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VSCO gives free photography lessons to all from beginner to expert level

VSCO is one of the most popular photo apps, especially among seasoned photographers. And they’re translating their knowledge into a VSCO Academy on YouTube with videos to learn the ins and outs of photography.



vsco academy

Introducing VSCO Academy

Ever wanted to learn more about photography? Now you can learn from the pros at VSCO. VSCO is one of the most popular photo apps, especially among seasoned photographers. And they’re translating their knowledge into a VSCO Academy on YouTube with videos to learn the ins and outs of photography.


VSCO: Professional-quality digital editing

VSCO, which stands for Visual Supply Company, is an art and technology company based in Oakland, California. Initially, VSCO was aimed at providing digital editing tools to the likes of professional photographers and graphic designers.

Co-founder Joel Flory says, “We went to creating tools that we would actually use as photographers and that’s where VSCO was born.”

A few years ago, the company released VSCO Cam – an app which allows users to transform bland photos into gallery-worthy artistic images. However, with over a million downloads in the first week after release, the app’s drawn a massive following that goes way beyond professional photographers. The app bundles in a variety of tremendously good filters (which VSCO prefers to call “Presets”), granular yet accessible editing tools, and minimalist user profiles called Grids. Users can keep their photo “grids” within the app or share their favorites on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Learn, be inspired, engage in the art

VSCO isn’t stopping with the app. Following their recent rebranding, the company has a new project. They’ve have started a new, original series on their YouTube channel called Academy. VSCO Academy is “a place for photographers of all levels to learn, be inspired, and engage in the art of photography.”

The Academy is hosted by Katy and Max, a pair of visual artists based out of Seattle, and promises to deliver easy-to-understand tutorials. Their aim is to share fun and informative content surrounding photography. Each new video will feature a different aspect of photography. Through their lessons, you can learn about topics such as landscape, composition, and light.

In addition to the videos, they’ll also be posting useful tips, interviews, and written content. All of which can be found on the Academy channel located within the VSCO app or on the VSCO YouTube channel. You can also find the videos on


Nichole earned a Master's in Sociology from Texas State University and has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has spent her career in tech and advertising. Her writing interests include the intersection of tech and society. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University.

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  1. hammarbytp

    March 16, 2016 at 6:50 am

    The address is not the one given in the article

    • Lani Rosales

      March 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      OH MY GOD it is. Updated – thanks, buddy. #embarrassing

  2. Patrick Smith

    March 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Your link is misspelled I think.

    • Lani Rosales

      March 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Refresh the page, we corrected our ridiculous mistake 🙂 THANK YOU, Patrick!

  3. Clif

    March 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Very cool! My photography game is like my pool game…either terrible or tolerable but never great. I’d not heard of the VSCO app, so I’ll definitely be getting that.

    • Lani Rosales

      March 17, 2016 at 10:50 am

      It has a ton of options, but once you decide a few of your faves, you’ll have a formula to look a little differently than the same 10 Instagram filters 😉 WE LOVE IT!

  4. Pingback: 5 Interesting Reads | Photo Life

  5. Pingback: How to photograph your products so they sell - The American Genius

  6. Pingback: Google's new photo app means the past is the future is now (but it sucks so far) - The American Genius

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.




Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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Social Media

Innovative widget places Instagram Stories right on your website

(SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS) Increase your social media reach with this neat new free to use Instagram Stories widget for your company website or personal portfolio site.



instagram stories widget

Instagram Stories are a great way to integrate video into your marketing strategy. If you’re already investing time and money in this successful strategy, might as well feature Stories on your website too, right?

Well lucky you, Fastory recently released a free widget to add Instagram Stories directly to your site to feature your nifty marketing efforts on desktop. Even though mobile is still dominant with younger generations, desktop users need some love and access to Stories, too.

Fastory CEO Sylvain Weber noted the “widget is the only one fully based on the brand new Instagram Graph API (no private API, validated by Facebook himself).” This pretty much means Fastory is ahead of the game with the newly opened up API, and are basically development pioneers.

Drive awareness and build loyalty by spreading the wonder of your Instagram Stories far and wide with the Stories Widget. Simply log in to Facebook to get the widget, then sync your Instagram Stories stream.

Next, all you have to do is copy the provided HTML code and paste it on your website. Hooray, now you have a widget that automatically updates your website with your latest Stories.

Keep in mind you’ll need an Instagram Business Account for this to work.

If you have more than one business Instagram linked to Facebook Pages, just select the one you want to use from the drop-down menu when getting the widget code.

You can continue that process to select multiple Instagram accounts and generate widget codes for each of them.

Free for a limited time, you can also utilize the Memories feature, keeping a collection of your Instagram Stories on your site instead of having them disappear after twenty-four hours like usual.

All the Stories featured on your site also include a “follow us” button to encourage user engagement and gain you more followers.

Looking for help jazzing up your Instagram Stories? Fastory was originally created as an easy to use design platform to create and customize Stories.

Their mobile-first marketing suite offers drag & drop design featuring animated headlines crafted in Adobe After Effects, fonts from Google Web Fonts, and motion design.

Story creation and editing is collaborative with varying roles and levels of privileges. Plus, you can track visitors in real time to identify drop off points and areas for improvement. Contact Fastory for Story creation pricing information.

And on the free end of things, check out the Instagram Story Widget.

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Social Media

Turns out the secret to brand success on Instagram is Stories

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is a marketing heaven, and Stories appear to be they key to success (even if they disappear in 24 hours). Let’s discuss.




It’s been over a year since Instagram (or “Insta” as the cool kids call it) launched their Stories feature. And while Instagram Stories may not seem like most obvious place for advertising your business, social media experts say that it has untapped potential as a marketing tool.

The seemingly biggest drawback of using Stories for marketing is that, taking a cue from Snapchat, Instagram Stories are only online for 24 hours, then they disappear forever.

Nonetheless, the analysts at Socialbakers say that businesses should seriously consider marketing via Stories. These experts looked at over 1,000 Instagram accounts from businesses and found that they are being underutilized as a marketing tool.

Stories are extremely popular amongst viewers. There are 300 million active users looking at Stories every day, and that number hasn’t stopped growing since Instagram launched the feature.

Stories also appear at the very top of a user’s feed – although we’re still not exactly sure how Instagram’s algorithms sort these posts.

It’s also important to note that users can’t “like” or leave comments on Stories, so you won’t be able to use these metrics to gauge the success of your Stories marketing. Instead, you’ll have to look at Total Impressions, which tells you how many people have seen your story, or Reach, which tells you how many brand new potential customers saw your story.

With social media platforms always changing their rules and algorithms, it’s getting harder and harder to reach new potential customers, especially without dishing out cash for paid or boosted ads. Stories is a great loophole that allows you to connect with your audience without paying for it.

Don’t get caught up thinking you have to make a high-production video. Short, rough-cut, unpolished videos work great for Stories and give your audience a behind-the-scenes view of your business. Stories can be utilized to tell the story of your brand. And you can even add a poll to your story to increase engagement. For example, Red Bull asks viewers which picture they should post next, keeping the user engaged and clicking.

Social media platforms are always changing, but your business can get an edge over your competitors by staying up-to-date with new formats and features.

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