Bringing Photos Back to Life
Kickstarter is an awesome crowd sourcing site to find new inventions, gear and inspiring work by other photographers. Another pick this month is RetroPacks, for avid users of Instagram. Founder is Lewis Pratt, a keen, self taught web developer and photographer. He currently works as a therapist but uses his free time to work on his hobbies! A keen outdoorsman who loves getting his hands dirty in the countryside. Dog and Orangutang lover.
I’ve been a photography enthusiast for over 10 years and have spent a large amount of my early adulthood documenting my life through the use of digital photography. I studied photography at The University of Northampton (UK) and loved learning the ropes on Photoshop with digital images, but also felt a strong pull towards the very physical and tangible process of developing my own shots in the darkroom. Having a physical copy of one of my shots felt to me, as if I’d created something real, something that didn’t just exist in some mystical digital world, but something that was very much part of the real world.
Inevitably though, darkroom photography is dying out with the onslaught of new technology coming into the photographic realm. Don’t get me wrong, I love new tech and can often be seen drooling outside the local camera shop window, thinking of what I should spend my hard earned pennies on next. But I do feel that we’ve kind of lost touch with the original premise of photography these days and it could be suggested that for the majority of the time, photographs are now taken for the amount of likes we think they’ll get, rather than for appreciation of what’s actually in the frame.
Well, if you spotted the ‘Likes’ just there, you may have guessed that this post has something to do with that little known app Instagram. These days, the majority of photographs taken, say on a smart phone, go to one place, Instagram. Instagram says that there have been 30+ Billion photos shared through their app, with 70 million average photos a day. That’s mind boggling!
The problem is, nobody seems to own a physical, 100% touchable, real life, openable and closable photo album these days. And even less people are hanging up their pictures around the home to remember all of those moments.
This is something I love to do and it’s a great ‘pick me up’ if you’re having a rough day. Looking at a wall of lovely photos can often remind you of the good things in life and photos in your home can show others, and remind yourself, about what’s important to you as well as improve your mood.
From speaking to friends and family and strangers (it’s a conversation starter!) the general consensus is that it’s not that people don’t want their pictures in their homes, the issue lies with the actual printing process. Common complaints were that printing online can often be confusing, complicated and the systems used can be ‘clunky’. People also said that if they went to a local shopping center and used one of their automatic machines it often turns into a drama when the memory stick isn’t recognized or the machine just will not connect via Bluetooth to your phone. Then there’s the issue of selecting out of the 3,975 photos you have on your computer or phone, which 10 you’d like. Then there’s the simple excuse of ‘ I can’t be bothered’ and really, I can’t blame people with the issues outlined above.
This got me thinking. How could I combine tech and physical prints to bring real photographs back into the hands of the everyday photographer, whether they be pro or amateur.
This is where RetroPacks comes in.
RetroPacks is a monthly subscription service that, if you want it to, will be entirely automated. RetroPacks connects to your Instagram account and can choose from your uploads each month, then print and ship three of them to you at the end of the month.
Each print will be in the format of a Polaroid print. At this point, there’s one format (overall size: 3.5 x 4.2 in ). However in future we’d like to offer additional formats.
The RetroPacks service is run through our website, retropacks.com, and benefits from a simple, quick and pain-free registration process, allowing users to login with their Instagram details. The website has been developed by myself and has been built from scratch to meet the needs of the service.
Once logged in, the user can select how they would like their pictures taken by picking a filter. At the moment we have Most Recent, Most Liked, Most Commented On and Manually. The interface for manually selecting your pictures is clean and easy to use. You also have access to an address book, so if you wanted to send one months box to your granny you could just select her address on the manual selection page and she would get a nice surprise in the post!
Because the photos are being pulled from the users Instagram account, it’s likely that each picture is one that’s already been approved by the user, meaning no more sifting through 3,975 pictures to find the ones you want.
Retropacks is photo printing done the easy way.
It’s a monthly rolling subscription with no long term contracts, meaning it can be cancelled at any time. It’s an easy way to share your online portfolio with those who may be disconnected from the online world ( elderly relatives), create an image gallery center piece in your home (photo wall) or put together a photo album of moments you don’t want to forget. The list goes on.
We’re currently on Kickstarter and have reached our funding goal of £600 with 10 days left to go! We’re so happy to have reached our goal and will now be able to purchase higher quality printing equipment and materials to improve the standard of our prints.
But we’re not ready to stop there! If we were able to raise more funding, we could invest further money into developing additional features for the service as well as offering additional options to our users.
Check out our website at retropacks.com and see what you think. Our Kickstarter link is on the home page (twice!).
Also check us out on social media where we will hold competitions and giveaways