United by the Sea: Handsome Citizens

United by the Sea: Handsome Citizens

Have you ever met a new friend on Instagram? While living in Bali, Tracee Annetts of the Australia-based blog, Handsome Citizens tells us about a serendipitous encounter via Instagram with a kindred spirit, photographer Carly Brown.

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The paradox of photos living in the Internet clouds is that they are simultaneously disposable and immortal. We rediscovered these images of Tracee Annetts aka Handsome Citizens photographed by Carly Brown two years ago in Bali, and the dreamy mood felt no less refreshing.

Fascinated by social media’s ability to connect people across oceans and time, we caught up with Tracee to talk more about how Instagram was a lifeline to the outside world while living in Bali, and sparked face-to-face encounters with new friends.

All images by Carly Brown Photography:@_carlybrownphotography_

SEEA : How did you and your husband Micka end up in Bali?

Tracee Annetts: Although we have both lived near the sea, mostly it has been in large Coastal cities.  

With 13 years working in the airline industry as flight attendants based in Brisbane, we had some truly amazing years winging our way around Australasia and taking luxuriously long overseas holidays. This included an annual hop to Bingin, Bali. It was here we yearned to spend a couple of months annually, which we have now for two decades. These holidays were the inspiration that led us to dreaming and plotting a tree/sea change.

Eventually Bingin felt like our home away from home, we had made friends that felt like family. We couldn’t resist the ease and the contentment our souls felt when we immersed there.

This quote : “We had such a wonderful time that we couldn’t bear to go back to our regular lives, and so we decided we just wouldn’t. And then all the greatness began.” perfectly describes our last holiday in Bingin which led to an opportunity to make our home there.

Our aim had long been to simplify our lives, so believing in our hearts that this was our calling, we jumped at the offer; left our careers, sold up everything and moved to the Island. An open-air, palapa roof bungalow, no walls or doors, no hot water, no car, perched on top of the Limestone Cliffs at Bingin. It was Heaven!

SEEA : We love your blog! What is Handsome Citizens?

Thank you so much! We are equally smitten with Seea and your photographers including Luki O’Keefe, who bring the Californian beach culture and global wanderings to our Insta feed.

Handsome Citizens is a blog about salty inspired stories and destinations. We are enamoured with the Ocean and beach culture throughout the decades. We have featured a number of the Seea-babes in our Interviews titled ‘Citizens of the Slide’.

We hope to provide a glimpse into the carefree existence of these noseriding sea gypsies clad in your vintage-inspired Seea suits, as well as other ‘Salty Characters’ sharing their stoke for the Ocean.

These are the stories we are drawn to, and inspire us to live simply beside the Sea, now in Byron Bay. It’s hard not to gravitate towards the Ocean’s pull and if you’ve been to Byron, you’ll know what I mean about the energy that keeps drawing you back.

See more Citizens of the Slide HERE.

And for a daily salty dose: @handsomecitizens

SEEA : What is the story behind how you met Carly Brown?

We had just started our blog Handsome Citizens early into our Bingin days and began our love affair with social media, particularly Instagram. At that time it was such an inspiring community of people connecting from all parts of the world, sharing their common ground.

Carly Brown was one of our favourite photographic creatives and we were in awe of her images. As it turned out we had mutual friends whom were coming to Bingin on holidays and Carly was with them! 

SEEA : What did it feel like to meet someone in person that you only knew through social media?

Surreal! You get a glimpse of people's lives through Instagram so when you meet, it feels like you know more than you should about a complete stranger! It can be kinda awkward, but with Carly it was very relaxed… In person, she’s as you’d imagine, except multiply it! Carly has an epic personality, generous heart, a vivacious cheeky spirit and sooo creatively talented.

Idyllic days were spent on Bingin Beach lazing in the June sun; cruising around the Bukit on motorbikes and eating at the beachfront Warungs. If you’re in Bingin on Thursday nights, you’ll find most of the Village - tourists and locals - flock to the Cashew Tree for their legendary fish bbq and live music. We had a big night with way too many Gin ‘n Tonics & Bintangs and plenty of funny memories!

Highlighting the power of Instagram, Carly’s images of me wearing a SEEA surf-suit at Bingin hash-tagged #SEEA #mySEEAlife bought our story to you in California!

All images by Carly Brown Photography: @_carlybrownphotography_ and www.carlybrownphotography.com


SEEA : What other friendships have you made on Instagram?

Many! The ‘salty community’ on Instagram can be such a small world.  One example was a random meeting in Bali with two photographers; Rafael (@rmbagus), from Brazil and Australian travel buddy Jye (@jyetylr).

Via the #Bali hashtag I had discovered Raf’s amazing photos and commented on a story he’d told. That same day we ended up meeting… Raf and Jye quite coincidentally visited the resort we were minding in Bingin; they’d come to ask permission to shoot the surf from the resort’s ultimate viewpoint.

Conversation from life in Bali and photography turned to Instagram, and upon swapping ‘handles’, we realised we’d already met in the Insta-world. We chatted for ages overlooking the Bingin surf break and became acquainted with each other’s stories; we all still follow each other on the 'gram now and am sure our paths will cross again someday!

SEEA : Now that you are back in Australia, how has social media allowed for you to build a life that you love?

Social Media began for us, like many, a joy of flicking through beautiful images of lust-worthy destinations; being inspired by Ocean/Surf photography and living vicariously through the galleries of gypsy wanderers. Instagram also became our referral for coffee and restaurant inspo in Bali — good coffee was hard to come by at that time on the Bukit, so once a week we’d venture by motorbike to Seminyak; we were always on the hunt for new spots to hit up! And then as time went on, we began to build ‘Insta’ friendships.

Social media eventually evolved from a visual stimulation to a creation of income for me, on our return to Australia. Our new reality was no jobs/income, no car, furniture or household items, or even a location that felt like home, so we decided to go where we’d always wanted to live; which was Byron Bay.

We set up in the Byron beachside campground and lived there for our first six weeks, while we settled in and looked for jobs and a new home. A friend of a friend who owns a couple of surf shops, checked out our Insta gallery, which led to a meeting and a request for me to run their social media platforms.

I now create social media for several businesses in both Byron Bay and Melbourne. A combination of Instagram, our website and word of mouth, has led to us meeting others requiring Social Media services.

We are looking at ways we can expand moving forward, however always conscious of maintaining a work/life balance. We have made so many friendships via the Insta community; found our place to call home and made connections throughout Australia and the world.

Our enjoyment of these 'three squares wide' of visual stimulation, has led to some life-changing moments!

See more Citizens of the Slide HERE.

And for a daily salty dose: @handsomecitizens

All images by Carly Brown Photography:@_carlybrownphotography_ and www.carlybrownphotography.com

Photo above courtesy of Handsome Citizens | Tracee afloat in Byron Bay wearing the Seea Hermosa Surf Suit.



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