How To Use The App That Will Make Your Photos Look 1,000 Times Better

VSCO image by username iejatebabom, edited with VSCO Cam.

Everyone wants their Facebook photos and Instagram pics to shine, but most social-networking platforms’ photo-editing tools fall short.

Even Instagram’s preset filters are beginning to feel passé. A regular ‘grammer can spot Valencia a mile away, and Instagram itself seems to be realising that “the cool teens don’t use Instagram filters anymore.” The company introduced five new filters in December 2014.

What teens do use is VSCO Cam. VSCO is an art and technology company based in Oakland, California. VSCO Cam allows users to transform bland photos into gallery-worthy artistic images. 

But navigating VSCO Cam’s wider set of editing tools can prove challenging for first-time users.

The app’s interface has almost no text. The idea is to give the app a global feel, so people can easily use it regardless of their language, but some of the pictograms are confusing.

The first thing you'll see when you download the app is an introduction slide. Click the box in the bottom left corner to navigate to the app's main menu.

The main menu lets you view your profile, explore other users' photos, access your library, or buy more filters. Take an in-app photo by clicking the camera icon (small square with a circle inside it).

The in-app camera offers lots of additional controls such as manual focus, shutter speed, white balance, and exposure compensation. To access these controls click the dotted circle on the top left.

When multiple camera controls are selected, they will be highlighted in white. It may seem confusing, but you just have to start hitting buttons and experimenting. Here, we've selected a photo grid for alignment (grid icon), low-light boost (white dot), white-balance lock (lock with the 'WB' in it), and an advanced brightness option (square with 'ADV'). When you're happy with the composition, snap a pic!

All photos taken from within the app are automatically stored in your library. If you're in the library, click the square on the bottom left to head back to the main menu, or click the camera icon to snap a new photo.

You can also upload a photo to your library by clicking the plus sign. Tap once on a photo to select it, then tap the paintbrush icon to edit the photo.

The paintbrush icon lets you choose filters. The screwdriver icon lets you access additional editing tools. The box with two bars lets you selectively remove edits.

There are tons of filter options. Click the one you want to apply, then click the slider to adjust the strength.

You can also add tints by clicking the edit screwdriver icon and selecting Tint.

VSCO's editing tools can alter tons of things like tint, sharpness, clarity, brightness, skin tone, and more.

When you're happy with the photo, you can export it to your iPhone library, social media, or share it to your grid.

Your grid is a personal feed of photos, similar to Instagram's feed. You can add a comment and share your location.

Click back into the main menu, then click Explore to explore other people's grids. You can search by keyword or hashtag.

If you're looking to add more customisation, click Shop in the main menu to purchase custom filters.

Now that you've mastered VSCO Cam, check out some amazing Instagrams.

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