VSCO, one of Lifehacker’s favourite camera apps, lets anyone improve their mobile photos without advanced technical knowledge. We talked with co-founder Joel Flory about his background in photography, his management style, and his tea habit.
Location: Oakland, CA Current Gig: Co-founder and CEO of VSCO Current mobile device: iPhone X Current computer: 13" MacBook Pro One word that best describes how you work: Intentional
First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I began my career as a freelance photographer, then built my own business as a wedding photographer. When I met Greg, my co-founder, we both shared a passion for photography and wanted to build a business for creators by creators.
Take us through a recent workday.
My typical day begins with some form of fitness in the morning: I wake up at 5 AM and either head into the gym or play soccer with co-workers. My day-to-day at VSCO is hyper-focused on building up our team along with product meetings, networking with peers and investors, and vision-setting for the future.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
I’m pretty minimalist with my tech and I don’t use a lot of complicated gadgets. I’m a huge fan of Apple products, so I turn to them for my phone, computer, headphones, streaming services, you name it. As for an app that I can’t live without, that’d have to be VSCO! My life definitely wouldn’t be the same without it. Lastly, Audible: always be learning.
What’s your workspace setup?
I use a Thunderbolt display, Logitech MX mouse, with Grovemade wood stands. Around my desk, I also have photos of my family and my late grandfather’s 1989 A’s World Series Champion hat.
What’s your photography setup?
First and foremost I am a Nikon guy, but I now take most of my photos on my iPhone X. I also have a Sony A7.
What’s your best shortcut or life hack?
I love using Audible to listen to books on my commute. I believe you should never stop learning, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to read regularly.
I try to drink a glass of water and a cup of turmeric tea every hour.
Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
My assistant Mily and the entire leadership team at VSCO help me do my job. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in starting VSCO is that you are the company that you keep. Life is too short to spend with with who don’t support you and make you better. Our leadership team has made me sharper and better.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
I use Todoist, the to-do list and task management app. I stay focused on my priorities though—there’s not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do both inside and out of work. I focus on what’s most important, and then use my time wisely to make those priorities happen.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Spending time on the soccer pitch playing with friends is really revitalizing for me. I also like the sauna to relax—it helps me meditate and clear my mind. Brunch with my family (and a Thursday morning breakfast date ritual with my wife) are another way that I recharge.
What’s your favourite side project?
I don’t have a side project right now. I’m very focused on VSCO, my family, and taking care of myself.
What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?
Right now, I’m rereading Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg for the 4th time :)
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Ryan Smith, Qualtrics
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Speak less and listen more.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
The main problem I’m focused on solving is the essential mission of VSCO: how to deliver the best personalised experience for someone on their creative journey.