Instagram photo hunters flock to sunflower fields

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Stacey on a swing made of sunflowersImage source, @wales_on_my_doorstep / Kimberley Lane
Image caption,
Fields of bright yellow sunflowers are springing up across the UK and proving irresistible to social media users

Instagram-worthy fields of blooming sunflowers are proving a big hit for farmers, thanks to visitors sharing their beautifully curated images on social media.

Content creator Stacey recently shared a photo of herself sitting on a swing in a field full of sunflowers - it quickly attracted more than 1,000 likes and scores of admiring comments.

"Whenever I post anything with sunflowers it always has huge interactions," said Stacey.

The 36-year-old from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, said sunflowers made the perfect backdrop for a social media image.

"There's that contrast of the yellow flower and the blue of the sky which is so eye-catching," she said.

"You can't look at a picture of sunflowers and not feel happy and it makes you feel joyful just walking around them."

Stacey said she was thrilled if her social media posts encouraged others to visit.

"Getting out in nature is so good for our wellbeing and it's a good way of increasing tourism... and then obviously they're good for bees and insects," she said.

Image source, Rhossili Sunflowers
Image caption,
Dog owners are encouraged to take photos of their pets under an archway of sunflowers

Stacey's photos were taken at Rhossili Sunflowers on south Wales' Gower peninsular, one of the many sunflower visitor attractions that have sprung up across the UK.

It is run by fifth generation farmer Rob Morgan, who set up the attraction four years ago in a bid to "diversify to survive".

He said it had been non-stop since opening their doors to the public on 10 July.

"People love the whole experience from leaving their car," he said.

"The walk out to Rhossili Bay, then the multitude of different flowers and wildlife, the bees, birds, butterflies, the porpoises in the bay, seals, sea birds, choughs."

Image source, Rhossili Sunflowers
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Visitors can't resist taking a selfie at Rhossili Sunflowers

He said the positive influence social media had had on his business was "huge" as it "motivates people to get out".

"Some of the photos are unbelievable... people love posing for their pictures with their loved ones, dogs and children."

He admitted there had been occasions where the beautifully curated images had not reflected the reality of the visit.

"I've had couples here who have argued, had a terrible time, and then all you see is this lovely picture on Instagram," he laughed.

Image source, Portia Jones
Image caption,
Portia Jones writes for many titles, including The Times, National Geographic and Lonely Planet

Portia Jones, a travel journalist and host of Travel Goals Podcast, said the success was down to farmers like Rob "understanding the social media appeal and then leaning into it".

"They're creating backdrops, plots, letting people pick their own flowers - it's brilliant from their perspective isn't it because the customers are doing the advertising for you," she said.

"There are even guides online now about how to take the best sunflower pictures - what time of day, what you should wear."

With sunflowers currently in full bloom, the flower is having its moment in the sun on social media too.

"People want to jump onto whatever's popular and sunflowers at the moment are in their peak period," said Portia.

Image source, TBC
Image caption,
Portia has visited many flower attractions, including this tulip field in the Netherlands

But what drives so many of us to want to share our days out on social media?

"On a much deeper level I think we're all moving towards 'brand me'," she said.

"Once upon a time social media was for seeing what your friends are up to and now it's for telling people what you're up to.

"It's creating this image of a digital self. I'm just as guilty, I post loads of pictures!"