Glass Photo Sharing Photography Community App | Pros & Cons

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Glass Photo Sharing Photography Community App | Pros & Cons

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It arrived... I have my Glass invitation code to the new iOS photosharing app on the market Glass.

In the above video, I take you inside the Glass app, open an account and provide a look inside.

Be mindful, that being in the early stages the Glass app could be updated making some of my observations no longer valid.

Who is Glass?

Founders Tom Watson and Stefan Borsje have made it clear with their tagline 'Your photography is the point' that Glass is indeed a photo-sharing app that focuses solely on photography. It is not a place for influencers or business marketing.

Tom started designing what would eventually be Glass in 2013. Chipping away at the project, talking to people, different names, and ideas thrown around without much progress for years.

Tom's background is 20 years designing digital products and was an early product designer at Facebook and Pinterest. It was then at Framer that he met co-founder Stefan who has also worked at Amazon Web Services. The Glass project began to happen in 2019 when Tom and Stefan decide to built it together.

Is this what you have been waiting for?

You may be waiting for your invitation code, shopping around for a photosharing app and community – an alternative to VSCO, 500px, Instagram, Facebook groups or Adobe community.

It seems this app release is perfect timing after Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram said "We're no longer just a square photo-sharing app".

It seems many photographers have missed the obvious shift that has been happening for years now... have been looking for alternative apps to share their photos and engage with a photography community.

What is different about Glass?

This is not just an app to fill the potential void.

What I love about the bold concept beyond the distraction-free app focussed on your photos is the return to the chronological feed. After finding photographers to follow, their latest uploads appear in your feed.

It is not designed to keep you scrolling using addictive tricks to encourage engagement or using your usage data to feed an algorithm.

Glass is independent and has not taken outside funding, opting for support by the community itself through subscription $5 a month or $50 a year or, at launch, $30 a year with a free 14-day trial available to new users.

The app is iOS only and to join, you need to join the queue for an invitation or from other Glass members. Once inside you have invitations to provide your friends and family. In a recent Twitter update, they suggested the invites only exist to ensure the quality experience and that they can scale responsibly.

They have a feedback board and seem to be responding to feedback quickly like the location in EXIF brought to their attention by Greg at the iPhoneography podcast – as I am sure many others! It is turned off for now and will be an option to turn on/off in a coming release.

In the future, they have detailed their dream of this being a wonderful, self-sustaining community. A place where people feel good about spending time online, learning and growing as a photographer. They have big plans for features that photographers have told them they've wanted.

Pros - what you will like
  • Subscription based. Yes, that is a positive... support the developers to keep providing updates and making this an even better expereince!
  • No ads or data tracking
  • No algorithm: You see things as they are posted, and when you return to the app the photos you've seen are still there.
  • No engagement tricks to get you hooked on the app... just photos
  • No filters: When you upload a photo, there are no in-app editing tools.
  • P3 color profile support
  • Minimal compression
  • EXIF data behind your photos automatically uploads
  • Community around comments 
  • No "likes" or "reactions": If you want to tell someone you like their photo, then you literally leave a comment about the photo.
  • Photos take up the whole screen
  • Tap the photo to see the EXIF
  • Peek at the photographer information by swiping right and holding the screen
  • Can delete an individual photo by swiping left
  • Icons are intuitive
  • Chronological is great to be selective about who I follow
inside glass app photo sharing exif photographer deatisl and zoom in low compression
Cons - what you may want
Glass may have already updated the app before you read this... if not, you can jump on their feedback board and upvote some recommendations
  • Cannot add a hotlink to your website/portfolio in the bio
  • Very hard to find like-minded photographers in your particualr interest 
  • When looking at other user's profiles, it would be great to see their photos organised in a thumbnail format rather than having to scroll through each photo. 
  • Allow users to group photos by album
  • Cannot unfollow unless you block someone - it feels nasty to do!
  • Cannot add a caption after the photo is uploaded
  • Cannot remove or edit EXIF
  • Ability to share profile instead of just one photo
  • If you share a photo outside the app, the recipient needs to poen an account
  • Tags or hashtags do not mean algorithm – easier to search
  • The iPad experience is lacking
  • No quick positive feedback – comment feedback is at risk of becoming copy and paste

That looks like a lot of features that I would like to see. At release, the app is no doubt designed to offer a stable, beautiful experience before including features responding to feedback that align with their vision.

The number one recommendation that I feel needs attention is discovery. Glass may introduce categories that we can select as we upload our photos. Adding tags can be a way to assist search (not algorithms).

Being able to locate photographers to follow based on their EXIF data, bio descriptions, location, captions would be a great way for members already in the system who have already contributed photos to the platform. 

Community

I love the idea of community. After losing my own photography community twice now on Instagram going algorithm engagement and then Facebook changing the FB group notification late last year, my organic reach dropped significantly. I decided to create my own community in a forum on my website.

Having comments gives you the chance to learn organically while you interact and chat with other photographers. This kind of dialogical learning allows you to improve your photos and foster friendships.

Like Glass, I know that community is so important... Online communities around a hobby help to get inspired and stay motivated.

A great community can actually boost your wellbeing, increase self-empowerment, and even provide social support!

What is missing that you find in a forum

As adults, we all learn differently. Some learn by being passive participants in a community of interest. You may learn through comments through a willing photographer who has the inclination and training to provide thoughtful, relevant information that you specifically need.

In my opinion, the fastest way to learn any skill is through a designed program by a qualified instructional designer. 

What else do you find in the Smartphone Photography Training free membership and community forum?

  • Learning a new technique or editing method
  • The ability for members to start or join a conversation without being prompted by a photo
  • Discuss the latest trends
  • Post questions and help answer questions
  • Post photos for feedback and critique
  • Discussion threads on exchange tips on different topics like apps, genres
  • Regular photo themes to provide project-based learning
  • Create a new thread to start a conversation with other members instead of commenting on a photo that someone posts on a social app

Who knows, Glass may have some amazing learning experience planned within their app beyond commenting on photos.

Smartphone Photography Club - forum community

The Smartphone Photography Club is restricted to members only to provide better moderation, prevent spamming, and stop keyboard warriors. Furthermore, you have complete control over your notifications preferences, so you decide how many e-mails and notifications you'll receive.

To make sure that the content you want to see is always available, members of the Smartphone Photography Club also gain access to the searchable content repository. The content repository allows you to access all of the past articles, podcasts and videos that you want to see with a simple search. Basically, it's like a direct line to all of the photography information you need and the community.

Back to Glass – hopefully, that is enough information to help you make an informed decision on whether it is what you're looking for in a photo-sharing app and what you want to achieve out of a learning photography community.

Articles are great to learn a tip or technique. The fastest and transformational way to learn is these structured training options – here.

Interested in joining our community forum and accessing all my downloads, unlocked tutorials, videos and podcast episodes? 

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