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Why Design Matters: Photosharing App Exposure Plans to Snap Flickr

Exposure is a photosharing website you'll want to keep an eye on. "Another photosharing app? Please. I've got Instagram," you might say. But hear this…


Exposure is a photosharing website you'll want to keep an eye on. "Another photosharing app? Please. I've got Instagram," you might say. But hear this out: in just a little over a month since their launch in early December, the site has now gained over 16,000 users (and steadily increasing, with a new subscriber every ten minutes) and has amassed over 140,000 photos uploaded to the site with more than one post created per minute. On top of this great traction, the site is also making revenue, quickly approaching 1,000 paying subscribers. That's really great traction by any standard.

What's driven Exposure's growth is its unique focus on "creating beautiful photo narratives." On the platform, users can add narrative text between their photos to tell a cohesive story from beginning to end. So far, the subject of photo collections uploaded have been diverse, ranging from photographs of a trip to Southwest Iceland to the documentation of a coffee roasting process.

"The current generation of photo sharing apps like Flickr, etc. just wasn't cutting it," said Luke Beard, one of the co-founders. Until Exposure, telling holistic stories through multiple photos was not possible or at best a clunky experience, and the creators felt that uploading a few photos here and there on Instagram felt unjust to the impactful and inspiring experiences they had while traveling. One existing option or alternative for many in the photography community was to upload to Flickr which, according to Beard, "is a minefield of stuff that isn't your photos."


In order to best tell these photo narratives, Exposure focuses on great design that doesn't get in the way of a user's photos. In that sense, Exposure is a bit like Medium, the writing platform that focuses on providing a well-designed space for writers. Exposure's laser focus on storytelling through photographs is what helps set it apart from other platforms and CMSes that are typically unfocused and can serve as a home for a mix of your Instagram shots, portfolio pieces, and haphazard blog posts (or cat gifs, in Tumblr's case). Instead of uploading your photographs to these free-for-all platforms, the creators of Exposure hope to create a truly dedicated home for them on the site.

Exposure operates on a subscription model, charging users either $5 per month for a "Plus" account or $9 per month for a "Pro" account, with a slight discount if you sign up for an annual subscription. Users who want to test-drive the product can do so by publishing up to three posts. The founders make a point of its business model on the site, stating that having a business model in place is not only a smart practice, but also future-proofs the product from being overridden by ads.

"We feel like there are a lot of companies that have this mindset about the 'VC business model' where you raise lots of money and sustain yourself through someone else's checkbook for a while...That's just a really uninteresting trajectory for us," said Kyle Bragger, another of Exposure's founders. The response has been positive, with new upgrade subscriptions rolling in steadily, an impressive feat in an environment where consumers are often hesitant to pay for app subscriptions.

Further cushioning the creation and launch of Exposure is the fact that it comes out of the incubator-studio Elepath, which was founded by Jake Lodwick of Vimeo and CollegeHumor fame. Exposure is Elepath's third major software release; previously the studio released apps Thinglist and Keezy. "Elepath provides the financial capital, infrastructure, and everything tangential to building great products and software," said Bragger. The studio essentially allows its product creators to not worry about nitty gritty things like paperwork and fundraising and instead focus on heads-down software creation, which is part of the reason why Exposure was able to be built in just a few months time frame.

Looking forward, the team hopes to continue bettering the product's tools and focus on building a real community around storytellers. "How we nurture that will be interesting. We'll start investing in ambassadors for various cities, arrange community meet-ups and such. Offline stuff will be important," Beard said. "We want to inspire people to shoot more thoughtfully, and have a place and home for that."

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