Cole Rise

Cole Rise is a San Francisco–based photographer and entrepreneur. He recently launched, an iPhone app that commercializes his Lightroom presets and Instagram filters. He has worked for both Yahoo and Apple, and he was a design consultant for Instagram. He was the founder of Subatomic Systems, Particle Progammatica, and Flagr. You may have seen his work in a few magazines, art blogs, CD covers, and the like, or perhaps used one of his filters on Instagram. You can follow him on Instagram and on his blog.


Visual storytelling was not part of my vernacular until the launch of Instagram. It was the start of my enduring love affair with digital photography, and I have since become immersed in visual computing. But only recently have I started to grasp the long-term implications of this brave new world in which we are surrounded by cameras — big and small, embedded, personal and political.

My exploration of the visual realm and somewhat unhealthy obsession with Instagram has led me to form many friendships, learn a lot about my own limitations, and, most importantly, discover many new worlds. One such world is carefully captured, curated, and re-created by Cole Rise, a San Francisco–based photographer with a substantial following on Instagram. His photos speak a language that has always resonated with me. He recently released an iPhone app called that commercializes some of Cole's Lightroom presets and Instagram filters.

Intrigued by his work, I reached out to see if we could have a conversation about the growing presence of visual sensors and how that shift might impede our ability to create memories. We delved into the concept of a "silicon traveler." Our conversation ended up being a reflection on technology, in particular mobile phones and how they are changing our sense of self, as individuals and social animals. Of course, Rise also shared some of his photography tips and talked about his favorite photo.

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