After Greg Krehel sold his software business about 10 years ago, he began dabbling in hobbies he’d never had a chance to pursue before, such as learning foreign languages, music and woodworking. He also started collecting succulent cacti, and when those plants began to bloom, Krehel was amazed at their beauty.
“I knew cacti flowered, but these were shockingly colorful and plentiful,” he says. “A little research told me this cactus with standout flowers was an Echinopsis and that there were dozens of other hybrids with flowers even more amazing than the one I had stumbled on and acquired by accident.”
The fact that Echinopsis flowers bloom at night and last only a day before they shrivel up pushed Krehel to create still photographs of them and then to make time-lapse images. Several years and more than 102,000 Instagram followers later, Krehel has perfected the art of capturing the enchanting process of blooming Echinopsis.
“I had no real photographic experience prior to wanting to capture the fleeting beauty of these flowers,” he says, “so it became a great learning experience not only about cacti but about photography and photography-related software as well.”
WHO Greg Krehel, a retired software company owner who, for a hobby, creates time-lapse images of cactus flowers blooming.
WHY WE LIKE IT It’s best not to try to describe the amazing, vibrant and entrancing images of cactus flowers that Krehel posts, which make the plants seem to come alive. You have to see it to believe it.
SUPER SPECIALTY Krehel does one thing on Instagram and one thing only, and that’s what works for him. “I’m a one-trick pony,” he says. “Cactus flower blooming time-lapses. End of story. I know people like them, but not only do they take a good bit of work to create, there’s certainly a point when people say, “OK, that’s enough of that.” So for me, less is more. I try to post only things that are pretty, standout or a new flower. I don’t post just everything I shoot because I don’t think it would serve any purpose. I typically post only once a week or even once every two weeks during blooming season (which starts in April) and will keep posting until I run out of good time-lapses after blooming season has ended in September. Typically that means my account goes dormant from December to March.
SURPRISE HITS You might think that a time-lapse showing eight flowers blooming in sync would capture the most attention from followers, but Krehel says that’s not always the case. Often, the closeups of a single blossom take the cake. That’s Instagram for you. “My posts are all pretty similar, but there is a surprising difference in response. Some go through the roof, and others, not so much, both in terms of views, likes and comments, which unsurprisingly vary in tandem.”
WHY HE DOES IT “Using Instagram has been a spectacular way to expose a large number of people to my kooky hobby. It has let me make friends with people literally all over the world and to get a glimpse of their lives via their Instagram posts. It’s also brought me a good number of opportunities to partner with artists, musicians, etc.”
TIP TO TRY This one’s pretty simple, Krehel says. Engage with your followers. “I’ve found that taking the time to respond personally to people’s comments, versus just liking their comments, goes a long way to building rapport with followers. I [also] think ‘less is more’ really works well as a strategy, especially for a business-related account, unless the nature of the post is truly changing dramatically.”
SEE FOR YOURSELF @echinopsisfreak
By Jon Bell