It’s probably correct to assume that most people who own or use an iPhone on a daily basis will have a ‘Top 5’ in terms of their favourite apps, and it is most likely that at least one of the apps included in their ‘Top 5’ will come in the form of a camera/photo editing app. It’s pretty overt to see that iPhone users are passionate about the way they use their camera on their phone, and that’s evident in two areas: a) hardware, and b) software.
Apple didn’t design arguably the best camera on a smartphone out-of-the-blue—Apple realised and understood the way their customers used their iPhones. Consumers no longer wanted to carry around their digital camera in their bags. Instead, they wanted a device that was adept at taking stunning photographs as well as being able to deal with all the normal functions of a smartphone, like calling, texting, surfing the Internet and checking the weather. Apple surprised their customers with actually how good the camera on the iPhone was, and this began with the 5 megapixel camera on the iPhone 4. To be able to capture something that was already physically great and make it greater to use on the iPhone 4S could be deemed superlative.
The App Store has no doubt been the biggest way that the iPhone transformed mobile photography. Taking photos on a smartphone isn’t something that’s neither new nor distinctive; what made iPhone photography (or iPhoneography if you’re like that) so successful were apps like Instagram and Camera+. It wouldn’t be fabricated to say that apps like the ones listed changed the way people approached taking photos on their iPhones. Quickly snapping pictures of your order at a restaurant or excessive photos of your cat became normal. Cropping a photo and applying a vintage filter appealed to iPhone users—in fact, over 50 million of them. People love their photos.
If you’ve ever happened to have browsed the App Store for camera apps, you’d know that there’s more than a plentiful supply, and many of which are disputably bad knock-offs of apps like Instagram and Camera+ and simply downright ugly ones. In between those, there’s actually a selection of outstanding apps—one of which I’m about to review: VSCO CAM. Similar to Instagram, VSCO CAM follows the same principle of snapping a photo and then transforming it by applying different effects and filters. However, VSCO CAM does it differently.
VSCO CAM is elegant, beautiful and simple. VSCO CAM works to help you create beautiful photos in a minimalistic manner. The app provides its users with minimal processing options and realistically bridges the gap between shooting a photo and spending the shortest time editing it to make it instantly stunning. What’s crucial about VSCO CAM however is that it’s different: it’s not a social network. Despite giving users the ability to share their photos via different social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, I view VSCO CAM as a more personal approach to mobile photography. It concentrates on one task of giving you, as the user, the creativity to transform a photo whilst removing the technicality of professional photo editing—minimally.
Upon launch of the app, the user is provided with the familiar photo snapping view across iOS with VSCO CAM’s reputable pale, ivory-coloured navigation bar running along the bottom of the screen. It’s straightforward—take your shot(s) and worry about the rest later. Hitting the pair of frames in the bottom left-hand corner brings you to your ‘library’ essentially and is where you can edit your photos. Tapping a photo gives you five individual options: view the image full size, transform it, share it, save it (to your camera roll) or delete it—all represented by simple icons.
In terms of editing your photo, VSCO CAM offers you just ten main filters, numbered between 1 and 10. With the exception of the first three being variants of black and white, the other seven are coloured, vintage filters. Tapping on one of the filters from the selection applies the filter and really, that’s all there is to it (provided you’re happy with the result). Otherwise, VSCO CAM maintains its minimalistic fashion and provides users with the ability to alter the fade, grain, contrast, temperature, fill, exposure, vignette, saturation, highlights and finally the cropping of a photo. Everything in VSCO CAM is represented by easily identifiable icons—this is one of the things that makes VSCO CAM so great for me.
The way VSCO CAM deals with its functions are consistently simple. I see VSCO CAM as an app I could load to an iPhone, hand to my grandmother and ask her to edit a photo—she could do it. VSCO CAM makes your photos look beautiful. For example, take a look at the before and after shot below. The effects are simple but beautiful enough to catch your eye.
Ultimately, the art to VSCO CAM is your creativity. If you can get a shot that pleases you visually whilst attracting the eye of those around you, you’ve succeeded. VSCO CAM isn’t an app that requires you to read some form of instructions either; it’s just works. VSCO CAM could be one of the best purchases you’ll make for just 99¢.