ALBANY — Albany is synonymous with beautiful architecture. Our micro-sized New York City is jam-packed with beautiful buildings and structures, not to mention the lush grounds that many groundskeepers keep in peak shape year round.
Even with the amount of traffic that flows through downtown on a daily basis, the city remains one of the most walkable parts of the Capital District. Its easy access and many pit stops allows admirers and workers to take in the views; one Facebook group of admirers is using the power of the photo to convey the beauty of our mini metropolis.
Looking Good, Albany! boasts over 9,600 members. The group, which formed in 2015, was conceived when founder Taury Smith was running in Washington Park.
“I would take pictures of anything I found beautiful while I was on my runs,” Smith said. “One day, I thought how cool it would be to have a group where people could post the pictures they take around the city.”
Smith used to live in Center Square, where many of the group’s pictures revolve. When he first had a friend help him create the group, 25 people were invited and by the end of the day, they were 100 people strong.
One of the beautiful things about Looking Good, Albany! is the emphasis on making sure everyone feels comfortable posting. Smith and his moderators, who include Teresa Sarles, Barb Cole Miller and Nessa Slater, host a weekly competition where the photo that gets the most likes from that week will be the group’s header photo. In most cases, the photos that win are by amateurs who snap a quick photo from their smartphones; while Smith said he appreciates the work of professional photographers, he wants to make sure the group doesn’t become overridden with advertisements and promotions.
“We don’t allow watermarks on the photos because it can come across as advertising, and that’s not the point of our group,” Smith said. “We love having as many people as possible post, but we’ve found when the group is full of professionals, a lot of the members don’t feel their photos are good enough to put up.”
This policy goes as far as what pages can be posted from; all members must post their photos from their personal pages. No posting from a business page is allowed. Again, Smith said the decision comes back to advertising. Allowing professionals to post from a professional standpoint also made the group cluttered with technical talk about cameras, lenses and technology that most people don’t have any use for.
“Every decision we make, we throw it to the members to decide,” Smith said, “and we found 90 percent of our members did not want the watermarks or the advertising.”
While only members can post, anyone can search Looking Good, Albany! and browse the photos. Smith said he and his three moderators screen every single person that requests to join the group to make sure they have some affiliation to Albany.
As the group continues to expand, with some photos tracking in thousands of engagements, Smith said the longevity of the group has become clearer than ever.
“This group has allowed me to see parts of Albany I had never seen,” Smith concluded. “Because we have such a positive, welcoming culture about us and we are almost universally praised, it really allows everyone to come in and show their own slice of our city.”
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