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Software Development in Photography


by Gonzalo Birrueta-Martinez

For many years growing up, I’ve been really interested in photography. Although I didn’t get my first camera until I was in high school, I was really intrigued by others who captured memories with the device. I created abundant memories with friends. Many times you would find us heading out on skateboards and bikes on sunsets after school to shoot anything “Instagram worthy”. Keep in mind, my town was so small the population was under 10,000. What we noticed after some time was that there were a lot of great places to go shooting in my small town, but none were really being exposed to social media or review sites. This meant people were almost unaware that these little “easter egg” places existed.

I believe photographers are some of the most creative individuals there. Mostly due to the fact that they go through the process of picking the “perfect” location to shoot hundreds of shots until they get one shot that satisfies their needs, to then opening Adobe suite to edit the final shot and creating the image they envision.

There’s one big problem in photography: More than often if the place you want to shoot at is a national point of interest, good luck getting a shot with not many people in it. You’ll probably end up like this stock photographer trying to get a picture of the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, BC.

But what if I told you not all beautiful places are well-known points of interest? Well — if you’ve been a photographer for any amount of time, you would’ve already known that there are many beautiful “Instagram worthy” spots all around, but they are pretty hard to find unless you go out looking for them specifically or see them in some sort of blog or article.

Now wouldn’t it be awesome if there was an app ran by photographers — for photographers? An app where photographers and adventurists could view all the “low key” and “Instagram worthy” places in the city, tagged along with reviews and pictures from users who either discovered the location or visited it before. This social platform would target all photogenic spots, not just the top 10 Yelp results;)

But before anything, we have to understand and analyze the current market for apps in this area. I’ll start with the PEST analysis in the photography app industry.

PEST Analysis

Political:

App developers can be affected by many aspects of government policy. Any app developers must also consider the impact of any forthcoming legislation on their operations.

Economical:

Collectively, the photography/arts industry is responsible for adding around $763.6 billion for the US economy. This app will run under the “Subscription” business model. You can try the app for free for 2 weeks, and pay $2.99/month after the free trial expires.

Sociological:

Sociological factors in this domain are that photography is a form of art in the 21st century. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you have the ability to document a story with pictures. These pictures could convey what situation you are currently going through or have gone through the past.

Technological:

Today we live in a great moment for photography, our cameras on our phones are more powerful than ever. This means that you don’t need photography gear worth thousands, instead, you could use the camera you have in your pocket to capture art.

The best camera, is the one you always have with you! -Chase Jarvis

Competitive Analysis

Currently, there are several websites and apps that are used to find shooting spots, but none really achieve what the mission for my app is.

  • Yelp (app/website): Helps you find places, but only top spots that are usually crowded in cities. It’s a good way to get profile pics that 1000s of others have, but not the best way to explore unique spots.

  • Spots (app): Does a good job of pinpointing spots on the map, but all the spots are hard-coded in and there's no reviews or comments available for the spots. There is also a scarcity of spots, for a big city like San Francisco, there are only ~15 locations. Nice UI but little functionality.

  • Google Maps (app/website): A lot of information to find locations, but very time-consuming.

  • Explorest(app): Similar to Spots app, but with more functionality and once again, there are very few locations and almost all are “basic” tourist locations.

So, why are we better than the listed above? In our app, you’re allowed to comment on different locations as well as post your own pictures on the location. Also, the locations are coordinate-based so you get the exact location every time.

User Interviews

The best way to get feedback on an idea is to run user interviews — so that’s exactly what I did. I interviewed a total of 4 potential users, these are some of the simple yet insightful answers to questions I asked:

  • Do you like photography/exploring?

  • How do you usually go about finding places to photograph or explore? (Any online communities/websites/or apps?)

  • Do you wish there were a more centralized place like an app where the community of photographers would pinpoint areas they found to be good or interesting for others to explore?

I chose my potential users carefully, so all the responses to the first question were along the lines of “Yes, I love photography and/or exploring.”

How do you usually go about finding places to photograph or explore? (Any online communities/websites/or apps)?

Student at School: “I’ve lived in the bay my whole life so I have been around so many locations.”

A middle-aged man carrying a camera at Union Square: “I have a lot of photographer friends here in the bay so we usually all just find places by scrolling through google searches. As well as word of mouth.”

A college student with a tripod set up on California street: “I usually find places by going on Reddit communities like r/photography, and yelp sometimes when I’m in a new city.”

Random girl in a mall: “I go on Instagram and look at the top posts at the location I’m at.”

Do you wish there was a more centralized place like an app where the community of photographers/explorers would pinpoint areas they found to be good or interesting for others to explore?

Student at School: “Yes that sounds awesome.”

A middle-aged man carrying a camera at Union Square: “I’ve thought about something like this before but I have never seen anything close to it yet. Great idea, someone needs to act on it.”

A college student with a tripod set up on California street: “Yes, especially nowadays in cities where the actual gems get hidden by super popular locations. Sounds like nobody has really hit this market yet. If you ever try looking for places on Yelp all you get are places that are supersaturated and always crowded.”

Random girl in a mall: “This sounds so cool, it would be a great tool for newcomers and people in this market, having everything in one place would make it so much easier!”

User Stories

User stories help visualize a scenario where my product would be used. These scenarios are made up, but paint a picture for a better understanding of the products’ main purpose and target audience.

User Story 1:

Michael the photographer just moved to the bay area, but can’t seem to find nice places to shoot besides the Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts, The Ferry Building, etc. He wants something more hidden and less crowded to shoot at. He looked online for a website with locations but stumbled on an app that let him upload locations with coordinates, view and comment on locations all over the city.

User Story 2:

Crystal wants to find aesthetically pleasing backgrounds that match with her outfits, to then post on Instagram and get all the likes. She doesn’t know where to look until she downloads this app and sees that there is an abundant amount of aesthetically pleasing locations that fit her girly needs.

Wireframes

A wireframe is basically an initial sketch of the app views, this makes it easier to make design mistakes upfront and change them a lot faster, it also allows you to get user feedback a lot faster. These are my wireframes:


Wrap Up

In closing, I have gone through the initial process of software development. I brainstormed ideas, which challenged me to be creative and think outside of the box. I chose a niche market, and analyzed competitors in this sector and saw what they were missing. I then drew wireframes and conducted user interviews to see if I was headed in the right direction so far.

Anyway, if you read this thank you so much for your valuable time. And if you enjoyed any of my first blog post, please make sure to leave some claps!


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