This weekend I attended a wedding where smartphones being used as cameras were everywhere.
It really highlighted for me how people don’t live in the moment anymore. The idea of removing the barrier between you and the moment you are enjoying has always been a dream of mine. I resent spending time at my kids’ birthday parties watching the candles be blown out on a 4-inch screen instead of being fully immersed in my children’s happiness.
Until now there hasn’t been a potentially legit way to live in the moment AND preserve the memory. Enter Google Glass.
In my day job, I oversee the future of the product direction at Aviary. Our company mission is to democratize creativity. We provide a powerful photo editor that is relied on by thousands of companies and millions of people each day. So I’m not going to miss an opportunity to immerse myself in new photographic mediums we might need to develop for.
We were one of the first in line to buy Glass at Google IO last year.
To be candid, my first hour with Glass wasn’t great. I won’t go into all the problems it has here. There are other more technical reviews for that. And to be fair, my disappointment is probably my own fault for buying into the hype. Despite the marketing, this is not a super-jet. It’s the Wright brother’s first plane. If I had looked forward to Glass as just a taste of things to come, I wouldn’t have been let down.
I decided to ignore my first impressions and forced myself to wear Glass for an entire weekend, focusing exclusively on the photography aspect of it. That’s all I really cared about after all: Could I use Glass as the solution to my inability to both live in the moment and preserve my memories? That’s what I wanted to find out.
I would set to doing all the suburban weekend father things I normally do, and see how using Glass as my exclusive camera changed my everyday life: I alternate between lugging around a DSLR and using my iPhone 5 camera to capture the recordable parts of my family life: My son’s Little League and hockey games.
Playing stickball with my kids in the park. Family biking and rollerblading. My daughter’s piano practice. Eating in restaurants, with 4 kids in tow.
One of the biggest challenges with Glass is not feeling like a douchebag / nerd / show-off when you wear them in public. What was clear to me was that strangers do notice them and they do not judge you negatively at all (yet). Quite the opposite actually. Google Glass acted like a welcoming beacon for strangers to come over and make small talk (always resulting in a request to try them on).
I’m a bit shy and my interests don’t often dovetail with the doctors and lawyers of suburbia, so it was pleasant to find myself talking technology with strangers. Some people may find this attention uncomfortable though. I expect it will diminish as Glass becomes more common.
Actually interacting with my children became a pleasure. I will often come back from vacations with thousands of photos (no hyperbole) in my struggle to get the “perfect shot.”
And while I love taking the photos, the minimalist in me always thinks about how clean and enjoyable my life would be without the added distraction of a camera.
Having an uninterrupted, undistracted catch with my son simply couldn’t happen before with a phone or camera in my hand. Watching him make a great play and not having to view it through a viewfinder means I actually get to enjoy the moment in real-life with all of my senses intact.
To be sure, there are still distractions (i.e. the voice controls in a noisy Little League game don’t work very well) and there is a learning curve to not missing key moments by spending 5 seconds navigating the voice menu to take a photo or record a video (Google smartly provides a shortcut snapshot button on the frame). You are aware it’s on your face and you can’t move it completely out of your field of view, which can be headache inducing. But as you learn to use it, these first-world problems become less relevant. You can focus on being in the moment.
Glass photography can help society too. I think about the concerts and children’s plays I go to where rude people (read: everyone) hold their phones and sometimes tablets in the air to record what’s in front of them, disrupting the experience for everyone behind them. Glass also has the potential to fix that problem.
What will the impact on photography be?
It wasn’t until I got home and downloaded all of my photos and videos that the importance of Glass really struck me. I could easily tell which photos and video were taken by me and which were taken by my children. The impact of point of view photography is not something I had ever really thought about, though Google had hammered that point home in their original trailers.
Is that really how gigantic I look to my children? I remember adults being huge when I was a child, but I’d forgotten just how big until now. Seeing mundane photographs from the natural height and angle of their eyes gives them life and makes the photographer relatable. These photos are notartistic, but they have a human soul.
POV photography is such a natural way to return to a moment in time or momentarily slip on someone else’s body and see the world through their eyes. While pro and creative photographers will not give up their hand-held equipment in this lifetime, I am certain that this will become the standard mode of photography for the common masses sometime in the very near future.
Google Glass is an amazing idea whose time has come. Future iterations and competition will make devices like this even better for photography. I can’t wait for Aviary to be a part of this developing medium.