Using Technology to Grow Your Business: 5 Strategies for Success

The world of technology is constantly changing. As a photographer, you can either adapt to this change or fall behind and risk stunting the growth of your business. The days of a riding a one-medium path to success are over. Today it’s about versatility, innovation, and finding creative ways to be better than your competitors.

Technology offers you the opportunity to be bold with your content strategy. Experiment with it, try new things and see how your audience responds. Here are 5 strategies to stay ahead of the curve:

#1 — Repurpose your content in unique ways

If you’re into social media, you’re aware of how analytics are tracked. But did you know that you can use analytics to repurpose your most successful content? Consider a “success story” post that uses common social media metrics such as likes, engagement, and follower growth. Sharing the inspiration behind your posts allows you to strategically repurpose content while providing an inside look at your creative process. Just be careful not to reveal your secrets!

#2 — Don’t be afraid to use new gadgets

Look around — new tech is everywhere. Using it in a brand-specific way shows that your business cares about being innovative.

As a photographer, you’re deeply attached to your favourite camera. At Flixel, we get it — but why not switch it up? Using different types of cameras can add some variety to your content. Take a look at some wearable camera options that are changing the way we take photos.

#3 — Know your platform, and become a master of it

Social media platforms are changing about as often as you change your socks. To stay current, your brand should use each platform’s various features. For example, Instagram recently released a “stories” feature similar to the already existing Snapchat version. Ensuring that your brand capitalizes on every available tool and feature will improve your likelihood of success.

#4 — Differentiate yourself with creativity

A highly saturated market guarantees that every new piece of technology will be quickly adopted by the masses. Do something that is uniquely you, and do it well to separate your business. For example, a unique hashtag campaign would be the most basic way to have a creative strategy on social media. Use it as you wish, but keep in mind that professional content can be silly and fun too.

#5 — Make use of the Cloud

By now you’ve heard all about it, but you may still not be utilizing it to the fullest extent. Cloud services make your content more accessible, secure and most importantly,  scalable. You’ll never have to worry about data infrastructure when you’re ready to scale up your business. The improved ease and accessibility will modernize the way you share.

Flixel has implemented FlixelCloud, a Cloud hosting service that lets you share your Cinemagraphs quickly and easily. It’s fully integrated with our other applications, which means that you can share and transfer your Cinemagraphs with ease!

These strategies will help to ensure that your content utilizes technology on the cutting edge, and enables your business to grow. Feel free to comment if you have any helpful tips or tricks that you’d like to share. Thanks for reading!

Snapchat IPO Is Big, But Are Its Implications Bigger?

Snapchat shook up the tech world on Friday when the public details of its gigantic IPO were finally released. The company – valued somewhere in the area of $25 billion – is set to be listed on the NYSE ticker as “SNAP”. It’s been thought of as an unusual move by the CEO of parent company Snap Evan Spiegel, who has been a notoriously private business owner for years. Though a huge risk for Spiegel, it appears that he feels confident considering that the structure of his salary closely resembles that of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

The IPO itself is a massive public filing, which is referred to as an “S-1” and details essentially every aspect of the business. The purpose of the IPO is to provide Snapchat with the opportunity to raise an additional $3 billion for future business purposes.

The details of the file provide not only a glimpse of the important numbers, but also of the company’s uniqueness. For instance, Snapchat openly uses the phrase “sexting” when describing the progression of the platform. For a process that involves a great deal of stipulation, including such a term is somewhat of a bold move. The company also added in some sparkly visuals that serve to make the document look and feel much like the platform itself.

Key figures of the report include a hefty 158 million daily users (now reportedly more than Twitter), and a revenue increase of well over $345 million. Considering that Snapchat is a free service, these numbers are certainly impressive.

The significance of the IPO is that it reinforces the presence of tech companies, proving them to be major players in public trading. The price of the Snapchat stock estimates to be very high based on the substantial valuation of $25 billion. For Snapchat, such a high stock price puts them well ahead of competitor social networks Facebook and Twitter.

Though the IPO is noteworthy and impressive in size, going public also reveals many of Snapchat’s potential risks moving forward.

Firstly, the longevity of the platform is a major risk as with most companies in the fast-paced, consumer-driven tech environment.

Profitability is also a hot-topic that was candidly revealed in the report. Spiegel and the Snapchat team have stated that the company may never be able to sustain or even reach profitability. This provides an obvious dilemma for investors counting on growth in the competitive social media market.

On that note, the ever-changing market share is a major point of contention for Snapchat. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are always battling to capture the biggest audiences in new, creative ways. Taking the company public and releasing the report is a clear indicator of Spiegel’s confidence in the platform, however he’s jumping into a volatile environment for investment.

Pro Athletes on Social Media: A Difficult Dichotomy

Being from Toronto, we’re well aware of the relationship between sports and social media. Recent campaigns have rallied around huge success from our beloved teams and gone viral. The Raptors “We The North” and Blue Jays “#ComeTogether” are the most notable. If you didn’t pay much attention to the world of sports beyond this city – you may not know that social media has been a point of controversy in pro sports. There have been a number of social media gaffs that have in some cases caused serious damage to an athlete’s reputation. It’s not all negative though, if used properly – social media can still be a great tool to better connect with your audience.

Read on to find out more about the ups and downs of social media in sports.

Social Media can be bad? Who knew…

The use of social media by pro athletes provides a difficult dichotomy. Social media gives us (the fans) a new level of access that was previously unheard of. We’re able to look beyond the performances & the interviews and see how these athletes live their lives. There’s a huge demand for this extra content – even if it’s as simple as how they spend a day off or an unexpected warm-up activity. As fans, we worship and celebrate our professional athletes. There’s ALWAYS going to be demand for this content, and the benefit for the athlete is obvious. Increased exposure and influence presents the opportunity for sponsorship, and a larger, more loyal following.

The positives are glaringly obvious from the perspective of the fan. For an athlete however, the potential issues are pretty alarming. The same access that provides fans with raw, unfiltered looks into their personal life also provides the athlete with a platform with damaging potential. Social media is 24/7, and if something controversial is posted – there’s sure to be people paying attention. Over the past few years, sports news has been riddled with cases of emotional or unfiltered comments from athletes that landed them in a great deal of trouble.

NBA draftee Larry Nance Jr. fell victim to this phenomenon shortly after he was drafted by the L.A Lakers in 2015. Nance had tweeted slanderous comments against Kobe Bryant years prior to the draft. He deleted the tweet, but by then it had been copied and screenshotted by many. Luckily, the oft-controversial NBA star accepted Nance’s apology before they ever saw the court together.

In another case, Evander Kane infamously tweeted out this picture at a time where the NHL and NHLPA (NHL Player’s Association) were in an intense legal battle that caused a half-season lockout. The PA were arguing for the fact that the players deserved more money. The picture shows Kane holding stacks of cash up to his ear as if it were a telephone. As a result, Kane was asked by the Winnipeg Jets (his team at the time) to refrain from using social media as often.

Both are strong examples, but show how easily a single tweet can translate very differently in a different context. This debate on social media use continues as there seems to be no easy solution.

The Upside

It’s not all dire and desolate for athletes on social media – some have found ways to share great content without inhibiting their personality or damaging their reputation. P.K Subban is a great example. He’s extremely active on social, most notably Twitter. He shares great content like this video which spreads a positive message and still provides the same “inside access” that the fans love. P.K. has also mastered networking with other athletes. In a recent visit to Toronto, he combined with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in a series of tweets and photos. The exchange created a large social media buzz and was featured in a number of news stories. The highlight for me has to be this Instagram video, featuring P.K. having a bit of fun in the Blue Jays clubhouse.

What the cases mentioned make clear is that there are very obvious do’s and do-not’s for pro athletes when it comes to social media. Regardless of this, we continue to see them making headlines for careless social media use. The important distinction is that social media is a great tool, but there are many cases when it should be used carefully and with an overarching sense of the context in which your content will and could be viewed.

Originally published on the Social Media Week Toronto website as contributed content for Social Media Week in Toronto 2016.

Why Being a Sports Fan is Different

It’s a Tuesday night. You’ve had a lazy, unproductive day at work and find yourself dodging responsibility until it comes time to clock out. The one thing that keeps you going: your team plays tonight. It’s been nearly three days since that huge win on Saturday night and you’re itching for the next big game. Flash forward, it’s eight minutes into the first period, and we’re already down three. You’ve waited three days for this and they came out flat. Now what? Do you sit through this pile-of-garbage game, or do you toss on a crappy movie to get your mind off of it? Either way – you feel cheated. The waiting, the hoping, and the excitement of the past few days all gone. This is the life of a fanatical sports fan, and it’s not one to be taken lightly.

Now, it’s Bachelor season. I get the hype, I really do. Tumultuous, slightly stressful relationships provided to us in a packaged, easy-to-consume manner so that we can simply sit back and enjoy the drama. What’s not to love? The difference here, though, is that you know what you’re getting every time you sit down to watch. There might be a few unexpected twists or turns (he always goes for the wrong girl, right?) but generally, you get what you wanted in the few hours you invest.

I don’t mean to say that sports fans are better, or even more passionate than fans of shows like The Bachelor. I’m simply trying to say that the investment we make is different. We place our faith in a group of women or men who typically have a 50/50 shot at delivering the result we want. This creates a pretty unstable setting for a fan who shares the same passion I do for my Toronto teams. A full season brings excitement, anticipation, and frustration all together. But what separates the two is the reward of success. The difference between winning and losing is so minute – success is extremely fragile – and it’s this knowledge that makes winning so rewarding. I know, I know, I’m a Toronto sports fan, therefore I know very faintly what this feels like – but I digress.

Probably the most pertinent question is, why do we do it? Why not invest our time and effort into a program that almost guarantees satisfaction? The answer is difficult to pinpoint. Though this passion causes many ups and downs for a fan, what’s clear is that it also reflects the beauty of being a crazy sports fanatic.

6 Canadian Festivals to Check Out in 2017

For festival-goers, winter can be a pretty tough season. For the next several months, we’ll have to live off nothing but faint memories of last summer’s big events. At this time, I’ll have to politely ask you to hang up your flower crown and/or bucket hat and grab yourself a tuque. There’s some good news, though. The festival off-season can be a great chance to think about new festivals to check out for next year. Questions to ask yourself: Should you hit up that festival you loved from last year or try something new? Can you afford to try something more expensive or should you go cheaper? Should your cousin Jimbo get the invite again after he puked all over the tent last year? And so forth.

There’s a proper way to go about making this decision. Things like cost, travel time, and accommodations should all be considered. Now, I realize that it’s only November… festival season is still a long ways away. As such, there are unfortunately no line-up details for 2017’s events. That’s okay though, because there’s lots more to think about for next year. Start by deciding what type of festival you’re looking for. Ready to rave? Get a little crazy and let off some steam at a festival made just for that! Alternatively, there are great options if you’d rather just chill and enjoy the music. Consider this post a guide to help you explore your options and get informed so that you’re ready to make the right decision.

Apologies to some of my readers, but there will be no mention of country festivals in this article.

#1: Osheaga

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Osheaga returns to Montreal, Quebec once again in 2017 – taking place the days of August 4th to 6th. If you’re looking for that big festival atmosphere in the heart of the city, this is likely the option for you. The festival has been a huge success since its inaugural year in 2006. Attracting some of the biggest names in music, it routinely reaches its capacity. Just take a look at the absolutely stacked 2016 Osheaga lineup. Or, if you’re one of those visual learners, the Osheaga 2014 recap video will give you an idea of what it’s all about.

The reason that I personally have avoided Osheaga is the cost. Last year, a three day pass for full-access to the festival cost $310, which is pretty reasonable. The issue for me was finding cheap accommodations in Montreal. Say you choose to stay in a hotel… Once you add on the ticket, food, and drinks, you’re looking at a pretty expensive weekend. Anyone have friends in Montreal they could introduce me to? 🤔

#2: Pemberton

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Hopefully you’ve caught your breath after seeing this stunning picture. In terms of views, that’s pretty tough to beat. Pemberton, or “Pemby” as it’s affectionately known, has yet to release its lineup for 2017, but it’s pretty obvious what the biggest attraction is. If you aren’t already aware, Pemberton is in British Columbia; about a two hour drive north of Vancouver. The drive seems well worth it for scenery like that.

Like Osheaga, it’s been successful at attracting some pretty remarkable artists over past years. Take a look at last year’s lineup poster:

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If it’s any indication of next years lineup, Pemberton seems like a great festival choice for anyone looking to escape the city and check out the mountains.

#3: Bestival

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If you can’t scrounge together enough dough for a road trip out west, you may need a more manageable option. Bestival is a slightly smaller festival that happens right here in Toronto. It began in the UK and has been brought to Toronto with huge success. Last summer, the festival took place on June 11th and 12th at Woodbine Park. It’s easy to get to, doesn’t require a hotel or camping (assuming you live near the city) and is open to all ages. It’s pretty unique to be able to take the streetcar or bus to a festival that provides a pretty similar experience to the likes of Wayhome & Pemberton. Here’s last year’s lineup:

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There are certainly some great acts in there. Be sure to keep close watch on Bestival’s social media accounts for 2017 announcements. Also worth mentioning that it’s got a pretty damn good name.

#4: Mad Decent

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Mad Decent Bloc Party is a unique type of festival. It tours various venues across North America, holding events that provide a party-like atmosphere with a lineup full of electronic music. Like Bestival, Mad Decent is a smaller event that takes place for one night only. Last year, it was set up at the Fort York Garrison Common, which  is a small outdoor field right downtown Toronto. Whether you’re from the city or not, Mad Decent is an awesome way to do something different on a summer night. Why not get out and enjoy some great music in a unique space? Stay connected with all of the Mad Decent updates through their Twitter.

#5: RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

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Don’t be fooled by the name, Ottawa Bluesfest isn’t really a festival dedicated to a specific genre of music. Over time it’s grown to incorporate a variety of music acts. The 2016 Bluesfest lineup was full of just that, as it featured acts from basically every genre you could ask for.

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Bluesfest is easily the largest festival of those I’ve featured on this list. It takes place over 9-12 days and features a large number of acts. It’s estimated that the 2015 festival attracted more than 300,000 fans. Ticket options vary, so you don’t have to break the bank if you’re only interested in a specific night of shows. It’s likely this versatility that makes the festival so successful.

Year after year, Bluesfest manages to provide entertainment for all types of music fans in one place. This year’s event is scheduled to take place July 6th to the 16th. Be sure to check out the Bluesfest site to stay on top of lineup details.

#6: Wayhome

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I’ll be honest, I’m a little biased here. Wayhome is the festival I’ve chosen to go to for the past two years. This year, it drew a much bigger crowd, despite its weaker lineup. The header image for the article is one I took from atop the ferris wheel on-site this year. In mentioning it, I’d say that one of Wayhome’s strengths as a festival is the overall experience it provides. The grounds are huge, and there’s lots to do beyond attending the shows. There are various attractions, art displays, and four stages that all offer something slightly unique from the others. There’s even a renovated barn available to VIP ticket holders.

Last year, camping was sold separately from the ticket – an extra $125 per camp site. All things considered, I think Wayhome provides the best value. But here’s a tip: if you’re thinking of attending next year – bring sunscreen. Burl’s Creek Event Grounds has very limited shade, don’t end up roasted like I was!


So have you made your decision? If not, there’s tons of time left. I hope that what I’ve shared here has been helpful. All that’s left now is the waiting, which is never fun. But it’s not all bad. There are plenty of ways to keep busy. Try guessing which yearly lineup rumours and leaks will come true OR get started thinking about your crazy outfit for next year. Most importantly, be sure to keep your ears open and regularly scan the Internet looking for details (and deals)!

Drop a comment and let me know which festival sounds best to you!

Gord’s Secret Path

I won’t restate what’s happened to Gord. If you’re Canadian you most likely already know. If not, no judgments – just take a look at the heartbreaking coverage of his sit-down with longtime friend and CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge.

I watched… more like studied this interview looking for some real insights into how Gord might be doing. You know, those little moments in interviews where a person opens up – really opens up and says something unmistakably honest. I found something when Gord spoke about how he approached his performance throughout the final tour. In a moment, he mimicked the exact expression he used so often on stage and noted that it was a creation of his. He wanted to give us a show, provide us with the best Hip – as we remember them, and as we expected to see in one last farewell tour. For him, it was important to separate from the negative energy that surrounds his diagnosis. On stage, he certainly delivered. The performance was made only more special after learning about some of the difficulties forced upon him by his current condition. If you were fortunate enough to see a show during the tour, then you know how special it was.

In my recent posts, I’ve been writing about music – my listening habits, some of the best venues-  but now I want to dig a little. This time, I’m focusing on the message. Music is powerful – and Gord knows it. He’s using it as a means to spread a message very near and dear to him. I’m talking about the tragic events involving Canadian residential schools, and specifically Gord’s connection to Charlie Wenjack.

For some of us, it’s first-hand. We remember those dark days or maybe we have a connection through family or friends. For most however, these haunting facts have become nothing more than a collection of stories passed on through family members or lessons in school. The first time I really learned about what happened in the residential school system was during my second year of university, in a Canadian Studies class. Far too late, if you ask me. For years I was mostly unaware of how serious the events were, and how they change the lives of so many. The fact is, that I – like many Canadians – am too late in paying attention to an issue that has affected Canadians not only then, but still today.

Chanie Wenjack was an Ojibwe First Nations boy who attended a residential school in Kenora, Ontario. He escaped the school (known as Cecilia Jeffery Residential School) in 1966 and tried to make his way home on foot. It was the dead of winter and Charlie lived over 400 miles away. He died at a nearby train track just a short way into his journey.

Gord’s message – which began as a series of poems before becoming songs – is told through an animated film titled The Secret Path. Artists Jeff Lemire’s illustrations bring to life the dark, desolate story of Charlie Wenjack as he wandered along the train tracks. After the songs, the video shows footage from Gord’s trip to meet Charlie’s sister Pearl (pictured below). Pearl shares a painful memories about what it was like to lose her brother so young.

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The video successfully portrays how Gord’s feelings about the tragic events that were forced upon Charlie. As he revisits the past you can really see the sadness that still lingers for Pearl and her family. As Gord shares these emotions, you can see how deeply involved he’s become. Now, his mission is to move forward and take action. For this, he’s placed his faith in our very own Prime Minister:

“He (Justin Trudeau) cares about the people way up North that we were trained our entire lives to ignore. Trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s goin’ on up there. But what’s goin’ on up there ain’t good. Maybe even worse than it’s ever been. So it’s not on the improve but we’re gonna get it fixed. And we got the guy to do it. To start, to help.” (Full video)

Gord’s message is clear, and very powerful. But the reality is, one man alone won’t be able to change something so systemic. It’s a matter of collective response and action. It’s on us to create more awareness and adapt to the needs of Canadian people that have been suffering for years from our country’s mistakes.

It’s something we should think about, and it’s something we must care about. As Canadians, these stories are undeniable facts about our country’s past. We shouldn’t have to wait for news headlines like Attawapiskat to act or to stir up conversation about the issue. The effects of the residential school program are enduring time and have continued to negatively affect the lives of people in our country.

The first step, as I’ve taken myself, is to learn and understand. The Secret Path brings us a story featuring genuine Canadian people who live everyday still feelings the effects of what happened 50 years ago. Watch it, and think about it. For all of the things we believe and love about our country – our past is not always so clean. It’s also important to remember that these events aren’t limited to Charlie Wenjack – there are many others who were victimized by the residential school system. As a Canadian, it’s easy to look at the time that has passed and think that we’re different from the people who did this. The challenge is to do something about it.

Proceeds from the sale of Secret Path go to The Gord Downie Secret Path fund for Truth and Reconciliation.

Additional resources:

Reconciliation Canada

A History of Residential Schools in Canada

Indian Residential Schools Settlement

Find more information about Secret Path across Gord Downie’s social media:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

My Top 5 Toronto Concert Venues

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There’s a lot to love about the amount of quality musical acts that come to our great city. If you’ve been to many, or even just a few – you’re likely to have visited some of the special historic venues that Toronto has to offer. If not, I urge you to read on to learn more about them.

Live music is my favourite form of entertainment. I’ve been to countless concerts over the years, but it all changed when I first went to a smaller show. I think it’s important to sometimes venture beyond the big acts that fill huge venues like the ACC, Rogers Centre, or Molson Amphitheatre. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of fun to be had at any concert, but there’s something unique about a smaller, more intimate venue. On top of that, they usually don’t charge as much as the big places!

Let’s pretend for a second that I can actually cook. I’m trying to make a “perfect concert” recipe, and it looks something like this:

Start with a small to medium-sized venue 
ADD One of your favourite bands (on the cusp of mainstream popularity)
ADD A beverage or two of choice
ADD Great company 
LEAVE OUT The big venue fans who wait all set for that one or two hit song to play
Put it all together = 🤘

That was definitely kind of lame. I thought it would be cool. Anyways, the point is; a small sized venue is a huge part of what I consider to be the perfect concert atmosphere. Let’s move on to the list.

If you know these venues already, or think they’re obvious suggestions – I apologize. Hopefully you can at least enjoy the pictures.

#1 – Massey Hall

I think it’s fair to say that Massey Hall really needs no introduction. Anyone with a sense of music in Toronto knows the place. They even call themselves “Canada’s most important venue for concerts and lectures” here. It was opened in 1894 and has been renovated a number of times to be seen as it stands today. What I love most about Massey Hall is how it perfectly clings to its history while also providing a perfect concert venue to hold any type of show. I did also find that Justin Bieber did a surprise Christmas concert at the venue in 2011 and the show sold out in under 30 minutes, so that’s cool. One thing for certain, Massey Hall will leave you stunned with views like these:

They also have this kick-ass film & video series that shows recording of live acts that have performed over the past couple years. Definitely worth checking out.

#2 – Adelaide Hall

Small but unique, Adelaide Hall is a great space for a concert or any type of event. Renovated and redesigned in 2015, they’ve done a stellar job capturing the look and vibe of a modern recording studio. Just take a look:

It’s a really versatile space, and they make the most of it by hosting a pretty impressive list of events. Check out the variety showcased on their website.

#3 – The Danforth Music Hall

If I had ranked this list, this would probably be my #1. The Danforth Music Hall was originally built as a movie theatre in 1919. It wasn’t actually considered to be a music venue until much later, and didn’t take on the existing name until 2011. My favourite part of the Danforth is that it actually still resembles a movie theatre. The lobby is very narrow, so you’ll likely be crowded on your way in – but the high ceiling and wide stage make for a great set-up. Take a look at the pictures below:

The Danforth Music Hall posts information about all of their upcoming events on their website and Facebook page.

#4 – The Great Hall

Built between 1889-1890, the Great Hall began as a YMCA. Over the years, it was eventually transformed into a music and speaking venue. Just this year, it received major renovations. Some of the major acts to perform at the Great Hall are Sonic Youth, City & Colour, Feist, Metric, and Sloan. (thegreathall.ca) Imagine seeing one of your current favourite acts in a small place like this? 💯

Take a look at some of The Great Hall’s upcoming acts using the Calendar on their website.

#5 – Echo Beach

Consider this one an honorable mention. I know it’s nothing like the others but I saw a show here this fall for the first time and it’s one of the best outdoor venues I’ve been to. The stage, the sand and the view are all quality. I found it to be a little different from the neighbouring Amphitheatre because it feels more open. More like a festival, less like a concert. The venue holds just 5,000 so you’re guaranteed to get up-close and personal with the act. Plus, how about this view of the city:


If there’s one takeaway from this post, I hope that it’s simply to explore what’s out there. Music is great, concerts are fun, and it should be our duty to take full advantage of how lucky we are to have these great spaces in our city.

If you agree/disagree,  or think I missed some place key – drop a comment and be sure to let me know. Thanks for reading!