Instagram (FB), Snapchat (SNAP), and various other social media platforms often face scrutiny for their filters — the technology behind those impeccably chiseled jawlines, narrowed noses, and bee-stung lips of millions of young social media aficionados – and it could be bad for mental health.
Justin Miller, a professional photographer and the founder of photo-retouching agency, Glo Up Club, also believes that filters are failing social media users, and that his services can provide a solution. He joined The Final Round on Friday to discuss how Glo Up Club empowers social media users in an unlikely – and controversial – way.
‘Just a filter doesn’t cut it anymore’ on social media
“Glo Up Club is the first [social media] retouching agency,” explains Miller. “We focus on photos just for social media. [There's] different apps that you can use – for example, Facetune. And you can edit your own photos. You can clear your skin. You can make yourself skinnier if you want to. You can do whatever you want. But those tend to not look all that good because we're not all professional retouchers...we're the first people to offer professional retouchers specifically for your social media and online.”
Glo Up Club’s tiered pricing model starts at $30 and increases to as much as $65 for a ‘VIP Extra Retouch.’ Though the cost seems lofty for a service provided free through most social media apps, Miller believes that the usual filters on offer are no longer satisfactory for avid users.
“Our unofficial motto is, ‘Just a filter doesn’t cut it anymore,’ says Miller. “I feel like we've had social media for so many years now, and people are exploring all the different ways that they can express themselves.”
According to Miller, the reason why people post photos today is different than it used to be at social media’s genesis.
“It’s all about you [now], and how you want to express yourself,” says Miller. “Some people do it just for the likes. But [social media exists] to make whatever empowers you, and whatever makes you feel good about yourself, and whatever you want to portray yourself as to the world.”
How does Glo Up Club reconcile the core of its business with a message of empowerment?
“The way that I look at it, and through our marketing, is we're never going to tell people to make themselves skinnier. That's not our goal,” says Miller. “If they're a paying customer, we have to do what they want...[but] it's not just about making yourself more beautiful. You should feel beautiful; it's to make yourself feel beautiful enough to post those photos to be yourself.”
How influencers craft an ‘authentic’ digital presence – with airbrushing
While anybody can take advantage of Glo Up Club’s services, Miller’s “obvious customers” are influencers and celebrities, who curate ‘authentic’ online personas that will attract followers and expand their brands. For Miller, defining what it means to be authentic on social media is fairly clear.
“[An authentic digital presence] is what makes you different and what you have to offer that other people don't have,” he says. “For me, if I'm going to post on my Instagram, what makes me different? What do I have to offer to my followers, to the people that see it, that other people can't? And what is true to myself that I can post?”
Olivia Balsamo is a writer and producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @OliviaBalsamo.
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