This week is not exactly an app review, as VSCO Cam is not exactly an app; it’s more than that. It’s a community. A community of artists, professionals, and amateurs and of course, people who just love filters.  So how did VSCO Cam, which on initial download looks like a photo editing app with a collection of free and premium filters, mutate with such graceful growth into a community of inspirational photographers? Let’s take a look.

VSCO Cam combines what you want with what you need. You can use the app simply to snap and share across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Weibo, instantly and without being taken through the editing process. For some this is perfect, they are out in the moment and don’t want to spend time perfecting tones, exposure or color balance. But for those that do, VSCO comes loaded.

Temperature, contrast, rotation, cropping, fading, vignette, shadows, highlights, grain, highlight tints, shadow tint. Beside Snapseed, this is the closet you can get to having Lightroom on your phone.

Now to the presets. VSCO Cam comes with 10 presets out of the box, but there are an additional 38 that are available for purchase. Lovers of Camera Raw and Lightroom will be familiar with the VSCO presets that include custom camera profiles for Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, and Sony for impressive film emulation. The presets on the app, although not as expansive as the packs for Lightroom and Camera Raw, still do an impressive job.


It was only during this last year that VSCO Cam completed its transformation to the complete ever-changing art gallery it is today. How did it capture the hearts of photographers and phoneographers around the globe? The answer? The grid.

The VSCO Grid is a simplistic, minimalistic platform for artists to showcase their work. Unlike Instagram, photography is not constrained to the 1:1 aspect ratio. One description of the grid would be that it is a culmination of the best elements of Instagram and Tumblr. Check it out yourselves at grid.vsco.co.

But it’s also something more. Unlike both of these other social platforms, VSCO Cam is photography-centric. For lovers of photography and geography, it’s easy to find out the stats of the photograph by touching the chart icon on the top left of a photo. You can find out F-stop, ISO, location and what VSCO preset was used. This information is invaluable to those who want to learn by imitation. Which is indeed no bad way to start.

photo-4VSCO app review

You can’t ‘like’ a photo on the VSCO Grid. Some argue that this is a good thing. It keeps the focus on the art rather than the approval rating. Joel Flory, co-founder of VSCO states, “You would never walk into a exhibition and scribble comments or smiley faces next to a piece of artwork. It’s photography for the sake of photography, without the pressure to create images for the sake of gaining followers.” But much like a gallery, you can spread the word about other artists by sharing their work, only this time on social platforms rather than at the dinner table.

VSCO Cam Review

To quote Joel Flory once more, “VSCO evolved from conversations about the state of photography, design, art and technology. We had many idealistic concepts about creating a business that married art and technology. From these conversations VSCO was born.”

It’s clear that VSCO is a passion project, it’s also clear that this passion was the catalyst for the amazing community of creators and artists that populate the grid of VSCO.

As the saying goes, “do something you love, and then find a way to get paid for it.”

Could VSCO be the next Instagram? The evolution of this app suggests no, it suggests it could be something much more.

Find us on VSCO at //instantlyframed.vsco.co/

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