Notting Hill Influencers Instagram

One at a Time Influencers Turn Notting Hill Into Instagram Backdrop

From iconic London neighbourhood to Insta-worthy backdrop: How Instagram Influencers have taken over Notting Hill.

Since the release of the famous romcom in 1999 featuring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, Notting Hill has been a popular destination for film fans and tourists. They have come to the area in search of the famous The Travel Book Co shop where Hugh and Julia fell in love, and the recognisable blue door.

But in recent years, a new kind of visitor has flocked to Notting Hill: the Instagram Influencer.

If you visit on any given day you will see them with their wheelie suitcases full of outfit changes rocking their perfect hair and makeup. They are EVERYWHERE, posing and pouting on the steps of houses, in the middle of the street, outside cafés and next to front yards. Each pose is snapped by a friend or, increasingly, a professional photographer. They will then surreptitiously pop into the local McDonald’s to change or, if they are truly committed, change in the middle of the street. Then rinse and repeat.

What does it mean for the future when the visual is the most highly valued attribute of any experience?

These are no longer just tourists exploring London, they are Influencers who have turned their large following into a business and for whom every photo is a serious endeavour.

Notting_Hill_IG_Influencers__

What does it mean for the future of Notting Hill as a travel destination if many of those who travel there are looking for a backdrop not an experience? What about the businesses offering good food, high quality customer service or value for money, but that don’t look quite right on a curated feed?

In this digital age, the places we choose to visit, eat and stay at increasingly need to be Instagrammable but what does it mean for the future when the visual is the most highly valued attribute of any experience?

Fashionable Notting Hill is one of London’s most iconic neighbourhoods. It has taken on many guises over its long history, from brickmaking in the 1800s through prosperity in the Victorian era, to slum housing and migration from the Caribbean in the mid-twentieth century. It has been home to artists and politicians; the working class and the prosperous.

Bloggers urge their followers to visit its “Insta-worthy backdrops” and websites rate it highly as ‘the place’ for your personal photoshoot.

It is the home of the famous Carnival, now the largest in Europe, which takes over the area for a weekend every summer. But the rest of the year, it is a largely gentrified area of Victorian townhouses and private gardens with just enough of a hint of it’s older, cooler past.

Notting Hill is mentioned again and again in articles all over the internet as “the most Instragrammable place in London.” Farmer Street is called “the most colourful street in London.” Bloggers urge their followers to visit its “Insta-worthy backdrops” and websites rate it highly as ‘the place’ for your personal photoshoot.

Notting_Hill_IG_Influencers___

I admit I have joined their ranks, when I was looking to take some portrait pictures for my own account @feminism_in_print. After seeing the area all over my Instagram feed like a rash, Notting Hill was an obvious choice of location.

As Influencer @imiellen noted “If you go to Farmer Street (a street in Notting Hill) on a sunny day, it’s packed with people snapping away.”

There are many beautiful places in London so why is Notting Hill recommended over and over again, not simply as a place to visit but as a place to use as a backdrop for photos? Why is it particularly popular with fashion Influencers looking for backgrounds to complement their personal style?

Influencer Romana Zimányiová (@Romy.zim) reports “I chose Notting Hill because I really love the architecture of the houses there and especially their pastel colours… I think houses there just look great as a background on the photos and they highlight whatever outfit you wear.”

This is a common theme in discussions with Influencers; the colours and Britishness of the houses is the ideal backdrop. Pretty, pastel and uniform, they don’t distract from the star of the picture: the subject and their outfit.

There have been wide reports from Influencers and photographers of negative reactions from home owners and local residents.

Many businesses in the area are clearly cashing in on the Insta-worthiness of the area. Many have created “Instagrammable” shop fronts and interiors that feature heavily on the feeds of Influencers and tourists alike.

Appearing over and over again on Instagram feeds can offer small businesses a level of brand awareness that even paid advertising cannot. User-generated images are like gold dust; acting as a testimonial, they endorse businesses’ reputation and provide content for them to re-share on their social media accounts. They introduce the businesses’ products to a large number of potential customers from a trusted and adored source (an Influencer).

Notting Hill Sign

But there is unhappiness from some at the area’s status as ‘the place to shoot’. There have been wide reports from Influencers and photographers of negative reactions from home owners and local residents.

There has been shouting, swearing and condescension from many that clearly dislike their home being used as a shoot location by so many people.

Notting Hill is a living place full of history, culture and people, not just a backdrop to your killer outfit

It is understandable that having your front step continuously sat on, your gate lent against, your flowers trampled and your road blocked is not what you brought your multimillion pound house for.

Many Notting Hill home owners have purchased these houses aware of the presence of tourists and the annual event that is the Carnival, but must have been caught off guard by the people who have suddenly sprung up on every corner posing like models every day of the week. One can imagine many have no idea what all these young people are up to.

While it is hard to feel sorry for anyone who is lucky enough to live in a house so beautifully pastel, people have a right to not have their private property trespassed on or everyday life disrupted for the sake of the perfect photo. Most Influencers are respectful of this but the tension remains.

Instagram Influencers and tourists alike cannot be blamed for appreciating the pastel houses and pretty streets of Notting Hill. However, it is worth taking a moment to remember Notting Hill is a living place full of history, culture and people, not just a backdrop to your killer outfit.

Emma Moseley is a London based activist and writer. Mostly found discussing feminism and city life on Instagram.
FacebookTwitterWhatsApp