What many photographers do when they get their first DSLR, is to take a picture (any picture) at wide open aperture and then slap a VSCO filter on it. They can now bask in the glory of having presented to the world what appears to be a “professional photograph”. In fact, the photographer most likely doesn’t possess any more than the very basic of skills in post-production techniques. And "hey" you say, “if it works, it works”. And I agree, that’s all fine. To each their own. But with basic knowledge and understanding, you’ll get basic results.
I used to be very anti-filter usage, especially by brands like VSCO. I thought that anyone who used them was basically “cheating/stealing” when presenting photographic work as their own.
Now, I suggest using VSCO filters in a different way. The opposite way. I spent my first two years never using a filter or preset of any kind. What I did was spend hours and hours experimenting with all of the sliders in Lightroom. “All of the sliders you ask?” yes, all of them. Now that I’ve put in my time slaving away for the previous two years to have a moderate to advanced understanding of post production, I feel l can now begin to approach the VSCO filter. I’ve began using them (for select photographs, not all of them!) and I must say that I love them. The difference is, that instead of using the filter as a means to an end. I use it as another slider.
I understand that this is how many photographers do use VSCO, and its how it was meant to be used. The point I’m trying to make is, that no matter what editing software or filters that come out, you’ll always be cheating yourself until you actually do the work. For example, First I click through a few of my favorite film presets and choose what looks best. Also, I select the films depending on the subject matter. Once I find one that I feel best compliments the photo I add the preset. From there on I basically use all of my editing knowledge to “fix” everything I don’t like about the preset. Call it, Editing by process of elimination. By the end, I’ve got a photograph that both looks great and is still true to my style!