“Why We Shoot” (how smart phones are changing our concept of a “photo”)

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Hyperpublic, startups, venture capital |

I see a shift emerging in consumer mindset around the camera in mobile devices.  Increasingly, whether through an app that takes control of the camera, or even more frequently within the existing photo app on smartphones, I see consumers using the camera not just as a means of photography in the traditional sense (snapping images for their aesthetic value), but also as a richer form of mobile data capture.  Consumers are organically utilizing the camera to engage in more utility based applications where rather than typing to capture an observation or experience, they take a photo of an object that is not “photogenic” for lack of a better term.

I recently rented a short term apartment in another country, and rather than photocopying our passports, the proprietor of the flat simply snapped photos of our passports with their smart phone.  Similarly, when my landlord leaves an invoice for rent at home, rather than write a note to my roommate, I just snap a photo of the invoice and email it to him.  Evernote was an early pioneer in teaching users that the camera could be used to augment and support memory, and even my instagram feed comes not just with aesthetic vignettes that you would expect on a service like Flickr, but also images of objects which have a deeper or data “meaning” to them.  Someone pushes a “screenshot” of their CallerID into my feed and it has no “photographic merit,” but the data that the image represents has a “meaning” that is captured and communicated through a mechanism with less friction than the user typing and tweeting “I never pick up calls from blocked numbers on Caller ID.”

The camera is increasingly becoming a means to capture digital information for record keeping, memory, organization, and communication of objects and data that lack aesthetically interesting qualities.  I believe this year we will see a slew of applications that amplify this shift in the way consumers “think” about what a “photo” is and when/where in their life it occurs to them to capture one.  I think this is going to a big year for applications that are pushing the limits of “why we shoot” and at least personally I am building and investing ahead of this storm.  If you are interested in pushing these boundaries and want to help us build at Hyperpublic, we’ve got some interesting mobile development challenges ahead both from a UX and technical perspective.  If you’re pushing these limits at your own startup (in some vertical other than local) I’d be interested in hearing about it and maybe even investing in you.

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4 Responses to ““Why We Shoot” (how smart phones are changing our concept of a “photo”)”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

I completely agree!

Mobile photo tools that help people feel like creative professionals (Instagram) or store notes (Evernote) are just the beginning.

We’re working on mobile photo solutions for verticals that help people memorialize occasions or collaborate on decisions.

Hope to catch up soon to share our progress.

thanks phil. look forward to seeing it!

I know right 🙂

Great post. It’s amazing to see how mobile devices are changing the way we interact with the world around us.

Thinking about HyperPublic, I’ve been thinking on how to bring that on the iPhone and I’ll be happy to share that with you. In fact, my application has to deal with the same UX challenges.

– Pierre
@pierrevalade


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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