As someone who's spent more time and money framing photos than I care to admit, I was so excited to learn about Instantly Framed, an app that professionally frames and ships your photos for $65 (including shipping) in just three days. Three days! I ordered the above frame last Tuesday at noon and it was in my hands by Friday afternoon. How convenient is that? The process is quick and painless: You download the app from the iTunes store, upload a photo from your computer or iPhone, choose from one of five mat sizes (it recognizes the quality of your photo so it only offers sizes that will make the highest quality print), and and on the third day, you receive your package. Super straightforward.
The only con? There's only one frame size (12"x12") and wood type/color (FSC-farmed black walnut), but for those of us who appreciate quality and are incredibly indecisive, it works in our favor—I've never made a faster framing decision in my life, and the quality is undeniable. I recently chatted with the woman behind the brand, professional photographer Shalee Cooper, about what inspired Instantly Framed, staying ahead of the competition, and her plans to expand the line.
What was your motivation for creating a professional framing app?
I'm fascinated by the tangible and I'm passionate about creating and capturing memories; that's one of the reasons I chose photography as a medium. I wanted to create a way to make those memories last. Everything is so fleeting now, and a lot of our photos are living in our phones and end up slipping through the cracks. At the time of conception, there were so many services where you could print images or have them made into books or even put on pillows and cell phone cases, but it was really hard to find a reasonably priced way to have them professionally framed, so I wanted to create an app where you could just select a picture and we would take care of the rest: printing, framing, and shipping. There are no hidden costs.
I'm so curious what that app process has been like for you. How long did it take to get the whole thing up-and-running from conception to execution?
Two years. And it's honestly been extremely challenging, especially for someone who's creative. You think, "I have this great idea," but of course it takes a long time and loads of research to execute successfully. And in the meantime, there are others who have also launched a similar service, but we're the first that's made in America and also link to your social account.
How do you stay ahead of the competition?
You have to stay true to your own vision and not let what others are doing effect you. What sets us apart right now is that we're made in the USA and our first item offered is very high quality. So it speaks to a very specific person: someone who wants a product that's built to last. This is not a disposable frame that's made so you can change the picture out a hundred times. We use recycled materials to create an easel back so that you can have it open on your desk or a shelf, but when you close it, it's totally flush to the wall so it doesn't hang forward or pop out.
The only part of the process that I got a bit stumped on was selecting a mat size. I'm too indecisive for my own good! Ultimately, I went with 6x6. Which mat size do you usually recommend?
Honestly I go back-and-forth depending on the image. Personally, I'm drawn to the 4x4. It's so little, but it pulls you in; it invites you to experience it. The 6x6 is a nice in-between size.
What's in development right now?
I'm looking into a flatter, more contemporary frame for the future. And I'd like to incorporate other finishes, for example we know we want to add a walnut frame with a natural finish.
The app is available to download for free on the iTunes store at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/instantly-framed/id754663886