The Inspiration of How The Vibrantly Filters Were Created

I LOVE taking food photos on my iPhone! Been snapping away since the 3GS in 2009.

Truthfully, I’m kinda obsessed. The upside to that obsession is that it led to the idea for Vibrantly.

I created Vibrantly because I wanted a way to create stunning food photos in one tap like what you can do on Instagram. My goal is for Vibrantly to be able to edit iPhone pics at  Pinterest-level kinda good which is a pretty high bar if you are an avid food pinner.

With Vibrantly, in one tap, your ice cream shots will look bright and creamy. Your turkey burger will look juicy like IRL, and your friends will be able to see the details in the nori and eel in your beautiful Dragon Sushi Roll.

Here is the back story on how the Vibrantly photo fliters came to be and what the inspiration was behind each of the filters because it’s a fascinating story about how apps are developed and how I wanted to create an experience that makes you feel creative and happy.

I myself learned so much during the process of creating the first phase of Vibrantly that I thought it would be fun to share since most developers don’t tend to let people peek into the app kitchen often.

Vibrantly was born out of my frustration as a food blogger having to use 1-3 mobile photo apps like Camera+, Snapseed, and Photoshop Express to edit my food pics, or saving the photos on my laptop and using Photoshop and PicMonkey to edit. I wanted my food photos to get the Stephanie-look in one tap so I could spend more time eating and focusing on my friends than looking like an obnoxious iPhone foodie editing photos on her phone.

Vibrantly saves you time.

What used to take me 90 minutes to do in photo editing now takes me 10 minutes.

I cannot code my way out of a paper bag, but I am an artist (writer, photographer, cook), a designer ( I have a BS in Industrial Technology: Product Design), and I have a good idea for look and feel. Plus, I used to work in the 3D graphics and the gaming industry at NVIDIA. That experience understanding how computer games are made helped me in the development of Vibrantly.

One of the key things before building this app was finding the right developer to work with. This is everything because if you don’t mesh, the magic cannot happen. I found Lavacado via looking at photo-editing apps I liked and looked up who the developer was. Lavacado has built apps for Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Trey is one of the best HDR photographers in the world. The app that caught my eye was 100 in 1 Cameras.

Right away, I felt a good synergy between myself and the guys at Lavacado, and although it took awhile to get started on my part, we ended up actually starting at THE perfect time. We started working on Vibrantly literally the day Apple announced iOS7 in June. Really, the timing could not have been more perfect!

I am SO grateful that we could build Vibrantly integrating iOS7 features like the new look and feel plus Air Drop and texting photos straight from the app. I was blown away the first time I saw Vibrantly in iOS7.

Here were some of the challenges we had with the app:

High quality bar

The level of quality I was shooting for was Pinterest-level good looking. Now that is a really high bar especially for mobile photos. But hey, why not shoot for the moon, right? Food is one of the hottest categories on Pinterest, and the food photos on there are stunning.

To get pinned, repinned or better yet repinned by a top pinner, your food photos have to look Martha-Saveur-Food and Wine-level-approved or they have to be interesting as hell. I don’t know the exact numbers but by my guestimation most good food photos on Pinterest by top pinners are taken on DSLRs. I have rarely seen Instagram filtered photos on Pinterest mainly because Instagram does scenery, selfies, fashion, pets, and moody clouds really well, but not food.

With the Vibrantly filters, I was gunning for Pinterest-level hot looking because I thought how cool would that be if we could get top food bloggers and pinners to use Vibrantly edited photos for their pins. In version 1 of Vibrantly, I believe I got pretty darn close to that level, but we’re not quite there yet. BUT, I am confident we’ll get there real soon also because the camera on the iPhone is getting better with every generation.

The main reason the default cropping in Vibrantly is a rectangle, both portrait and landscape is because rectangle is the most commonly repinned shape on Pinterest. Rectangle for food photos also looks better on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr because you have more visual real estate.

Translating filter recipes 

When I started talking to Lavacdo, our original plan was for me to give them the recipes of how I made my photos look the way they do. Basically, each recipe was a step-by-step of which software I used and in what steps I created each look.

My favorite orange is the Cara Cara. I love it because it’s sweeter than your typical navel orange, and I love the deeper color of its flesh.

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