Are you tired of Instagram? Are your photos not getting as much love as they used to? If you’re a film photographer of any experience level or simply enjoy the artistic style of film, Grainery should be an app at the top of your list to try.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Instagram replacement for film photographers.
What Is Grainery?
Grainery is a website and mobile app for film photographers. As Instagram is becoming a platform for everything, from advertising and news to short-form video, it’s becoming less enjoyable to use for photographers.
This brings to light some smaller platforms that don’t get as much love, such as VSCO and Grainery. In fact, many photographers are switching from Instagram to VSCO.
The developers want Grainery to feel familiar but have unique features that those shooting film will love. Grainery is currently available on its desktop site, iOS (Beta), and Android (Beta).
For the best iPad experience, visit the desktop site then add a shortcut to the homescreen. It will then appear as an application without needing to use the iOS Beta, which is only available on mobile.
Grainery Layout and User Interface
The layout is going to look very familiar to those coming from Instagram.
The Home Page
One small change that Instagram users have been missing for a while now is the chronological ordering of photos on the home page from users you follow. Other than that, the Grainery home page is just as you’d expect, with likes, comments, sharing, and saving options in the same place.
The Explore Page
The binoculars logo brings you to the explore page. This is laid out a lot nicer than Instagram’s. It brings up options to look through popular cameras, view suggested profiles, and check out the newest and top-performing posts on the platform.
Your profile page will look very similar to Instagram’s as well. It’s much easier to find your saved posts, however, as they’re just a tab away. At the time of writing, there’s no option to organize your saved posts into folders.
Since the website and mobile app are still relatively new, there are a few bugs. Sometimes, not all the posts you save while exploring Grainery will actually save. Also, if you switch from the Posts tab back to the Saved tab, your saved photos will disappear; this can be remedied by refreshing the website or restarting the app, but it is an added nuisance.
Everything else in your profile will work perfectly, however. You can write a description of who you are, insert a link to your website, and add your gear.
The Benefits and Unique Features of Grainery
Let’s have a look at what you can expect from using the Grainery app.
The Camera, Lens, and Film Are Linked to Each Photo
One of our favorite features of Grainery is the ability to know exactly which camera body, lens, and film the uploader used to create that photo. Before you’re allowed to upload your post, you’re required to put your main camera body, lens, and film in your profile. When you upload a post, you can select if your default setup took the photo or specify something else.
This is helpful for both users browsing the site and the photographers themselves as there’s no more need to comment “what camera do you use?” This leaves commenters more likely to talk about the creative nature of the shot.
One of the coolest parts of Grainery, and the reason it’s most enjoyable to use on a tablet or larger monitor, is the ability to post panoramic photos. They make your profile look unique and are incredibly beautiful. A lot of work goes into framing panoramic shots, and many photographers use an expensive camera body, such as the Hasselblad XPan, to take them.
They’re gorgeous photos, so it’s great to see the developers thinking of small things like this to enhance the experience. Even if you don’t have a film camera capable of shooting “real” panoramas, you can create them digitally using your phone. Using panorama mode also makes for great travel photos.
Easier Ways to Search
On Instagram, there’s simply one way to search: using hashtags. They’re still in use on Grainery, but there are some unique features of the search function to make life a little bit easier for users. There are three symbols that help filter down search results: the exclamation point (!), dollar sign ($), and percent sign (%).
Placing an exclamation point before your search will filter for types and brands of film. The film is a big part of how the colors of the photo will look after development; this makes it crucial to choose the correct film before shooting to get the look you want. This feature is incredibly helpful for film photographers.
Placing a dollar sign before your search lets you see photos taken with a specific camera. If you’re looking at buying a certain camera, which is often a large investment, being able to see the camera’s results, with several types of lenses and films, is a very nice feature to have.
Finally, the percent sign filters lenses. Lenses can be even more expensive than camera bodies, so they’re just as important to research. It’s also fun to look at how each photo differs depending on the type of film used with each lens. The vast majority of lenses you’ll find on film cameras will be primes, meaning they have a fixed focal length and are completely manual. See our guide to prime lenses for more on this.
As Grainery is run by a small developer, users supporting the platform monetarily goes a long way, but what do users get in return?
Free members can use the platform just like Instagram, but they can only post a certain number of images. This is to keep costs manageable for the solo developer, Kyle Johnston.
In a YouTube interview by Chris Chu, at the 11:40 mark, Kyle states that during the beta, free users can post up to 24 images. Once the app is officially launched, which does not have a set date at the time of writing, users will be able to post up to 36 photos to their profiles.
With Grainery+, which is $3 per month or $36 per year, users can post as many photos as they’d like and put the style of photographs they shoot in their profile. This might not be worth the cost to some, however, the money could go a long way to helping additional features roll out quicker.
Future Grainery+ features are said to include a marketplace, forums, developer database, and a monthly Grain Grant entry. The Grain Grant is a monthly drawing that gives away one roll of film to a subscriber. To view the Grainery+ link, create a free Grainery account, navigate to your profile, go to the settings, and then G+ Subscription.
Should You Try Grainery?
We encourage you to visit Grainery even if you’re not a film photographer. Photos are treated like art, and even the most ordinary parts of everyday life look extraordinary on film. This may encourage you to shoot film yourself, or you’ll find it’s simply a nice way to browse artistic photography. We look forward to Grainery’s official launch on all platforms in the future.