VSCO, which rhymes with disco, and stands for Visual Supply Company, is an art and technology company based in Oakland, CA. This Viewfinder feature explores their mission of empowering and nurturing the creative community.

Published on March 28, 2015 by Mo Mfinanga

Headshots provided by VSCO

Joel Flory
Co-Founder & CEO

A natural leader, Flory provides a vision and business savviness to VSCO. Joel understands the complex nature of building and sustaining a brand in the creative industry. A foodie and serious Oakland A’s baseball enthusiast, Flory is passionate about the combination of art and technology. Joel received his degree in Industrial Technology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Before Co-Founding VSCO, Flory was a successful commercial and wedding photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Greg Lutze
Co-Founder & CCO

An idealist, Lutze is passionate about the intersection of art and technology. Driven by the desire to honor art and artists, Lutze brings creative soul and vision to VSCO. A Chelsea FC supporter and avid bookworm, Lutze received his degree in Business Marketing from George Fox University. Before Co-Founding VSCO, Lutze worked as Creative Director for design agencies in Seattle and New York. 


From its inception, in 2011, VSCO has injected an unwavering dedication towards valuing, empowering and celebrating the creative life. Founders Greg Lutze and Joel Flory, binded by like-minded philosophies, recognise the importance of quality and beauty; two attributes that tune the foundation of VSCO’s instruments. This allows VSCO to “play a part in redefining how people see the world,” says VSCO co-founder and CEO Joel Flory. Encouraging and equipping the creative community to create something beautiful is a required ingredient in VSCO’s recipe.

For VSCO, Flory says that “nothing has come easily.” He explains, “We had no funding when we started, just a massive vision and the grit to keep moving forward despite many obstacles. Magazines make running your own company sound glamorous, but in reality, it’s anything but that. Every day brings a new problem: It’s overcoming those problems together as a team that give you strength and the ability to face tomorrow’s challenges. All of this would fall apart if our team didn’t fight to stay united and we didn’t have a grand vision for VSCO.”    

As a team, and more importantly, a community, VSCO has been able to raise a $40 million Series A round from Accel Partners. This allows them “to enhance community experience” with its $1 million Artist Initiative scholarship, in addition to building out new offices in Oakland, CA, Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City.

Building out new offices supports how their environments impact their work. Flory says that “in order to create beautiful things, you must place a value on beautiful surroundings. We have offices in Oakland, Colorado Springs, and New York City. They all have slightly different feels, but the end goal is the same: Create an atmosphere that fosters beauty, creativity, and community.”

What began as a tool for professional photographers has now grown into an instrument used in the everyday lives of modern creatives. This instrument, known as VSCO Cam®, has become a standard for mobile photography, enabling users to craft and share beautiful imagery. By sharing this imagery, users are allowed to showcase and discover work via VSCO Grid℠, a minimalist photo publishing platform that highlights VSCO’s celebration of creativity.

VSCO Cam on the iPad

VSCO Cam on the iPad


VSCO dismisses the notion of viewing artists as a commodity. VSCO Co-Founder and CCO Greg Lutze mentions that “we view VSCO as part of the creative community—not above it. We create things for ‘all of us’; for the love of art and artists, and being part of something larger than any one person or company.” Lutze continues to explain that “we create daily Journal features on artists from around the world, we connect creatives with other brands to create original content, and we put on gallery events for artists, all because we believe this is the right thing to do.

VSCO has compelled the likes of companies such as FADER Magazine to inject their stories and images into VSCO’s Journal, an extension of VSCO Cam, which allows users to parallel long-formed content with visual imagery. Geordie Wood, FADER’s photo director and past Emmazed interviewee, mentions that “VSCO is a natural place for us to show our work and to share the work with a greater community…I think there’s innumerable possibilities for how we can recontextualize the work that we’ve been doing.” These partnerships allow VSCO to unify the creative community by aligning its core values with like-minded companies.

By partnering with companies such as Burberry, Levi's, and GAP, the notion of creative satisfaction may linger. However, Lutze emphasizes that “we are never satisfied. The moment you feel you’ve made it is the same moment you’ve lost.”

From empowering tens of millions with VSCO Cam, to partnering with Levi's, the decision to ignite such possibilities begs to be questioned. Lutze answers, “From the beginning, we have done things just a bit differently with a creative-first mindset. All decisions are made through the lens of ‘how will this be good for the creative community?’ We set out to build something we loved, and things grew and progressed out of that." He went on to say, “Ultimately, the path towards creating VSCO started and ends with passion—we are part of this art movement because it is a part of who we are, and it is what we love.” 

It’s been an incredible pleasure and honor to witness the profound growth of VSCO over the past two years. Coming from a simple joint venture amongst friends, to a budding empire contributing towards the creative community, VSCO tenaciously inspires millions to value and celebrate the creative life.



Christina Rouse, VSCO's Senior Journal Editor, on how she reflects her personal values through VSCO:


VSCO is a company whose mission is a natural extension of our personal passion for creativity, namely through photography. Because of this, we feel a deep sense of ownership and connectedness to our work, and the personal values we hold as individuals are then expressed through VSCO as a whole. 

I think a driven nature can be a valuable asset. Our team strives for excellence, setting the bar high for ourselves when it comes to the tools we make, the images we curate from VSCO Grid, and the content we share on the VSCO Journal. We aim for perfection and try to right our wrongs when we fall short. 

In addition to valuing hard work, I believe in kindness and humility. We have an extremely talented team of people who work at VSCO, but what’s even more special is the dynamic of friendship and camaraderie we share. As we interact amongst ourselves and with our community, we aim to be encouraging and positive. We never want to lose the mindset that there’s always something new to learn and room for improvement. 

I believe that a grateful heart makes for a richer life. At VSCO, we’re so thankful for the community that has supported us, and I hope that our appreciation comes across in our efforts to promote creatives on the Journal and better enable them to succeed through our Artist Initiative program.


I rounded up prolific VSCO users to answer how and why using VSCO's tools benefit their work and workflow.


Hannah Anderson

When it comes to processing and showcasing a photo, I never want to over-complicate anything. The photos that I take are usually of everyday happenings so I love to have a clean, natural feel. With VSCO, I'm able to do that because it's incredibly easy to use and perfects your photograph while still keeping the integrity of the original photo.

Joshua Anderson

Every photo deserves to be presented in the best way possible, even if it is just going on your Instagram or Tumblr page. I think creating an emotion that someone can feel for that second while swiping by is the reason I do what I do. I use VSCO because it does a good job at letting me say what I need to through my images—keeping it simple, beautiful and very easy to use. Whether it's on my phone or my laptop, I can finely tune my images to be the best they can be.

Jerry Buttles

Using VSCO's tools has become second hand for me because of how user friendly it is. I like to do the least amount of editing to my images and let them speak for themselves. It's all about light and subject. Period. And VSCO Film allows me to express that. The app is wonderful; I use it everyday. I believe it is the best app for photo processing.

Thomas Cadrin

VSCO Cam is always my go to application whenever I'm shooting with my phone. Whether it's the subtle filters or the streamlined interface, VSCO Cam is always doing exactly what I need it to do, and quickly. Combine all these tools with the integration of the Grid & the Journal, and VSCO Cam becomes not just another tool in the toolbox, but also a constant source of inspiration.

Chris Cody

I use VSCO Cam because it makes editing simple. It's quick and powerful and delivers consistent results that are incomparable to other editing apps. VSCO Cam made mobile photography what it is, and they are constantly pushing the envelope, making their product better.

Jeremiah Cowan

I would say that VSCO nails a crisp, nostalgic aesthetic. As an editing app, it is not too much but it is also not too little. Having a variance of filters that each correspond to a different film stock really helps when editing a photo. I am not limited to just one filter. The tools themselves help bring the photo to life. They help enhance the image by increasing contrast or changing the mood with the color temperature tool. VSCO has helped my work become unique.

Ike Edeani

VSCO Cam has some really well thought out tools that allow me to quickly and easily get my mobile photographs looking their best. Beyond the wide range of presets, it’s the fine-tuned controls for things like exposure, contrast and sharpness that really make the difference for me.

Christopher Hainey

When getting into photography, I spent the first few years shooting solely on film, so I very much appreciate VSCO for preserving all those subtle intricacies for future photographers. VSCO Film and VSCO Cam are both essential parts of my editing workflow. I utilize them both for nearly all of the photos I publish online. When I use them, I often discover something about an image of mine that didn't make itself known to me before, which makes the editing of an image so exciting. It rivals the feeling of pressing the shutter and capturing it in the first place.

Melody Hansen

I like to envision the final result of a photo before I edit it, and using VSCO allows me to bring that vision to life. Every photo is able to have its own unique feel and I like that. There are so many options when editing, which lets me develop my own style and gives me the freedom to experiment—with color, especially.

Lauren Marek

When I take photos, I'm immediately imagining how the final image will look—VSCO gets me there.

Kevin Russ

Since most of my work is shot with the iPhone, I use VSCO's stuff on all of my work. The entire look, feel of my photos are enhanced by VSCO presets. Their Artist Initiative helped me make my first ever book.

Chris Schoonover

I use VSCO Film with Lightroom for every shoot that I do. I don't always know how I want to edit a set of photos, so it's easy to scroll through the list of films and narrow it down. I have a few Portra Films that I use pretty consistently. Usually, I'll place a filter, make a few small adjustments with grain and curves and I'm all set. Films have made editing so easy. I feel the same way about VSCO Cam. There are tons of different subtle filter options, but I've narrowed it down to a few that I use all the time. I haven't used another photo editing app in well over a year.

Jonathan Schoonover

VSCO provides me with really useful tools for my editing on a desktop as well as on my phone. The integration of the VSCO presets in Lightroom makes it easier for me to cycle through possible color edits of photographs I'm working on. They are very easy to tweak and personalize; they allow me to get a film look while keeping the quality of the original image. The VSCO filters are integral in my workflow. As for mobile, the VSCO Cam app allows me to edit with subtlety that you can't get with other apps.

Marcus Smith

VSCO's tools really helped me streamline my editing process, which allowed me to apply the look I've always wanted in my photos in a fast manner. Being able to manage various looks streamlined a process that used to take me a long time to work on.

Atle Rønningen

For me, photo processing has to be simple and done quickly with a subtle result that doesn't alter the natural colors and light. On my mobile phone, I use VSCO Cam to achieve this. I also love telling stories and often end up with a set of photos to edit. The new “copy & paste” feature in VSCO Cam comes in handy for efficient batch editing, as well as give me a consistent result. For others to see the beauty that surrounds us, I share my photos and stories directly from the app to the VSCO Grid and Journal.

This is only the beginning. We’ve only just begun. The past couple years have been laying a foundation for what comes next.
— Joel Flory