Travel is infectious on Instagram—just search for #travel and your feed will overflow with more than 250 million photos from photographers (both amateur and professional) around the world. But in the spectacular state of Texas, sometimes it pays to follow a pro—someone with that innate ability to capture your wanderlust with a single, breathtaking photo. With more than 500 million daily users on Instagram, these 25 Texans stand out above the rest with their masterful eye on the Lone Star State. Go ahead, click follow—then post your own #TrueTexas snapshots so we can follow along on your Texas travels.

Matt Smith

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Smith’s family farm in Weimar; The Milky Way stretching across the sky in Big Bend National Park (photos by Matt Smith)

@hyper.n0va // 13.1k followers

By day, Smith works in the oil and gas industry, which puts him on the road most of the year—predominantly in South Texas. But come night, he sets up his camera and points his lens toward the starry sky. “Ever since I was a little kid, I had a fondness for astronomy,” he says. “Eventually I found my way to landscape astrophotography, and just evolved from there. Being out in nature—usually alone, with just a tripod, camera, and beauty—is where I find some of the best relaxation.”

Pierce Ingram

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Jacob’s Well; South Rim of Chisos Mountains (photos by Pierce Ingram)

@pingzer // 4.1k followers
Based in Austin, Ingram spends his weekends traveling to every corner of Texas. “I try to photograph the wild places that seem untouched by time, that are difficult to get to, and are quintessential Texas,” he says. And quintessential it is—blankets of wildflowers in the spring, hidden swimming holes in the summer, camping and hiking in the fall, and backpacking the Chisos and Guadalupe Mountains during Texas’ mild winters out west.

Veronica Ruiz

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El Capitan, Guadalupe Mountains National Park (photo by Veronica Ruiz)

@v.eronica.r // 2.7k followers
Mother Nature tends to be the main subject matter in most of Ruiz’s photography, and unlike other photographers based in cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin, the diversity of landscape opportunities is abundant in her hometown of El Paso. “In its diversity, El Paso prides itself in being El Paso, the city, first and foremost. It gives the feeling as if it is a little state of its own. It offers amazing eats, drinks, unique culture, and an array of hiking trails throughout both the Franklin Mountains State Park and Hueco Tanks State Park.”

Aaron Bates

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Salt Basin Dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park (photo by Aaron Bates)

@aaronbates // 6.1k followers
Bates, an Austin-based adventure and lifestyle photographer, says he uses Instagram to share the natural beauty of Texas—especially the parts most people don’t know exist. “Connecting with nature and the wild spaces of Texas affects me in a profound way, and my images are a celebration of that,” he says. “It’s amazing what you can discover if you venture away from your car!”

Christopher Zebo

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Sotol Vista Overlook in Big Bend; State Park Road 100 on South Padre Island (photos by Chris Zebo)

@christopherzebo // 1.2k followers
After completing graduate school in Boston, Zebo sold all his belongings and set out on a 17,000-mile road trip to explore the continental U.S. for four months. He ran out of gas in Texas—College Station, to be exact. “Texas was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, by accident,” he says. “The thing about Texas I just can’t seem to explain to someone who’s never been here is the sheer size of the state and the variety of landscapes and people that make it so unique. From beaches to mountains to deserts and grasslands, from the smoldering hot Hill Country in late summer to snow-capped pine forests in the winter—it’s all here, under one roof.”

E. Dan Klepper

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"100 Moons" (photo by E. Dan Klepper)

@edanklepper // 138 followers
A native Texan, Klepper has found a home in Marathon—only 50 miles north of Big Bend National Park—where he also operates his gallery and studio. “I’m always up for photographing natural phenomena rainstorms, lightning, dust devils wherever I am in Texas. But I’m lucky. The Big Bend country is just out my back door, giving me an opportunity to photograph the natural world every day,” he says.

Erich Ross Schlegel

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A breaking wave at Matagorda Beach (photo by Erich Ross Schlegel)

@erichrossschlegel // 1.1k followers
A former staff photographer for The Dallas Morning News, Schlegel spends his days as a freelance photographer for National Geographic, USA Today, Getty Images, The Nature Conservancy, and—of course—Texas Highways magazine. “My first camera was a Nikonos underwater camera,” he says. “I would swim out in the surf on South Padre Island and take pictures of my friends surfing.” While he typically works in Texas, today you can find him at the Winter Olympics in South Korea—his 13th Olympics assignment—covering mountain sports.

Charles Smith

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on the Lampasas River at Chalk Ridge Falls Park (photo by Charles Smith)

@charles_smith_photography // 2.1k followers
A fourth-generation Texan, Smith enjoys bringing out the beauty of places that most people over-look, such as small, local parks and natural areas. “I love all of the photographs of sweeping vistas, rocky coasts, and snow-capped mountains that I see on Instagram,” he says, “but I feel that the beautiful, lesser-known places in small-town Texas have stories that deserve to be told as well. 

Anna Mallam

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Butterfly Bridge in Austin; the railroad through Marfa (photos by Anna Mallam / Slow Fuse Photography)

@annamallam // 4.6k followers
Originally from England, Mallam moved to Austin in 2010—and ever since, the city’s every-changing skyline has provided ample opportunity for this landscape and urban photographer to find new subject matter to shoot. But as most city-dwellers soon discover, the siren song of the West Texas desert is irresistible. “Recently I took my first road trip out to West Texas, and I’ve fallen in love with the desert,” she says. “It’s definitely now one of my favorite landscapes to shoot, and I’m dreaming of living out there one day.”

Andrew Slaton

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A snow-capped Big Bend National Park (photo by Andrew Slaton)

@andrewrslaton // 9.2k followers
Slaton and his wife, both Dallas natives, currently live on the road in a travel trailer with their two dogs and cat. While he’s primarily a landscape and wildlife photographer, Slaton says shooting mountains is his passion. “Because of this, my wife and I travel full time, chasing light and new landscapes to experience and capture. We now spend the majority of our time outside of Texas,” he says. “But distance makes the heart grow fonder, so we soak up every moment when we’re back. Texas has a way of getting in your blood.”

Kenny Braun

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Mill Pond in Caddo Lake State Park; Longhorn drover at the Fort Worth Stockyards (photos by Kenny Braun)

@kennybraun // 950 followers
An editorial, commercial, and fine-art photographer, Braun’s Instagram is filled with the landscapes and environmental portraits he shoots—many of which while on assignment for Texas Highways. Born in Houston and currently based in Austin, Braun’s new Texas landscape photography book, As Far as You Can See, will be published by UT Press this spring.

Jerod Foster

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Sunset over the Davis Mountains (photo by Jerod Foster)

@jerodfoster // 2.4k followers
A photography professor at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Foster’s first photo published in a major magazine was for Texas Highways—of legendary State Photographer Wyman Meinzer reaching out to pet a Mexican Ground Squirrel. “From there my career as a photographer started,” he says. “I’m fortunate to get to teach what I love doing professionally on a daily basis to future generations of photographers in Texas.” His passion is photographing the Great Plains that surround him. “It’s fortunate I live at the hub of the southern edge of this massive region of North America. One of the greatest things about Texas is, truly, its size. Its ecoregions are wide-ranging, and that makes for a visual paradise for a photographer.”

Nick Simonite

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an aerial view of Big Bend, captured from the door of a Cessna Sky Wagon during sunrise; traditional adelita attire in el Charreada (photos by Nick Simonite)

@nicksimonite // 4.1k followers
An established commercial photographer and director, Simonite’s Instagram feed is filled with raw portraits of Texans, aerial landscapes, and environmental shots. “I grew up hiking and camping and have always been drawn to the small towns, mountains, and desert in West Texas,” he says. “This photograph is one in a series of abstract aerial landscapes taken in West Texas and captured from the door of a Cessna Sky Wagon during sunrise.”

Jared Tennant 

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@jaredten // 4.1k followers
Tennant didn’t buy his first camera until he was 35—proof that “you can teach old dogs new tricks.” Based in Austin, today he spends about six months of the year on the road traveling for various photo, video, and drone shoots around the world. “I like to show people a view they see every day driving to work, but never had the opportunity to stop and take in all the beauty,” he says. “I think it gives people a sense of community when they share my photos, and that makes me feel proud.”

Theresa DiMenno

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Galveston State Park; a full moon over a field of Indian Paintbrushes in Whitehall (photos by Theresa DiMenno)

@tdimenno // 1.1k followers
As a child, DiMenno stargazed from the rear dash of her dad’s Chrysler, then chased sunsets out toward the Katy Prairie as soon as she got her first car. “In my earliest memories, I loved the beauty, drama, details, and simplicity of nature, which are at the heart of my passion and chosen career path of photography,” she says. Of all the distant places she travels, springtime in Texas remains her favorite. “I love the gentle rolling landscape of the Texas Hill Country, hiking the backroads, surrounded by fields of Texas wildflowers,” she explains. “On any day, I will head out my back door to photograph a migrating monarch, a raindrop on the petal of an iris, or a honey bee nectaring on a zinnia, as I immerse myself in the spirit of the wild, natural world.”

Rob Doyle

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Santa Elena Canyon (photo by Rob Doyle)

@pluto911 // 7.1k followers
In his youth, Doyle and his family crisscrossed every corner of Texas on vacations, which instilled a lifelong love for road trips and exploration. “I love photographing the landscapes of Texas because of the stories they tell. There is so much history here—from ancient volcanoes that erupted millions of years ago, to beaches that saw the footprints of Spanish explorers, to ruins of ranches and mining camps from the frontier days,” he says. “I particularly love West Texas, and go out to Big Bend or the Guadalupe Mountains every chance I get.”

Wesley Boswell

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(photo by Wesley Boswell)

@thewestexwindow // 2.1k followers
The born-and-raised Texan recently bought his childhood home in Fort Davis—the perfect home base for his day job in the oil fields of West Texas, and his passion projects as a landscape photographer. “I decided to give photography a try, mainly because of the great sunrises and sunsets the desert provides on a daily basis,” he says. “My favorite things to take pictures of usually involve mountains and/or crazy weather. Growing up during a drought has also given me a great appreciation for storms of all kinds. The desert is my home and the desert mountains are my love.”

Clark Crenshaw

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"Field of Dreams" — bluebonnets in Ennis (photo by Clark Crenshaw)

@clarkcrenshaw // 507 followers
65 years young, the Garland-based photographer took up the trade in high school—though it took a few decades before he began to take it seriously. “My wife and I were hiking and backpacking, and I started to want much better pictures from our adventures,” he says. “So I joined the Dallas Camera Club and spent 6 or 7 years honing my photography skills.” One of his first published photos was the August 2000 cover for Texas Highways, he says, and ever since, photography has served as his sole source of income.

Andrew Fisher

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Longhorns rest in the shade at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site (photo by Andrew Fisher)

@andrewfisher7 // 1.4k followers
Fisher lives in San Antonio and will be going active duty as an officer in the Air Force in September. But his camera is how he plans to stay connected to his home. “Getting out and exploring this massive state and living life on the road is my way of making memories. I have a minivan that I will live in if need be,” he says. “I’m passionate about taking photos that inspire people to get outdoors and break that everyday work routine.”

Dylan Lowery

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Santa Fe rail car between Lubbock and Levelland; wind turbines outside of Garden City (photos by Dylan Lowery)

@tengofotos // 1.4k followers
Whether it’s croplands or his native Texas habitat in Lubbock, Lowery admits he most enjoys shooting in places where there are minimal humans around. “Since I live in the south plains, most of my images try to capture scenes that do a good job of showing off what’s unique about this flat and windy landscape,” he says. “However, I love to travel and try to get off of the Llano Estacado as often as possible. I don’t mind driving 5 or 6 hours just to see Texas’ other geographical features and camp somewhere isolated.”

Chris Sherman

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A bat’s-eye view of Austin (photo by Christopher Sherman)

@cvsherman // 6.5k followers
Sherman is probably best known for his drone photography—he also runs the popular @overaustin Instagram account—but he also has an innate ability to capture landscapes and night skies in a way many other photographers don’t think about. “My goal is to bring my audience a new and different perspective on what they may already think they know,” he says. “The drone has helped me do that, but it also takes an eye for original composition and being in the right place at the right time.”

Rita Frey

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a late October View of the Rio Grande from along FM 170; the Milky Way above West Texas (photos by Rita Frey)

@ritamfrey // 2.9k followers
One look at Frey’s Instagram feed and you’re transported into her life in West Texas—nature, wildlife, and those big Texas skies. “I believe that images have the innate power to captivate, inspire, and influence,” she says, “and to me, that is especially important when it comes to nature and conservation. When I was a child, images were a major driving force when it came to learning more about the natural world and the outdoors. My ultimate goal is to create images that do the same, even on some small level, for someone else.”

Zak Zeinert

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Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park (photo by Zak Zeinert)

@zakzeinert // 23.3k followers
“Sometimes shots will take days or even weeks of planning, and other times you can be in the right place at the right time and walk away with an incredible shot almost on accident,” Zeinert says. But with 23,000 Instagram followers and counting, the behind-the-scenes work seems to be paying off. “Texas is great because of its scale and the diversity of its landscape,” he adds. “From the pines and swamps in the east, to the awe-inspiring landscape of Big Bend, to the rolling hills of central Texas, this state has an abundance of photographic opportunities. It’s just a matter of seeking them out.”

Dawn Richardson

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@dawnrichardson // 716 followers
Soon after she arrived in Texas in 1977, the Fort Worth photographer has been using her camera to capture moments, suspend time, and tell stories about the Lone Star State. “Combining my photos and words is my attempt to communicate and connect with the world around me,” she says. Like many Texas travel photographers, she has a fondness for far West Texas: “There is beauty of a different kind beyond what one sees at first glance. The landscapes with sunsets, mountains, deserts, and storms—all varied and magnificent containing moments of tranquility, harshness, unrest, won-der, and dreams—inspire me beyond description.”

Linda Nickell

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Caddo Lake (photo by Linda Nickell)

@coznlinda // 1.7k followers
Nickell grew up in Cotulla—“a tiny dot between San Antonio and Laredo”—but for the past 30 years has called Austin home. “One of the things I love most about Texas is that it has so much to share…the dark skies of the west Texas plains, the bright lights of its cities, world-famous monuments, little-known state parks, coastal sanctuaries, delicate wildlife, and those hidden gems only the locals know,” she says. “I’m hard-pressed to name one specific location that I like to photograph, but my favorite time of year is spring when the wildflowers bloom and blanket our backroads and highways with color.”

From the March 2018 issue

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