These days, photography is taken very seriously. It is no longer about making sure everyone is in the photo or simply whether your subject is captured. It is about how it is being captured. How the light illuminates the best parts of our subjects and whether or not it is captured in the best possible way.
Even amateur photographers with their handy mobile devices may still find it hard to grasp the whole photography concept. I know I still have not gotten the hang of it. How people made their pictures (taken using their iPhones mind you!) on Instagram so beautifully articulated and drop dead gorgeous.
Then, I scrolled down, looking at the caption and there it was. The answer was staring right me: #vscocam.
The app that proliferated the market in 2012 has over five million of those infamous hashtags making it the most used brand hashtag on Instagram, beating other huge brand names such as Nike and Disney. And there are no signs of this slowing down.
VSCOcam is setting the stage for the beginning of mobile photography where anybody can be artist, even if it is for a day.
More than just a photo-editing app
Visual Supply Company, or better known as VSCOcam, is not your ordinary photo-editing app. In fact, it is more than what it is popularized to be. This app has, in its short 2 years since its release, revolutionized mobile photography and transformed the ordinary every day picture into potential works of art. And is one of the reasons why this app will continue to live on even as other social networking sites die out.
Founded in 2011 by duo Greg Lutze and Joel Flory, VSCOcam (pronounced as Vis-Co cam) started its venture as a platform for photographers to curate their photos with a notably large collection of digital filters in which they refer to as “presets”.
As co-founder Greg Lutze has told Cereal Magazine, “We call them “presets” rather than “filters” because they do more than just apply something on top of an image. It’s about creating a look that assists the image, but doesn’t dominate it.”
And right on point, VSCOcam features a stunning collection of presets in which are greatly inspired from the era of analog film. The mixing of modern day digital photography and old school vintage photography has allowed for the proliferation of amateur (though they seem pretty professional now) photographers as seen through VSCO Grid.
Taking everyday life and allowing users to shape it into art forms, some even museum worthy, is what’s setting VSCOcam apart from its competitors.
“It has nothing to do with name power or social media power. Names and status have no bearing. That’s one of the things we’re proud about in the Grid,” said Lutze.
Individuals from all walks of life all are featured and it is not like Instagram where you click over to the “explore” button only to see images posted by mutual friends or images with thousands of likes. These images are meticulously selected by the VSCO team to showcase only the best of the best. Over 400 images shown on the Grid everyday, it strays far from the notion that only popular images will be shown.
“VSCO is the company coming closest to replicating the look of film without making it gimmicky,” says a photography enthusiast and designer at software studio MetaLab, William Wilkinson in an interview with The Verge.
The creative brains behind VSCO takes pride in how the work should speak for itself and has yet to reveal any statistics about the number of users VSCOcam has had till this date. Lutze and Flory also places great importance on presenting these photos as art forms as there are and also removes the plethora of the feedback loop that social networking sites are known for.
The Anti-Social Network
As the popularity of VSCO cam increases, the question of whether or not another Instagram will be born is questionable. Of course there are a number of similarities with VSCO to the almighty photo-sharing app – but I beg to differ.
In many ways, the VSCO Grid and the users own VSCO Journal shares a striking resemblance to an Instagram feed and profile respectively. However, its minimalistic and modern vibe allows users to specifically to advertise their skills as a photographer, be it amateurish or not.
But unlike Instagram, VSCO excludes itself from platforms for followers to like or even comment hence eliminating that feedback loop that most social networking sites thrive with.
“We’re not interested in creating another social network. We wanted to create a platform that honored the art [our users] created without likes and comments,” Joel Flory also noted in his interview with Cereal Magazine.
Users who are seeking for that feedback can post their photographic art works on other platforms Instagram and other social networking sites as VSCO founders maintain their stance on how the app and company itself, focuses solely on photography.
As Instagram places great focus in the number of likes and followers, VSCOcam fills the gap that Instagram has left as the original platform for mobile photographers. Thus, VSCOcam acts a complementary app against these already existent and prominent players in the online world.
Other popular apps such as Afterlight also act as complementary apps to popular photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Twitter. Although both social networking sites have introduced some filters into their app, it has yet to gain the recognition and hype that VSCOcam and other photo-editing apps have acquired through their unique take on filters.
Ultimately, we as users in social networking sites or even simple photo-sharing apps go through many mediums or “presets” in order to portray ourselves in the best possible light.
VSCO in a sense, although it boasts a wide feature of presets for the users to use to alter their images, still differs from the other photo-sharing apps as well as social networking sites that has proliferated the market.
Essentially what began as a simple photography tool, also serves to promote a creative community that has been largely ignored and overlooked and will continue to set the stage for budding amateur photographers with just an iPhone in their hands signaling a worldwide creative movement that will be a force to be reckoned with.