When Germany-native Eva Schwartz moved to Baton Rouge to go to graduate school at LSU, she did not know she would also find a husband and a second home in Louisiana. Six years later and almost finished with her doctorate, Eva lives in the Garden District with her husband, her cat, and her dog and shares pictures of the neighborhood. We caught up with Eva about her Instagram account, Red Stick Garden District.
When did you start your Instagram account, and how have you seen it grow since its inception?
It actually hasn’t been too long. I posted my first photo in early April of this year and I currently have just about 1200 followers. It’s really exciting to be able to share the beauty of the Garden District with so many people and I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one who loves this neighborhood.
What made you decide to start an Instagram all about the Garden District in Baton Rouge?
Well, I live in the Garden District and every day I take walks with my little dog Rufus. Strolling through the neighborhood, I’d almost always come across something gorgeous that I felt I had to capture, so I used to just take photos for myself to enjoy. Then one day I was playing around on Instagram, realized that there really wasn’t enough representation of the Garden District of Baton Rouge, and I decided to take matters into my own hand and started an account myself. I think that Instagram is the perfect platform to show off all of the lovely goodness that can be found around here. This year has been particularly difficult for our city and my goal is to spread some positivity and share the beauty we can find right in front of our doorsteps.
What makes the Garden District special?
Even though the Garden District is a relatively small neighborhood, there is what seems to be an infinite amount of peculiar things to discover. You can walk down the same street many times only to look up one day and find a unique house you had never even noticed before. Especially walking through the backroads of the neighborhood, there is always a new and exciting corner that can be found. Apart from all the beautiful houses, I really adore the nature that encompasses this area. It’s like a little oasis right in the heart of Baton Rouge.
Are there any interesting stories behind your photos?
Most of my pictures are shot during my morning walks with Rufus. I usually take many different photos of a few new discoveries and choose the best one to post when I return back home. So I can frequently be found crouching over flowers and leaves, chasing bees and butterflies, or peeking into people’s backyards, but thankfully my expeditions have been relatively uneventful so far.
What’s your day job, and how do you balance it with a creative outlet like Instagram?
I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at LSU, which takes up most of my time and can be quite hectic. Posting photos on Instagram is something I can conveniently fit in my mornings or somewhere in my day, so it doesn’t take up too much time. But what I get out of it is all the more rewarding, because I get to experience the nature and community around me and share it with so many people.
I read on LSU’s website that you’re originally from Germany. How does Louisiana compare to Germany? Does the Garden District remind you of home at all?
Yes, I am originally from a relatively small town in Germany and I moved to Baton Rouge about six years ago. Generally, I would say that the people in Louisiana are incredibly friendly and welcoming, probably more so than the people in Germany would be right away. Apart from the heat and the humidity, something I have yet to get used to is the scarce usage of turn-signals in this state. My poor German heart just can’t handle it when people don’t follow the simplest of rules to keep everyone around them safe. The Garden District does indeed remind me of home. In Germany, no matter which city I lived in, I was able to reach most of my destinations by walking or using public transportation. Being able to step out of my door and walk places or ride in the Garden District Trolley makes me feel a lot closer to my homeland.
What’s the secret to the perfect Instagram?
That really depends on the purpose of the specific Instagram account, I think. Maybe the secret is that it shouldn’t be perfect. While there are some “rules” I like to follow, such as not over-editing my photos, posting regularly, and aiming for a homogeneous overall look of my profile, the most important thing to me is to have fun and to be genuine. What is so appealing about Instagram is its community aspect. Anyone can participate, which makes it so personal. And much like with every person I have ever met, the imperfections are what ultimately creates something unique and interesting.
See photos from Red Stick Garden District:
Photos from @redstickgardendistrict and Eva Schwartz.