Sinéad Buckingham takes a look at the photo editing app VSCO Cam, giving her opinion on what appears to be the photographers’ answer to Instagram.
The now immensely popular photo-editing app Instagram, released in 2010, was once, in its early days, a new and exciting platform for those passionate about photography to share snapshots of their life with others who felt the same. Its range of colourful filters had the ability to grant even the most mundane objects a fresh lease of life and, with some tactical hashtag-ing, fiddling of the brightness and a cheeky vignette, the boring was made interesting.
However, as Instagram evolved, it seemingly placed less focus on photo quality and more on social interaction. The most recent features, such as tagging friends and the potential to upload short videos, only reaffirm this. The filters became stale, overused and were not updated frequently enough. What was once an exclusive sanctuary for the sharing of high quality images became something akin with Facebook and Twitter. Now everyone has Instagram and users are more concerned with the crafting of a witty caption, complete with the most appropriate emojis, than the photo itself.
Enter VSCO Cam, short for Visual Supply Company. Although the app has been around for 18 months or so (and hasn’t dropped out of the top 15 in the App Store’s Photography and Video category since its launch), I feel it is only more recently that it has really come into its own. VSCO Cam is quite obviously designed by photographers for photographers; its filters (or Presets) aim to recreate the effects of different film cameras, without sacrificing the sharpness of the original image or its authenticity. Its editing tools are sophisticated enough to maximise the lighting and composition, yet remain simple and accessible.
Once you have edited your photo, you can upload it onto a sleek and minimalistic looking user profile (or Grid). VSCO Cam’s developers created something different from a simple replica of an Instagram profile, meaning features such as likes and comments are not possible. Instead, you have a more personal and selective profile, letting you manually search for users to follow instead of being able to import friends from Facebook (as on Instagram) encouraging you to be more thoughtful with who you follow.
However, many VSCO Cam users are still keen to show off the fruits of their editing labour, so the app has the feature to share your images on other social networking sites (though bizarrely only one at a time) and tag it with #vscocam. This essentially means that Instagram now boats an ever-growing selection of beautiful, professional and very real looking photos.
Overall then, VSCO Cam is fast emerging as the premier photo editing app, as well as the app of choice for those tired of the oversaturated Instagram. It marks the welcome return to photo editing for its own sake, and a move away from the heavily contrasted ‘Sultro’ images of Costa Lattés followed by a sea of hashtags (#likeforlike, #followforfollow etc) that populate Instagram. VSCO Cam is filling a gap in the market and moving forward the art of high quality photography editing and sharing.