Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mobile Photo Blogging: Where to Start?



Everyone knows of Instagram, the hip photo sharing app which has attracted millions of users world wide and owned by Zuckerberg Inc. It is the sensation of the Internet age with lots of potential for monetization that has also spawned a legion of would be apps. Because of its mass hipster appeal, some might prefer something different. I was researching a host of content and delivery mobile blogging platforms for one of my sites when this idea about mobile photo blogging came about. Instead of talking about the old, let's shed some light on the new.

For those who are yet undecided, you could of course try your luck with a slight more hip community on a mobile platform. Where do you start? Do you wish to slug it out for top spot on Instagram or build your own followers over time on a new photo blogging platform? Here are some new alternatives for your consideration.

VSCO Cam for iOS and Android

From the Visual Supply company that bought you VSCO Cam app some time back, it was positioned as a challenger to the highly popular Hipstamatic camera app that was all the rage on iOS. VSCO cam now integrates fully with VSCO Grid, a photo publishing platform which is very similar to Instagram but it chooses to monetize in a different manner.

VSCO Grid is free to use but sells users the option to further enhance their photos with filter presets. These presets will be available upon purchase and starts in the ballpark of US$3.00 a pop.

The UI is very confusing to begin with. First, you need to add photos to the VSCO Cam library before you can use it on VSCO Grid. The presets are nice but I did find the icon based tools to be a bit too simple for my liking. It doesn't offer much enhancement potential besides applying the chosen filter to your image. You can vary the strength of the preset but that's about all it does.VSCO Grid is accessible through a web browser so this makes a worthwhile experience if you just want to consume content in your free time from a desktop.

Not many users on this platform at the moment so it is a good place to start if you want to be king of the hill.



Oggl App for iOS and Windows Mobile

The new addition from the makers of Hipstamatic camera offers a new way to photo blog with all the Hipstamatic filters for free if you sign up with a paid subscription. Not a bad idea, so it's generally ok to give this a shot if you don't already have all the filters from Hipstamatic camera. Cost you US$10 a year as a contributor.

The UI is a bit confusing to use as with the rest. You need to add photos to your Oggl album before it can be shared to your feed. It also integrates with Instagram and post to Facebook or Twitter should you wish but is limited to still images only for now. 

I like the UI for this app but one of the sticking points is still the relatively laggy feel of the app when browsing and posting to the platform. It is still very buggy at least on iOS. This photo blogging platform is purely mobile and offers no access for web use.





Instagram 

The Facebook owned photo sharing app is probably the most popular to date and needs no introduction. It added video capabilities last year and is one of the best visual marketing tools on the Internet as it is purely mobile. It helped to popularize the square format photos used the Polaroid SX-70. In some ways, it is a homage of sorts to Dr. Edwin Land's creation. The square format video/photo made it easy for photographers to frame subjects as there is no portrait or landscape picture orientation -- leaving you free to play around with the composition. Instagram has also spawned the likes of Webstagram, a desktop companion to Instagram that has its own community of followers. With the desktop companion, you could try and engage with a larger community instead of relying on hashtags to promote your photo feed.




EyeEm


An instagram clone with a difference. It limits your posting to only four categories of your choice and offers a desktop login to view and like photos as well as share them to other social networks. Pictures can be captured in both landscape or square format so you have the full creative breath to post your worst selfies. This happens to be true unfortunately as there are more selfies posted than any other image. The UX is nice. Somehow they get it right as the dark theme sort of enhances your images. There are challenges posted on their blog to engage users as well as encouraging communities and ambassadors to represent their brand.




Streamzoo for iOS and Android

One of the few instagram clones that is still around. It supports both photos and video and in some ways are far better than Instagram but somehow, it just doesn't quite hold the interest of people who join. Part of the problem is that the community isn't very vibrant as the quality of the photos posted are pedestrian in nature. It just doesn't quite have the appeal of Instagram. Landscape and portrait photos and video are also supported.But in terms of social engagement, the tools are there for you to use. You earn points for posting and giving shoutouts to fellow photographers, problem is, the points don't amount to anything.

Too bad it hasn't taken off in a big way. Steamzoo has a web interface for desktop browsing.

[UPDATE 3/2014: Streamzoo will be shutting down its services on March 21st. 2014]

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Mobli for Android and iOS

This app was the darling of the South Americans as it came preloaded with devices sold there. It is basically a channel based photo/video sharing platform which is similar to that found on Streamzoo. The only difference is that the community is somewhat fragmented. You can start your own groups to kick off your own photo community specializing in some sort of fetish and this is where Mobli hopes to challenge the likes of Instagram.



Pheed for iOS and Android

Probably the best place to post borderline porn of yourself as Pheed gives you the option to monetize your channel feed. That's right folks. It rocks when it comes content as some of the biggest brands in America are a part of this. This is the only social community that lets you make money instead of them making money off you!

I have never known anyone to pay to subscribe to a channel on Pheed but you probably should if you think someone horny enough to be interested in the pictures that you post. You can create multiple channels and attract paying ones to a channel feed of your own design. Not a bad place to start earning your keep if I might add.




Mobile Photo Blogging Points to the Future

Even if you feel that Instagram is far too saturated for your liking, you still can't write off the fad in photo blogging. Mobile photo blogging works because people's attention spans are limited to instant gratification. Instagram spawned a legion of similar type photo apps but in the end, it is up to you to decide if it is safe to jump in.

No platform will promise you a service that last forever, as a mobile photographer, your goal is to share and get involved with communities who have a like minded interest in mobile photography.

Photo sharing communities are choke full of users often have so much content that you get drowned out each time you post. This holds true for Instagram so it is not really the best place to start if you are not going to do this often enough.

Before you start on any social community, take it for a spin first to see if you like it. That's the only way to tell if you can fit in.

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