July 13, 2022

Meet the Glass Team — Tom

Say hello to Tom, co-founder and designer of Glass.Glimpse into Glass

Describe your journey with photography.

Time travel and community.

Flipping through old photo albums with my mother is probably my first memory with photography. She had these big, heavy albums of photos when she was a kid, her wedding, and even pictures of when I was a baby. I still remember how the those pages felt and hear the crinkle as I flipped the pages.

Nowadays I’m constantly getting or sending snapshots to my wife of our kids. The loop is so immediate, but the feelings are nearly identical. That instant transport to that spot, that place, those memories.

Maybe it’s being solidly in mid-life now, but when I look back over my time with photography it comes back to those two things. I can scroll back through decades of my photographs and not only be transported back to a place, but also back to that time in my life. I become surrounded by the communities that have been part of my life — my family and my friends. It feels wonderful.

Being a photographer can often be seen as a solitary endeavor, but I believe photography is best shared with others.

What have you learned along the way that you wish you knew earlier?

There’s an adage I keep coming back to these days — it’s easy to over estimate how long something will take in the short term, but vastly underestimate what can be accomplished in the long term. Patience is such an undervalued trait. I really wish I could inject some patience into my former self.

I’ve wanted to build Glass since 2012, and I’d constantly beat myself up about not making more progress, dedicating more time, starting sooner. Seeing how you just need to do get started, and be very patient, would have done wonders for my mental health.

Just doing something every day is highly underrated.

How did the idea for Glass come about?

Our photographs are special. They deserve a special place online — a home. From 2012 until 2021, I kept looking around the internet and not seeing a place that I wanted to call home for my photographs. A few friends felt the same way. So, we built one.

Also, a home doesn’t exist in isolation, it’s part of a community. Building that community also takes a lot of time and patience. You can build a space, but filling it with the right people, and find the right community members takes a long time. I love a good housewarming, I think of Glass as being in that phase now. We’ve got the home, we’re mostly moved in now, and we’re at that stage where we’re bringing more and more people together. We’re warming the house.

I also wanted to create both a long term sustainable business, and an alternative to the current crop of social offerings online. For lack of a better word, they just feel gross. This coming from someone who spent nearly a decade designing them. I felt like I couldn’t walk away without trying to offer an alternative.

The only way I saw to do such a thing was to align our business model with our company and community goals — membership. I think we would have been way too early in 2012 for something like this to work, but seeing it work now is so rewarding. It’s been wonderful for people to see what the cost of “free” is online and support alternatives they want to see continue to grow and thrive.

What has surprised you the most working on Glass?

How great the community has been right from the start. I’m constantly thankful for that. It felt like the biggest risk when we launched in August 2021. Having a space online that truly feels safe and great can seem wild in 2022, yet here we are. As Glass continues to grow I want to always maintain that.

Post photograph by Tom Watson

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