Glass – Just another photo-sharing app, or is it?

Not long ago, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, posted a video saying Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app and that the company is looking to lean into entertainment and video.

This new direction of Instagram will have much wider repercussions than one might initially think, especially for photographers, leading many of them to anticipate and look for alternatives. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the official launch of the Glass platform.

In this article, Gustaf Jansson from Sweden – a photographer and an avid Fuji user, shares his first impressions of Glass as one of the early adopters of this new platform.

First of all, this text is not sponsored by the team behind Glass. I’ve paid for my first year of subscription to try it out. With that said…

As a photographer, the first half of 2021 was a rollercoaster for me. At least when it came to social media. I’m not against video, but it’s not for me. I guess no one missed the announcement Instagram made this summer. They will put their focus on video. So THAT’S why my likes just dropped like an elephant in the sea earlier this year? Ok, I didn’t have millions of likes before, but when both my posts and stories seemed to fall away from almost everyone, then what’s left?

I know, likes and views aren’t everything. But when you share your creations with the world and the engagement just shrinks month after month, you start to doubt your own work. For me, it was so close that I uninstalled the Instagram app and closed my account for good. What’s the meaning when I don’t reach an audience? Am I not good enough at what I’m doing? Is it even fun to shoot if people don’t like my work?

Such questions are the results from algorithms, at least for me. The more I thought about my Instagram account, the more I realized I needed to do it for myself, not for you, likes or anyone else. I put so much heart and passion into photography, and it must be worth it, for myself!

And as long as Instagram doesn’t give a f*ck about my stills, I don’t give a f*ck about their algorithms and tactics to get thousands of followers. So from now on, I just publish one post a month, my top ten shots that month with a long caption about every single picture. So now I have a monthly diary with the shots that means the most to ME! (and a pretty easily accessible portfolio if someone asks.)

So, what does all this has to do with Glass, the new subscription-based photography app/community? A lot, is the answer.

Glass is a relief for the brain in this digital world of hectic feed of reels, stories, influencers and hearts/likes. When I first opened up Glass, registered my invitation code and picked a profile picture, and I met a really simple UI. It’s not like anything else I’ve tried. There is just a feed with photos from the ones you follow on a chronological timeline.

At the reach of a button, there is another feed with a list of Glass users and thumbnails of their gallery. And at last, your own profile page with your photos, your followers and the people you follow.

You can’t find likes, hearts, stories, ads, follower count, following count. No, nothing except photos and comments. The first day or two, after I’ve published some shots, one part of me really missed the like-trigger. Nothing happened. After some engagement in the form of comments and exploring others to follow, people started to follow me back.

A few days in and some more photos published, more accounts started to follow me. I guess my account shows on their ”explore-page”, I don’t know, really. But it’s nice! Sometimes I get notified that someone left a comment or an answer, and everyone is kind and happy. I don’t need to check every fifth second to look for likes. And the developers don’t need my attention because they don’t earn more money every time I open the app.

And they don’t need me to stay in the app as long as possible because I paid them to use the service. And THAT’S the best part about Glass. You pay a fair amount of money to meet other photographers, and as it is a paid service, you just meet people that actually care, at least in a wider ratio than Instagram.

What do I miss then? I really looking forward to the updated explore-section they’re working on. For now, you just see random accounts listed in an almost endless list. In the near future, the team will release some categories, so you, as the creator, will be able to add categories to your photos.

Another thing that would be nice in the future is the possibility to show your profile to potential customers, like a portfolio. That would give the platform a business purpose and, at the same time, just another reason for the fee.

What if millions of potential customers had access to this platform to find photographers? I don’t mean for selling stock photos, I mean for real work. They could be able to filter profiles by location, type of photographer etc, and then the users don’t just pay to access a platform with other photographers.

What don’t I miss? The like-button!

Okay, I actually miss some features in Glass, and yes, it has some glitches. To be honest, it’s not perfect. That would be insane as it’s a new app made by a team of two. But it’s an app with big potential, and I really hope that other photographers understand that. And that they don’t get scared because of the subscriber fee. Compared to all the equipment a photographer usually owns, this costs almost zero. But it has the potential to give so much in return.

Find me on Glass: @ gj_frames

"I’m born and raised in the cold land up north where we still have Kings and Queens, just like the old medieval days. Talking about the kings, Our King and I share the same name, Gustaf. I’m a full-time employed photographer for fun, and a full-(free)-time Fuji X photographer for passion! At work, I shoot products in all kinds of situations. With my Fuji setup, I focus on things that make me feel good, like my family, the streets of Gothenburg and the nature of Scandinavia. "


    1. Yes, unfortunately it is. I guess they will build a solid app on the easiest platform. As a small dev. team they probably don’t have the ability to develop the app to multiple platforms 🙁
      Hopefully they release a web alternative some day, and/or a native Android app.

  1. I do like the app but I think the subscription fees are a little too high considering how spartan the application is currently (and its got numerous bugs still – uploading content and allowing the screen to time out can break things still).

    That said, its a refreshing change from the absolute mess that Instagram has become. I hope Glass do well but they’ve got a ways to go yet.

    1. They have a discount now in the beginning and I think thats quite fair. I understand your thought thou! I don’t seen that much bugs, but I’ve read about some that has. I think the app will update faster and faster when they get money from the users. So I’m looking forward how it will work out in a month or three 🙂

  2. Right now it’s an exclusive club for invited iOS photographers… this is a long way from being a community that’s open to many different photographers. I have no problem paying for a good app as I use Smugmug and Flickr for good services but as an Android user, I’m out of the loop, and even if I was an iPhone user, the tweets I see for getting invites looks as if current users are steering the new membership to people who they want to see in their club and not an open community.

    1. It’s not that hard thou, the queue for invites are at 500-600 people. When I registered the app one week ago i had place 6500. And they send invites to hundreds of people everyday. Spotify had the same system in the beginning back in the day, so the invite-kick off ain’t 100% a bad thing in the long run. But the iOS thing is a fact! And they probably miss alot of users by develop the app just for iOS. But the team is 2 persons so I guess it’s a tactic choice to just work with iOS right now. Few devices to optimize the app for and a lot of creative people do use Apples devices. And people using iPhone are more prone to pay for apps than Android users, at least some years ago when I wrote about tech. So I guess it’s a tactical choice. 🙂

  3. It’s been an ok experience so far. The app has some issues with metadata and discovery is challenging. It’s been a week and I still have not found any photographers to follow. Instagram may suck but hashtags are useful for search. Given the portrait orientation of the app landscape photographs are not presented well.

    1. What I’ve read on there website the discovery-feed will be updated with categories in a week or two. So it would be updated soon. Then you will be able to link your photos to different categories. 🙂
      Yes, they really need to make something to the landscape presentation. I would like to see a fullscreen-view or something.

  4. My concern is, I do have a good 600 plus posts, exclusively the portrait photography stuff I do, no nonsense profile on Instagram. The pictures out there are may be in other formats on my CapOne or LR cat and I would be forced to redo them for this app.
    Is there a way to directly migrate these accounts to the Glass?, Well, I am asking too much..?

    1. I don’t really understand the problem, you have 600+ photos on you insta-profile and want them on glass? But they are differently cropped in post process software? First of all, you don’t need to have a specific proportion in glass, like 1:1, 4:5 or 16:9. And secondly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to smash up 600 old photos to a brand new platform. See it as a new chapter where your old top 10 or so is invited? I’ve read some complaints about people publish there whole backlog to there profile. I understand people want to share there work. But, you will take new photos on a regular base i guess. Upload them instead. They’re also probably more fair to present you as a photographer today?

  5. I really like the app and think they did a wonderful job… price is fair and I love the absence of “like” button. I’m a fan and will certainly spread the news.

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