I never thought I’d be celebrating the one year anniversary of a blog, but this blog is special…to me. Florida Illustrated turns 1 today, and as I look back upon the past year, I am grateful for many things. Mostly, I am grateful for the role that photography has taken in my life since I started Florida Illustrated. No matter how bad things are going in my life, I can always look at the world and find something beautiful to photograph. And in my search for beauty, I have found joy and light.
In the past year, I have spent more time exploring Florida with friends and family than I can ever remember doing. And despite the annoying sound of my shutter firing constantly, my family and friends have continued to actively participate in my beloved Florida Illustrated project. They have recommended places for me to go and take photos, they have driven me all over the state, they have talked my blog up to others, they have carried my bags and beach chairs, and they have even treated me to many of the wonderful meals and weekend trips you see me writing about here.
I especially want to thank my mother, Debbie Ring, for all her excellent recommendations of places to visit in the Tampa Bay area. Her 30 years experience living in the Tampa Bay area has been invaluable to me and to the Florida Illustrated project. We have been on several Florida Illustrated excursions together, and many times my father, Jeff Ring, came along and foot the bill. Thanks Dad.
To my dear friend Samiyyah Bailey: Thank you so much for joining me on some of my favorite Florida vacations. I have loved every minute we’ve spent together in St. Augustine, Flagler Beach, Amelia Island, Orlando, Clermont, Palm Harbor, Clearwater and Dunedin. You have never gotten on my case for taking too many photos for Florida Illustrated when we are out together, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that. I really, really, really, really, really, really appreciate it.
To my good friends Anne Tsang and Aimee Marko: You may be far away geographically, but you are always close to my heart. I loved exploring Amelia Island with you both this year, and I got a lot of blog posts out of that trip.
To my readers: Some of you I know and some of you I have never met, but I want you to know that I appreciate you taking the time to read, like, and share my posts. On days when I spend 2-3 hours hunched over my computer writing a blog post, it is nice to know that someone out there is reading these posts and hopefully even liking them. It keeps me writing.
And to all the awesome people I’ve met along the way: If I’d known how many great people I was going to meet through Florida Illustrated, I would have started the blog sooner. I was worried no one would take this pet project of mine seriously, but I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.
Thank you Debra Radke (TECO art gallery curator) for encouraging me to continue with my photography, for inviting me to several excellent art shows around town, and for introducing me to other local artists. You made me feel like a member of the club.
Thank you April Little of Wine & Brew for inviting me to many of Wine & Brew’s fantastic art openings, for complimenting my writing, and for helping promote my blog.
Thank you Laura Gilstrap and everyone at Craft Street Kitchen Oldsmar for the warm welcome. Your enthusiastic promotion of Florida Illustrated’s initial Craft Street Kitchen review expanded my readership, and I am grateful for this. Thank you for inviting me back to photograph your desserts. It was my pleasure.
Finally, I would like to thank Menchie’s Boot Ranch for making the beautiful and delicious froyo cake pictured above.