VSCO: Embrace the Basic

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Anna Van der Linden

A strange phenomenon has swept the basic-teen-girl community. Starting slowly last summer, the movement’s online presence has only gotten larger. It’s a true test of artsiness, it’s a place of heavy filters: it’s the VSCO Cam link in your Instagram bio.

VSCO originally stood for Visual Supply Company, which made film and photo-editing tools for Adobe and Apple products. VSCO Cam is a full-fledged app that operates as a camera, editing app, and photo blog. Users can upload their own pictures or take new ones directly on the app. VSCO provides a range of carefully manufactured filters and also offers other filter packs starting at $0.99. Photos are posted to your grid, or you can make specialized journals for photo collections.

Interestingly, the app does not seek to be a form of social media. Pictures cannot be liked, no comments can be made, and follower/following numbers are difficult to access. You can follow other accounts, but that’s about it in terms of social connection. The app is simply for pictures.

Some people post their VSCO-edited pics on Instagram, and many can be found with the tag #VSCO or #VSCOcam. But most teen girls have simply posted their account links in their bio. This trend is so common that a handful of boys have taken to making parody VSCOs, or just typing “vsco” in their Instagram bios, where a VSCO link would typically sit. The links are crucial to VSCO’s popularity with young people, because it’s a surefire way to get others to check out your account and appreciate how artsy you are.

The teen girl’s VSCO holds pictures that wouldn’t always make the cut for Instagram, typically more lifestyle photos. Maybe your account is a simple feed of only black and white photos. Maybe it’s the familiar array of food shots, Starbucks cups, and fresh manicures. We’ve all seen those accounts filled with blurry party photos or grainy mirror pics. Some grids are just straight-up shrines for selfies. Clearly everyone has a distinct VSCO style.

Sure it’s basic, and everyone seems to have one, but what’s wrong with a little creative outlet like VSCO? At its core, photography is an art form, as much as modern technology has dumbed it down. Every decision, from the subject of your picture, to the angle of the shot, to the filter picked, is a distinct choice. VSCO and other photo apps like Instagram are forms of self expression that do take creativity.

So feel no shame in your journey towards achieving artsiness. Snap pictures of your friends laughing, your fall outfit, or that killer sunset. Maybe one day, you’ll have made the perfect grid: crisp, interesting pictures, not too show-offy, and of course a consistent color theme. A true VSCO masterpiece.