Every photographer has been trying to find a way to escape from and get off of Instagram. For most of us, there’s no reason to be on it. In fact, we’re all pretty burned out of social media. And we’ve spoken before about how VSCO is a great alternative. But it just got even better. VSCO Spaces, the closest thing to an Instagram group chat, is now a much more functional tool. With today’s announcement, photographers can upload multiple images and have full chat dialogue. But of course, there’s a catch; for good reasons too.
Unlike Instagram, VSCO doesn’t have ads. Ads keep Instagram free but are also a massive brain drain. VSCO Membership is only around $30/year as of early April 2023. I can honestly say that if you really care about photography, it’s worth it. But it also means you need to find a way to get all your contacts over to VSCO. This was my personal problem with it. I love VSCO’s app, interface, and all. But I don’t know anyone there to justify my use of the spaces feature.
To give more specificity, unpaid VSCO members can be a part of spaces and actively contribute to them. But they can’t create them. That’s a feature that’s only available for paid members. All users, whether paid or not, can contribute chat messages and upload multiple images to the space.
To be straightforward, I love that VSCO is doing this. And I sincerely appreciate that VSCO is announcing so many new things frequently. But these announcements are so long overdue that most photographers have long moved on beyond this. It’s synonymous with sending a fax message when we’ve got an email, text message, airdrop, and more. What’s more, it seems to be parallel with the camera manufacturers that all end up coming out with the same features simultaneously; but some are behind others.
VSCO’s new heads feature a lot of Adobe alum. And I hope that VSCO starts to modernize and even surpass Instagram as a place for photographers. But VSCO shouldn’t be a place that completely replaces Instagram for photographers. Instagram is a great place to see what your friends, family, and those who create content around your interests are. You should use it as a social media platform instead of as an all-in-one hub.
VSCO is instead a place for photographers to get creative with one another and share their interests and passions. You can do that on Instagram, but then you’re tempted to get deeper into the algorithm and then have Instagram try to ram new stuff down your throat. But on VSCO, you’re just getting fed the photos of people you follow.
This is how VSCO stays independent in its own place. But speaking from a business perspective, there will still need to be a way to have VSCO monetize those free users. That’s far more difficult of a challenge to figure out.
One of the reasons why I keep VSCO on my phone is because I’ve submitted images that have reassured me that I’m doing excellent work. After all, they’re shared prolifically through the community. But most of the time, I forget that it’s there because I’ve muted notifications from almost every app on my phone. Why? Well, I don’t want to be distracted while I’m working. I welcome distractions from friends and loved ones on Facebook and Instagram to get away from work for a few minutes. But I don’t have many contacts I can personally interact with on VSCO. Perhaps that’s the problem: it’s a community with a significant disconnect between the photographers on the platform.
If you decide to give VSCO a shot, add me, please.