Glass 365 Days Later

(Wintertime Rush by Christopher Parsons)

I’ve been actively using Glass for about a full year now. Glass is a photo sharing site where users must pay either a monthly or yearly fee; it costs to post but viewing is free.

I publish a photo almost every day and I regularly go through the community to view other folks’ photos and comment on them. In this short review I want to identify what’s great about the service, what’s so-so, and where there’s still room to grow. All the images in this blog post were previously posted to Glass.

Let me cut to the chase: I like the service and have resubscribed for another full year.

The Good

The iOS mobile client was great at launch and it remains terrific. It’s fast and easy to use, and beats all the other social platforms’ apps that I’ve used because it is so simple and functional. You can’t edit your images in the Glass app and I’m entirely fine with that.

(Fix, Found by Christopher Parsons)

The community is delightful from my perspective. The comments I get are all thoughtful and the requirement to pay-to-post means that there aren’t (yet) any trolls that I’ve come across. Does this mean the community is smaller? Definitely. But is it a more committed and friendly community? You bet. Give me quality over quantity any day of the week.

All subscribers have the option to have a public facing profile, which anyone can view, or ones that are restricted to just other subscribers. I find the public profiles to be pretty attractive and good at arranging photos, especially when accessing a profile on a wide-screen device (e.g. a laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone in landscape).

The platform launched as iPhone only, to start, though has been expanding since then. The iPad client is a joy to use and the developers have an Android client on their roadmap. A Windows application is available and you can use the service on the web too.

(Birthday Pose by Christopher Parsons)

Other things that I really appreciate: Glass has a terrifically responsive development team. There are about 50 community requests that have been implemented since launch; while some are just for bugs, most are for updates to the platform. Glass is also the opposite of the traditional roach-motel social media platform. You can download your photos from the site at any time; you’re paying for the service, not for surveillance. That’s great!

The So-So

So is Glass perfect then? No. It has only a small handful of developers as compared to competitors like Instagram or Vero which means that some overdue features are still in development.

(‘Til Pandemic Does Us Part by Christopher Parsons)

A core critique is there is no Android application. That’s fair! However, iOS users are more likely to spend money on apps so it made economic sense to prioritize that user base.1 Fortunately an Android application is on its way and a Windows version was recently released.

A more serious issue for existing users is an inability to ‘tag’ photos. While photos can be assigned to categories in the application (and more categories have been added over time) that means it’s hard to have the customization of bigger sites like Flickr. The result is that discovery is more challenging and it’s harder to build up a set of metadata that could be used in the future for presenting photos. Glass, currently, is meant to provide a linear feed of photos—that’s part of its charm!—but more sophisticated methods of even displaying images on users’ portfolios in the future may require the company to adopt a tagging system. Why does it matter that there is or isn’t one, today? Because for heavier users2 re-viewing and tagging all photos will be a royal pain in the butt, if that ever is something that is integrated into the platform.

(Tall and Proud by Christopher Parsons)

If you’re looking to use Glass as a formal portfolio, well, there are almost certainly better services and platforms you should rely upon. Which is to say: the platform does not let you create albums or pin certain photos to the top of your profile. I entirely get that the developers are aiming for a simple service at launch, but would also appreciate the ability to better categorize some of my photos. In particular, I would like to create things such as:

  • Best of a given year
  • Having albums that break up street versus landscape versus cityscape images
  • Being able to create albums for specific events, such as particular vacations or documentary events
  • Photos that I generally think are amongst my ‘best’ overall

This being said, albums and portfolios are in the planning stages. I look forward to seeing what is ultimately released.

(Public Praise by Christopher Parsons)

As much as I like the community as it stands today, I would really like the developers to add some small or basic things. Like threaded comments. They’re coming, at some point, after discovery features are integrated (e.g., search by location, by camera, etc.). Still, as it stands today, the lack of even 2-levels of threaded comments means that active conversations are annoying to follow.

Finally, Glass is really what you make of it. If you’re a photographer who wants to just add photos and never engage with the community then I’d imagine it’s not as good as a platform such as Instagram or Vero. Both of the latter apps have larger user bases and you’re more likely to get the equivalent of a like; I don’t know how large Glass’ user-base is but it’s not huge despite being much larger than at launch. However, if you’re active in the community then I think that you can get more positive, or helpful, feedback than on other platforms. At least for me, as a very enthusiastic amateur photographer, the engagement I get on Glass is remarkably more meaningful than on any other platform on which I’ve shared my photographs.

The Bad

Honestly, the worst part about Glass is still discoverability.3 You can see a semi-random set of photographers using the service which isn’t bad…except that some of them may not have posted anything to the platform for months or even a year. I have no idea why this is the case.

(Stephanie by Christopher Parsons)

The only other way to discover other photographers is to regularly dig through the different photography categories, and ‘appreciate’4 photos you see and follow the photographers who appeal to your tastes. This isn’t terrible, but it’s the ‘best’ way of discovering photos and really isn’t great. While the company ‘highlightsphotographers on the Glass website and through its Twitter feed, the equivalent curation still doesn’t exist in the application itself. That’s non-ideal.

The developers have promised that additional discovery functions will be rolling out. They intend enable search by camera type or location, but thus far nothing’s been released. They’ve been good at slowly and deliberately releasing features, and new features have always been thoughtful when implemented, so I’m hopeful that when discoverability is updated it’ll be pretty good. Until then, however, it’s frankly pretty bad.

(Lonely Traveller by Christopher Parsons)

If I were to find a second thing that’s missing, to date, it would be that there’s no way of embedding Glass images in other CMSes. The platform does support RSS, which I appreciate, but I want the platform to offer full-on embeds so I can easily cross post images to other web spaces (like this blog!). Embeds could, also, have some language/links that ultimately let viewers sign up for the service as a way of growing the subscriber base.

The third thing that I wish Glass would enable a way of assessing if a photo has already been uploaded. At this point I’ve uploaded over 300 photos and I want to ensure that I don’t accidentally upload a duplicate. This is definitely a problem associated with those who use the service more heavily, but will become a more prominent issue as users ‘live’ on the platform for more and more years.


So, at the end of a year, what do I think of Glass?

First, I think that it truly is a photography community for photographers. It isn’t trying to be a broader social network that lets you share what music you’re listening to, or TV shows and movies you’re watching, or books you’ve finished, or temporary stories or images. There is totally a space for a network like that but it’s not Glass and I’m fine with it being a simpler and more direct kind of platform.

(Night Light by Christopher Parsons)

Second, it is a platform with active developers and a friendly community. Both of those things are pretty great. And the developers have a clear and opinionated sense of taste: they’re creating a beautiful application and associated service. There’s real value in the aesthetic for me.

Third, it’s not quite the place to showcase your work, today, if you are trying to semi-professionally market your photography. There are no albums or other ways of highlighting or collecting your images. Glass is much closer to the original version of Instagram in just presenting a feed of historical images instead of a contemporary service like Flickr or even Instagram. And…that’s actually a pretty great thing! That said, the roadmap includes commitments to enabling better highlighting/collecting of images. This will be increasingly important as more people upload more photographs to the service.

(Supervisory Assistance by Christopher Parsons)

Fourth, it’s still relatively cheap as compared to other paid offerings. It is less than half the cost of a Flickr Pro account, as just one example. And there are no ads for subscribers or for individuals who are browsing public profiles and associated portfolios.

(Distressed by Christopher Parsons)

So, in conclusion, I’d strongly suggest trying out Glass if you’re a committed and enthusiastic amateur. It’s not the same as Instagram or Instagram clones. That’s both part of the point and part of the magic of the platform that the Glass team is creating and incubating.

  1. Yes, you might be willing to pay money, dear reader, but you’re statistically deviant. In a good way! ↩︎
  2. Such as myself… ↩︎
  3. The developers are, also, very well aware of this issue. ↩︎
  4. Glass does not have ‘likes’ per se, but lets users click an ‘appreciation’ button. Appreciations are only ever sent to the photographer and are not accumulated numerically to be presented to either the public or the photographer who uploaded the photograph. ↩︎


A couple thoughts after shooting with the iPhone 14 Pro for a day, as an amateur photographer coming from an iPhone 12 Pro and who also uses a Ricoh GR and Fuji X100F.

  1. The 48 megapixel 24mm (equiv.) lens is nearly useless for street photography, when capturing images at 48 megapixels. It takes 1+ seconds to capture an image at this resolution. That’s not great for trying to catch a subject or scene at just the right moment. (To me, this says very, very bad things about what Apple Silicon can actually do.) Set the captured resolution to 12 megapixels in ProRAW if you’re shooting fast-moving or fast-changing subjects/scenes.
  2. The 78mm (equiv.) telephoto is pretty great. It really opens a new way of seeing the world for me. I also think it’s great for starting street photographers who aren’t comfortable being as close as 28mm or 35mm might require.
  3. The new form factor means the MagSafe-compatible battery I use doesn’t fit. Which was a pretty big surprise and leads into item 4…
  4. Capturing 48 megapixel images, at full resolution, while using your phone in bright daylight (and thus raising the screen to full brightness), absolutely destroys battery life. Which means you’re likely to need a battery pack to charge your phone during extended photoshoots. Make sure you choose one that’s the right size!
  5. I like the ability to use the photographic styles. But it really sucks that you can’t see what effect they’d have on monochrome/black and white images. I shoot 95-99% in monochrome; this is likely less of an issue for other folks.
  6. The camera app desperately needs an update and reorganization. It is kludgy and a pain in the ass to use if you need to change settings quickly on the street. Do. Not. Like. It’s embarrassing Apple continues to ship such a poor application.

I haven’t taken the phone out to shoot extensively at night, though some staged shots at home at night showcase how much better night mode is compared to that in the iPhone 12 Pro.

Anyway, early thoughts. More complete ones will follow in the coming week or so.



Fungi by Christopher Parsons

After spending far too much time agonizing over what to get printed I finally put in an order for 21 prints. Most are black and white from the past 2-3 years, and will be used to create 1-2 gallery walls and refresh another wall.

Untitled by Christopher Parsons

I’m looking forward to getting them through I’m working with a new printer so have some minor degrees of anxiety over what I’ll end up with. I’ve generally had good luck with local printers but the past few personal photo books I’ve had printed (albeit from international companies) have been disappointing when I’ve gotten them in my hands.

The next step will be to purchase a raft of frames for all the prints. And then, finally, actually add them all to my walls!

Thoughts on Developing My Street Photography

(Dead Ends by Christopher Parsons)

For the past several years I’ve created a ‘best of’ album that summarizes the year’s best photos that I made. I use the yearly album to assess how my photography has changed and what, if any, changes are common across those images. The process of making these albums and then printing them forces me to look at my images, how they work against one another, and better understand what I learned over the course of taking photos for a year.

I have lots of favourite photographs but what I’ve learned the most, at least over the past few years, is to ignore a lot of the information and ‘tips’ that are often shared about street photography. Note that the reason to avoid ignore them is not because they are wrong per se, or that photographers shouldn’t adopt them, but because they don’t work for how I prefer to engage in street photography.

I Don’t Do ‘Stealth’ Photography

Probably the key tip that I generally set to the side is that you should be stealthy, sneaky, or otherwise hidden from the subjects in the photos that I capture. It’s pretty common for me to see a scene and wait with my camera to my eye until the right subjects enter the scene and are positioned where I want them in my frame. Sometimes that means that people will avoid me and the scene and other times they’ll clearly indicate that they don’t want to have their photo taken. In these cases the subject is communicating their preferences quite clearly and I won’t take their photograph. It’s just an ethical line I don’t want to cross.

(Winter Troop by Christopher Parsons)

In yet other instances, my subjects will be looking right at me as they pass through the scene. They’re often somewhat curious. And in many situations they stop and ask me what I’m taking photos of, and then a short conversation follows. In an odd handful of situations they’ve asked me to send along an image I captured of them or a link to my photos; to date, I’ve had pretty few ‘bad’ encounters while shooting on the streets.

I Don’t Imitate Others

I’ve spent a lot of time learning about classic photographers over the past couple years. I’ve been particularly drawn to black and white street photography, in part because I think it often has a timeless character and because it forces me to more carefully think about positioning a subject so they stand out.

(Working Man by Christopher Parsons)

This being said, I don’t think that I’m directly imitating anyone else. I shoot with a set of focal ranges and periodically mix up the device I’m capturing images on; last year, a bulk of my favourite photos came from an intensive two week photography vacation where I forced myself to walk extensively and just use an iPhone 12 Pro. Photos that I’m taking, this year, have largely been with a Fuji X100F and some custom jpg recipes that generally produce results that I appreciate.

Don’t get me wrong: in seeing some of the photos of the greats (and less greats and less well-knows) I draw inspiration from the kinds of images they make, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone out to try and make images like theirs. This differs from when I started taking shots in my city, and when I wanted to make images that looked similar to the ‘popular’ shots I was seeing. I still appreciate those images but they’re not what I want to make these days.

I Create For Myself

While I don’t think that I’m alone in this, the images that I make are principally for myself. I share some of those images but, really, I just want to get out and walk through my environment. I find the process of slowing down to look for instances of interest and beauty help ground me.

Because I tend to walk within the same 10-15km radius of my home, I have a pretty good sense of how neighbourhoods are changing. I can see my city changing on a week to week basis, and feel more in tune with what’s really happening based on my observations. My photography makes me very present in my surroundings.

(Dark Sides by Christopher Parsons)

I also tend to use my walks to both cover new ground and, also, go into back alleys, behind sheds, and generally in the corners of the city that are less apparent unless you’re looking for them. Much of the time there’s nothing particularly interesting to photograph in those spaces. But, sometimes, something novel or unique emerges.

Change Is Normal

For the past year or so, a large volume (95% or more) of my images have been black and white. That hasn’t always been the case! But I decided I wanted to lean into this mode of capturing images to develop a particular set of skills and get used to seeing—and visualizing—scenes and subjects monochromatically.

But my focus on black and white images, as well as images that predominantly include human subjects, is relatively new: if I look at my images from just a few years ago there was a lot of colour and stark, or empty, cityscapes. I don’t dislike those images and, in fact, several remain amongst my favourite images I’ve made to date. But I also don’t want to be constrained by one way of looking at the world. The world is too multifaceted, and there’s too many ways of imagining it, to be stuck permanently in one way of capturing it.

(Alley Figures by Christopher Parsons)

This said, over time, I’d like to imagine I might develop a way of seeing the world and capturing images that provides a common visual language across my images. Though if that never happens I’m ok with that, so long as the very practice of photography continues to provide the dividends of better understanding my surroundings and feeling in tune with wherever I’m living at the time.

Hopes for WWDC 2022

(Judgement by Christopher Parsons)

Apple’s Word Wide Developer Conference starts tomorrow and we can all expect a bunch of updates to Apple’s operating systems and, if we’re lucky, some new hardware. In no particular order, here are some things I want updated in iOS applications and, ideally, that developers could hook into as well.


  • The ability to search photos by different cameras and/or focal lengths
  • The ability to select a point on a photo to set the white point for exposure balancing when editing photos
  • Better/faster sync across devices
  • Enable ability to edit geolocation
  • Enable tags in photos


  • Working (virtual) spirit level!
  • Set burst mode to activate by holding the shutter button; this was how things used to be and I want the option to go back to the way things were!
  • Advanced metering modes, such as the ability to set center, multi-zone, spot, and expose for highlights!
  • Set and forget auto-focus points in the frame; not focus lock, but focus zones
  • Zone focusing


  • Ability to collaborate on a guide
  • Option to select who’s restaurant data is running underneath the app (I never will install Yelp which is the current app linked in Maps)


  • Ability to collaborate on a playlist
  • Have multiple libraries: I want one ‘primary’ or ‘all albums’ and others with selected albums. I do not want to just make playlists


  • Speed up sync across shared reminders; this matters for things like shared grocery shopping! 1
  • Integrate reminders’ date/time in calendar, as well as with whom reminders are shared


  • Emoji reactions
  • Integration with Giphy!


  • When I block a publication actually block it instead of giving me the option to see stories from publications I’ve blocked
  • It’d be great to see News updated so I can add my own RSS feeds


  • Need ability to have off days; when sick or travelling or something it can be impossible to maintain streaks which is incredibly frustrating if you regularly live a semi-active life


  • Show long-term data (e.g. year vs year vs year) in a user friendly way; currently this requires third-party apps and should be default and native

Of course, I’d also love to see Apple announce a new MacBook Air. I need a new laptop but don’t want to get one that’s about to be deprecated and just don’t need the power of the MacBook Pro line. Here’s hoping Apple makes this announcement next week!

  1. In general I want iCloud to sync things a hella lot faster! ↩︎

‘Glass Time’ Shortcut

man people woman iphone
Photo by Ron Lach on

Like most photographers I edit my images with the brightness on my screen set to its maximum. Outside of specialized activities, however, I and others don’t tend to set the brightness this high so as to conserve battery power.

The result is that when we, as photographers, as well as members of the viewing public tend to look images on photography platforms we often aren’t seeing them as their creator(s) envisioned. The images are, quite starkly, darker on our screens than on those of the photographers who made them.1

For the past few months whenever I’ve opened Glass or looked at photos on other platforms I’m made an effort to ensure that I’ve maximized the brightness on my devices as I’ve opened the app. This said, I still forget sometimes and only realize halfway through a viewing session. So I went about ensuring this ‘mistake’ didn’t happen any more by creating a Shortcut called ‘Glass Time’!

The Shortcut is pretty simple: when I run it, it maximizes the brightness of my iOS device and opens the Glass app. If you download the Shortcut it’s pretty easy to modify it to instead open a different application (e.g., Instagram, 500px, Flickr, etc). It’s definitely improved my experiences using the app and helped me to better appreciate the images that are shared by individuals on the platform.

Download ‘Glass Time’ Shortcut

  1. Of course there are also issues associated with different devices having variable maximum brightness and colour profiles. These kinds of differences are largely intractable in the current technical milieu. ↩︎

Glass and Community

(New Heights by Christopher Parsons)

The founders of the photography application, Glass, were recently on Protocol’s Source Code. Part of what they emphasized, time and time again, was the importance of developing a positive community where photographers interacted with one another.

Glass continues to be the place where I’m most comfortable sharing my images. I really don’t care about how many people ‘appreciate’ a photo and I’m never going to be a photographic influencer. But I do like being in a community where I’m surrounded by helpful photographers, and where I’m regularly inspired by the work of other photographers.

Indeed, just today one of the photographers I most respect posted an image that I found really spectacular and we had a brief back and forth about what I saw/emotions it evoked, and his reaction to my experience of it. I routinely have these kinds of positive and meaningful back-and-forths on Glass. That’s not to say that similar experiences don’t, and can’t, occur on other companies’ platforms! But, from my own point of view, Glass is definitely creating the experiences that the developers are aiming for.

I also think that the developers of Glass are serious in their commitment to taking ideas from their community. I’d proposed via their ticketing system that they find a way of showcasing the excellent blog content that they’re producing, and that’s now on their roadmap for the application.

It’s also apparent that the developers, themselves, are involved in the application and watching what people are posting to showcase great work. They’ve routinely had excellent and interesting interviews with photographers on the platform, as well as highlighted photos that they found interesting each month in the categories that they have focused on (in interests of disclosure, one of my photos was included in their Cityscapes collection).

These are, admittedly, the kinds of features and activities that you’d hope developers to roll out and emphasize as they build a photography application and grow its associated community. Even the developers of Instagram, when it was still a sub-10 person shop were pretty involved in their community! I can only hope that Glass never turns into their Meta ‘competitor’!

Improving My Photography In 2021

(Climbing Gear by Christopher Parsons)

I’ve spent a lot of personal time behind my cameras throughout 2021 and have taken a bunch of shots that I really like. At the same time, I’ve invested a lot of personal time learning more about the history of photography and how to accomplish things with my cameras. Below, in no particular order, is a list of the ways I worked to improve my photography in 2021.

Fuji Recipes

I started looking at different ‘recipes’ that I could use for my Fuji x100f, starting with those at Fuji X Weekly and some YouTube channels. I’ve since started playing around with my own black and white recipes to get a better sense of what works for making my own images. The goal in all of this is to create jpgs that are ‘done’ in body and require an absolute minimum amount of adjustment. It’s very much a work in progress, but I’ve gotten to the point that most of my photos only receive minor crops, as opposed to extensive edits in Darkroom.

Comfort in Street Photography

The first real memory I have of ‘doing’ street photography was being confronted by a bus driver after I took his photo. I was scared off of taking pictures of other people for years as a result.

Over the past year, however, I’ve gotten more comfortable by watching a lot of POV-style YouTube videos of how other street photographers go about making their images. I don’t have anyone else to go an shoot with, and learn from, so these videos have been essential to my learning process. In particular, I’ve learned a lot from watching and listening to Faizal Westcott, the folks over at Framelines, Joe Allan, Mattias Burling, and Samuel Lintaro Hopf.

Moreover, just seeing the photos that other photographers are making and how they move in the street has helped to validate that what I’m doing, when I go out, definitely fits within the broader genre of street photography.

Histories of Photography

In the latter three months of 2021 I spent an enormous amount of time watching videos from the Art of Photography, Tatiana Hopper, and a bit from Sean Tucker. The result is that I’m developing a better sense of what you can do with a camera as well as why certain images are iconic or meaningful.

Pocket Camera Investment

I really love my Fuji x100f and always have my iPhone 12 Pro in my pocket. Both are terrific cameras. However, I wanted something that was smaller than the Fuji and more tactile than the iPhone, and which I could always have in a jacket pocket.

To that end, in late 2021 I purchase a very lightly used Ricoh GR. While I haven’t used it enough to offer a full review of it I have taken a lot of photos with it that I really, really like. More than anything else I’m taking more photos since buying it because I always have a good, very tactile, camera with me wherever I go.

Getting Off Instagram

I’m not a particularly big fan of Instagram these days given Facebook’s unwillingness or inability to moderate its platform, as well as Instagram’s constant addition of advertisements and short video clips. So since October 2021 I’ve been posting my photos almost exclusively to Glass and (admittedly to a lesser extent) to this website.

Not only is the interface for posting to Glass a lot better than the one for Instagram (and Flickr, as well), the comments I get on my photos on Glass are better than anywhere else I’ve ever posted my images. Admittedly Glass still has some growing pains but I’m excited to see how it develops in the coming year.

Glass in 2022


I’ve been primarily posting my photos to Glass for about three months now. There have been several quality of life improvements1 but, on the whole, the app has been pretty true to its original DNA.

That’s been a bit frustrating for some folks, such as Matt Birchler. He notes that Glass seems to be populated by professional photographers and lacks the life and diversity that you can sometimes find on Instagram or other photography sites. I was particularly struck by his comment that, “I used to enjoy the feed because it was high quality stuff, but now I scroll and everyone is making photos that look like every else’s.”

I don’t discount that Matt’s experience has been seeing a lot of professionals making photos but have to admit that his experiences don’t really parallel my own. To be clear, the photographers that I follow are doing neat work and some are definitely serious amateurs or professionals. But perhaps because I’m more focused on street photography it’s rarely self-apparent to me that I’m following professionals versus amateurs, nor that everyone’s work looks the same.

That being said, I definitely do follow a lot fewer people on Glass. If I have a problem with the app it’s that discovering active photographers on the platform is difficult; a lot of people signed up for the trial period but aren’t regularly posting. The result is that it’s hard to develop an active stream of photos and a photographic community. At the same time, however, I don’t browse the Glass app like I would Instagram: I pop in once or twice a day, and try to set aside some time every day or three (or four…) to leave comments on others photographers’ work. I treat Glass more seriously than free photography applications, if only because I have (thus far) only has positive experiences with the other active photographers posting their work there.

The only other problem I have with Glass—annoyance really!—is that I think that you actually can see/display photographers’ profiles in a much more beautiful way on non-phone devices. The image for this post was a screen capture from my iPad which attractively lays out photos. In contrast, you just get a flat waterfall of images if you visit my profile in the Glass app itself. That’s a shame and hopefully something that is improved upon in 2022.

To date I’m happy with Glass and incredibly pleased to no longer posting my photos to a Facebook platform. I really hope that Glass’s developers are able to maintain the app going forward, which will almost certainly depend in part on building the community and enhancing discoverability.

I’m currently planning to continue posting my work to Glass regularly. Even if the service doesn’t explode (which would be fine for me, though probably not great for its long term survival!) I find that the comments that I receive are far more valuable than anything I tended to receive on Instagram or other social sites, and the actual process of posting is also a comparative breeze and joy. If you’re looking for a neat photography site to try out, I heartily recommend that you give Glass a shot!

  1. Specifically, the developers have added some photography categories and public profiles, as well as the ability to ‘appreciate’ photos and comments ↩︎