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Why Did You Take That Photo? - Bento Cam for iOS
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Last year I was fortunate enough to attend SXSW Interactive for the first time. Despite the countless blog posts on the topic, and the valuable advice from friends and colleagues who had previously attended the massive event, I was utterly unprepared.

Unprepared for the long lines at the food trucks, the surge in Uber prices, and the importance of RSVP’ing. Unprepared for the enormous scale of the whole thing, and the feeling of being at the center of what feels like the most important place in the universe for a few days (well, important for some people…).

Most of all, however, I was unprepared for managing the hordes of photos I took every day of everything from presentation slides, business cards, receipts, food trucks, inspiration, and people doing a strange thing called “Meerkating”.

The actual breakdown of the roughly 650 photos I took over the course of 5 days at SXSW was:

Sessions → 50%

Fun → 25%

Events → 15%

Inspiration → 5%

Other → 5%


SXSW photo number 175: My colleague checking in with Morris the Cat at the Mashable House. File under fun?

So where’s the pain?

Basically SXSW is one big photo-op, and many of the photos I took for the simple reason that I had my camera right there with me, on my smartphone. However, the majority of the photos I took, I actually needed to do something with later.

At the time I worked as a consultant for a digital agency and as part of being at SXSW I was expected to do internal and external presentations of key takeaways and trends from the event when I got back to Copenhagen.

This is where the photo mess became an actual pain, since I ended up spending way too much time scrolling through my camera roll to find the right photos from the right events to put in presentations, or share with colleagues, often through the dreaded and very unproductive scroll through camera roll, find picture, email to myself, download to desktop-way that many of us end up resorting to for lack of better options.

Of course SXSW is just one isolated experience, but for a lot of people in a lot of different industries the creative use of the smartphone camera is becoming a more and more integral part of the job, and this trend will just continue in the future as camera phones become better and we become increasingly creative in how we use it as part of our jobs or privately.

For me, the experience at SXSW became that personal pain that sparked an interest in finding a better solution (cue Bento Cam…) for organizing the increasing amount of photos in my camera roll in a better and more productive way.


SXSW photo number 221: From (former) Evernote CEO, Phil Libin’s excellent keynote on bold decision making.

Does the world really need another photo organization app?

That’s the question some of you might ask, and we have been asked that very question a few times already. We obviously think so. We have spent months talking with and interviewing many people about their photo taking habits and pain points and to us it’s become crystal clear that we are still pretty far away from having that one solution that finally “fixes” the photo mess — in the way that Mailbox did for email for example.

There are a many great products out there that help people clean up their camera rolls, store their photos, and automatically organize them. But for people who have a more specific and sophisticated set of needs for organizing their photos, we see an opportunity for a solution built around those needs.

Why did you take that photo?

What many of the existing products do is help tell you what is in a photo, but not why you took it. The context that only you yourself can provide is simply missing, and for many that just isn’t enough. The type of people we have talked to have a much higher need for control over how they organize their photos than what automation can offer them at the moment.

So who are these people with their “specific sets of needs”? Well, a lot of the people we have talked to and identified fall into one or both of these two groups:

  1. They take a lot of different types of photos related to different situations and projects, often because of their profession, but this can also be for personal use or a combination of the two.
  2. Their personality type demands more control over how they organize their photos (and many other things in their lives).

In the first group, we have interviewed people from a range of different professions like real estate agents & developers, product designers & developers, retail buyers, project managers, consultants, event planners, entrepreneurs, artists and more.

One of the people we talked to is the Creative Director of a company that helps design companies in furniture and accessories outsource production to China and India among other places in the world. He has a network of 500+ factories he visits regularly in order to make sure the factory lives up to the sustainability standards expected by their clients, but most importantly to help oversee the production process of client’s products. Needless to say, his camera is essential for him to do his job, and the ability to organize photos in the right way is absolutely critical to his success.

In the second group, we discovered a segment of people where their need for organization stems largely from their personality type. They simply love to organize all aspects of their lives, including their photos, and they just need better tools to do so.

Let’s face it; you will never do it later

One thing we have learned from surveying and interviewing potential users is that once your photos go into the camera roll you very rarely go back and “do something” with the photos. This is even true for the people who back-up to other third party apps. The result of this is a lot of photos taken for no real reason and a lot of missed opportunities.

To truly help people take control and organize their photos exactly how they want, we think it needs to happen deliberately and instantly. This is why we are building a camera app that improves on what people already have on their iPhones. The improvement is not in making a better quality camera, but by making sure, no photo is ever mindlessly sent to the oblivion known as the camera roll again. We help users instantly put new photos in “collections” that are connected either to iOS albums, or to folders in Dropbox or Google Drive. New channels will be added to this list ongoingly.

You could call us the Uber for… Nah…

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The final part and the inevitable call to action

If you think this entire post is BS and you can’t relate to the problem I proposed then there’s probably no place for Bento Cam in your tool box, and that is obviously fine, we are not making a product for everyone (but thanks for reading all the way to the end, though!).

If anything did strike a chord with you, however, and you could imagine a scenario where you would welcome a different solution to your specific photo organization needs, then we would love to invite you to take part in our private beta, expected to launch in April!

I will leave you with a quote from fellow organization aficionado Marie Kondo:

“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

As a final note I should say, I will unfortunately not be going to SXSW this year (I’m busy building this thing…). Next year, however, I will be back, well prepared for managing the hordes of photos I now know I will end up taking.

Categories: Photo Management

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