see someone at their best and worst, send them to New York. The city has a way of challenging people unlike anywhere else – it’s quick, honest, and always surprising.
Truthfully, I really didn’t like it here for the first year or so. For a lot of reasons, most of which that have faded away over time. Meeting my now husband was what made me start to fall for the city. For the first year, we would meet up after work and just walk for hours – headed in no real direction. He’s an explorer at his core and always up for anything. The man is cut for this city. His curiosity, confidence and persistence is infectious, and those are just tip-top qualities to have here.
- How many people do you have, roughly, using the hashtag #outwithlocals right now?
I really have no clue. I think there are roughly 7,000 photos tagged with #outwithlocals. The hashtag is more or less another way to connect with others – see where they’re venturing and get into the conversation.
- What’s the most common photo type you see?
On With the Locals, I think there is a fair amount of coffee and donut photos. I mean, what else does one need. On #outwithlocals, probably food, in general. Food is just a great way to experience a place, it’s a communal activity that speaks volumes about the culture of an area.
- It must feel so great to check Instagram and see all these unique photos from different cities associated with your hashtag. How do you select which photos to share on your own Instagram profile?
Totally! It’s always nice to cross paths with others with similar interests, and I hope that With the Locals is helping to bridge those connections for other people, as well.
On my own personal feed… omph, well, I spend a lot of time on Instagram, most of that being for With the Locals so often my own account is pushed to the side. But photography is kind of the common thread throughout my whole life, it has consistently fed me creatively for as long as I can remember. But there is no rhyme or reason to it, a lot of my cat Grandpa, some side projects, my travels, ventures around the city. Like this giant rabbit. It’s chaos over here.
- Do you have a favourite city to see pictures of? If yes, what is it?
Rome probably invokes the most sentimental response. I was 19, it was summer and I was there for a few months in school. It was the first city I really explored on my own. It was also pre-smartphones and my Italian was a total joke. I wandered a lot of that city by myself, so I got lost, often. I was living at an old monastery in Piazza Navona and lucked out with the most incredible view. I was studying architecture and film. The Italian guy at the gelato shop and I flirted through my broken Italian and his broken English, which I shamelessly ate every single night before dinner. Hey, when in Rome! Yes, it was all as cliché and romantic as it sounds.
- Do you ever get to travel to the different cities featured on With the Locals?
I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I would like to, but I get around – for work and fun. Whenever I’m in a city that has been featured, I always try to hit up at least one of the spots suggested on With the Locals.
Palm Springs was my one of the bigger ah-ha moments. It hit me there that this all actually works. Aside from where we were staying, I planned pretty much nothing else. Vacation turned out to be a bit of an experiment to see how practical With the Locals could actually be. And it’s hard to say without sounding like I’m just…whatever, it was fucking awesome! Sitting by the pool, I pulled everything up on the Instagram account – which is now also easily accessible on the website, with the slice of heaven that is Google Maps. We visited quite a few of Caroline Sleeper’s suggestions – all really fun and delicious.
I was recently in Boston for work, and we had dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar. Boston local Katie, found at @domestikateblog, said, “When people ask me where to eat in Boston, I always say if you only visit one restaurant, go to @icobar. My all-time favorite meal in Boston is the Island Creek lobster roe pasta (my mouth waters even typing it!). The space is beautifully designed, the service is impeccable, and you’ll eat some of the tastiest seafood that New England has to offer… make sure you order the namesake oysters too!” Everything Katie said was so dead on, we had the best dinner. I heard someone actually say, “I would make the four hour trip back here just for this pasta.”
On our last day, pretty exhausted and tired of hotel food, we had breakfast at Tatte Bakery & Café, suggested by Steven, found at @stevenfingar. Again, the atmosphere and food were lovely – it totally reenergized everyone for the long drive home.
- What do you imagine the future of With the Locals to be?
I’ve got some plans up my sleeve. Some big, some small, all in due time. Generally speaking though, incorporating more partnerships, expanding the website, more features, more personalities. If I have any say, With the Locals is on the slow and steady path, I’m just not interested in putting something out unless it feels authentic to the brand – fun, practical, and honest.
- When you’re not working on With the Locals, what do you do?
Sleep. And if not that… dancing at the Bell House or Tender Trap, venturing around the city in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and beating anyone and everyone on Mario Kart and Tetris – I’m what they refer to as a “double threat.”
I also do freelance photography and work with this great company Rye Workshop. It’s creatively challenging and wildly diverse work, it’s always a blast. Everyone is uniquely creative, working their absolute hardest, we’re incredibly proceptive to each other ideas – it’s a solid team mentality.
- Is there a city you’ve seen photos of but have yet to visit? If yes, which city? What inspires you about this place?
There are just so many places I want visit. I’m honestly happy to go just about anywhere, especially if I haven’t been before.
- Do you ever have slow days (days where not many people use #outwithlocals)? How do you cope with the highs and lows?
I check the hashtag to see what others are posting – get in the conversation, ‘like’ photos. I’ve never looked to see if it’s a “slow day,” I wouldn’t know what that would be by any standard, really.
While there is lots of lovely content posted through With the Locals, I also believe it to be just as practical. So say someone has no interest in ever visiting New York, they may not be as inclined to engage during that week – which is fine and makes a lot of sense. We’re not trying to be everything to everyone, all the time.
- What’s one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?
Be kind, be open-minded, listen when people talk. Oh, and ask people how their day is going.
- What piece of advice would you share with other social media brands and gurus?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.