5 Reasons to Ditch the DSLR

by Robyn Porteen
( October 4th, 2015 )

Man with Big Camera
The camera industry is rapidly changing and many people are ditching their big heavy DSLR cameras.

Owning a camera bag company means that I have to keep up with the latest trends in photography and I recently learned some interesting things.


• 2010 was the year that more cameras sold than any other year in the history of mankind. Camera sales have declined in the last five years and sales are now even with what they were back in 1998.

• More people are using phones and tablets for travel photography.  The quality of the imbedded cameras are more than needed for online portfolios. Online is where most people are using their photos.

• Big camera bodies and lenses will mainly be used by professional photographers and regular consumers will most likely be using phones and tablets.


Five reasons to ditch the DSLRs:

Heavy Bag

  1. Weight: No one likes to haul around a big heavy camera all the time. There can be many great photo opportunities missed because you left your camera home. Plus the aching neck and shoulder syndrome from carrying a camera around all day.

  2. Size: using a Smart device such as your phone or tablet eliminates the need for an extra bag. You can easily keep your device in a purse or smaller bag that you would use to carry light essentials for the day.

  3. Ease of loading your photos online: With a camera, especially if you are not tech savvy, you need to find the time to load all of your images onto your computer and size them appropriately for the web.  I still have 100’s of photos in this status from trips taken over the last few years that I haven’t had time to get to. You can choose and upload photos immediately from your phone to Facebook, Instagram and other online medias.

  4. Airport Time: Most people do not like to stow their expensive camera gear into checked luggage, which leaves you no other choice but to carry it on. If you like to travel light, you can minimize your time through airport security. They love stopping people with a heavy arsenal of camera gear and lenses.

  5. Never missing the shot: More than likely, you will always have your phone on you, you will have quick access to its camera. Many recent, great photos have been taken with phones. You will have more of an opportunity to capture the moment!

Phone Photo




Man with Big Camera – copyright: Luis Louro
Cameras – copyright: Ana Maria Tudor
Heavy Bag – copyright: Andrei Zaripov
Phones – copyright: Teerawut Masawat 

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How to Take a Vacation in Your Own City Pt. 2

by Robyn Porteen
( September 14th, 2015 )

How to take a vacation in your own city
Here are my reviews of some of the best spots in Grand Rapids if you are staying the weekend.

Charlie’s Crab

Charlies CrabWith waterfront views of the Grand River and a menu full of fresh seafood, you cannot beat the fine dining at Charlie’s Crab!


Grand Central Market and Deli

This little market was a lifesaver for bottled water and groceries while staying downtown. They have a full service deli in the back and a great take out selection of wine and beer on their Menu.

Grand Rapids Public Museum Planetarium

The Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum is a must see if you love exploring the skies. It is name after a Grand Rapids born astronaut who lost his life in the 1967 Apollo 1 Fire. The museum holds the story of the early days of Grand Rapids and showcases a stellar light show with Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd in the Planetarium.

GR Public Museum

Madcap Coffee

Madcap Coffee

This is a great place to get that morning wake up brew! Some of the best fresh coffee in the city! Start your day with Madcap Coffee.








Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is the world’s first LEED® Gold certified art museum. It hosted a varied rotation of visiting exhibits and houses a fine collect of art.












SpeakEZ Lounge


The SpeakEZ Lounge is a great place to catch a game and a brunch to die for! With menu items such as the Blackberry Boursin Monte Cristo (shown) and the O’Bryan’s Brekkie, I could eat brunch here every day!



Founders Brewing Co.

Ranked one of the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com in the last five years, the folks at Founders Brewing have figured out how to make great beer! You can always catch a great bite to eat and some of the best bands around at Founders.

Pulled Pork

There is plenty to do in Downtown GR. Retail shops, restaurants, pubs and festivals are all with walking distance when you book a room downtown.


You should think about taking that vacation in your own city, you just might fnd some place you didn’t know about and really get a sense of your city!

Festivals worth planning around:

Festival of the Arts

Art Prize


All Photography copyright Robyn Porteen

Disclaimer: Some of this experience was provided free of charge for review purposes by ExperienceGR.com, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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How to Take a Vacation in Your Own City Pt. 1

by Robyn Porteen
( August 29th, 2015 )

Grand RapidsHow to Take a Vacation in Your Own City – Part 1

How the whole idea came to be and how to plan a vacation close to home.

Some of us live in a city, some in the countryside, some on the waterfronts etc… Most of the time we all have our routines which usually include our drives to work, our quick nights out to dinner and running errands around the areas we live.

When we think of vacations, we think of exotic places, or locations that are almost opposite of where we live. City dwellers might want palm trees and beaches for thier excursion, while beach people might want to see the open West or visit a busy city for the culture and art. But have you ever stopped to look at the area you live through the eyes of a tourist? There might be many things right under your nose that you are not even aware of.


Sometimes it is just plain hard to take enough time off to travel very far and spend the time need to really “feel” an area. It might also be difficult to save the money needed for airfare, rental cars and travel agencies that can be required for long  trips.

I remember moving the Gulf Coast a few years ago and was amazed at being able to see the ocean on a daily basis just driving down the road to work. Coming from an inland state, that view was appreciated every day for the year and a half I lived there. I realized that most of the people who lived there never really noticed the water any more. So with those memories and a having a view of saving money, I decided to look at my own city through the eyes of a tourist.


Even though I knew my area well, I reached out to my local Visitors Bureau for recommendations on dining, events, and activities that would give me the experience of my city. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and ExperienceGR.com is my go to for all things Grand Rapids. It just takes a little Google work to find your local Visitor’s bureau, and if you live in the countryside or  rural area, you might have to visit a library or a Town Hall to get your local info.

Grand Rapids Skyline

If you live in a city, book yourself into that cool little hotel or try airbnb to find a place to stay. If you are in a rural setting, it might be harder to find lodging, but maybe you can offer to housesit or pet sit for a family needing a vacation. House swapping would be a cool adventure if you have a friend that needs a change of scenery too!


For Grand Rapids, MI, I chose The City Flats Hotel right downtown and decided to park my car and not allow myself to be on wheels for three days. I wanted to explore my city on foot actually live there for a long weekend. I had seen this cool looking boutique hotel just in passing, many times and it was centrally located to many restaurants and museums. It is only 2 miles from my home in the suburbs so I had to do a little pretending that I did not have access to home in case I forgot an item.

City Flats Room

I began planning my excursions, meals and just some good old relaxing time wandering around my city. I noticed many details I had missed when I just buzzed in and out for dinners and events in my regular life.

The architectural details on the older buildings really made me think of the history of my city. There was a tall indian sculpture on the corner of a building that I had never noticed before.

Indian Sculpture

If you do it right and stay committed to the area, it is the same as if you are thousands of miles away. The benefits are:

1. You already should know your way around and have an idea of the good and bad areas of your city.

2. It can be much more inexpensive than adding airfare and rental cars to a trip further away.

3. You will grow a better appreciation and gain knowledge for your own area.

4. Any new acquaintances can actually turn out to be close friends since you live in the area.


Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will share my experiences and reviews of the places I visited and see how this was a wonderful way to connect with local businesses and people!


All Photography Copyright and by Robyn Porteen



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