Monday, October 26, 2009

Changing Filters

A few weeks ago, my friend, Ron Green (CTO of Powered in his spare time) and I were in New York on business. He and I are both iPhone app guys and we were comparing notes over dinner. One of the apps he strongly recommended was Best Camera by renowned photographer, Chase Jarvis. Chase's premise being that the "best camera" is the one that you have with you and more and more often, that happens to be the camera on one's phone.

Why am I telling you this? Because I love Best Camera's ability to create filters (a la Photoshop) for the pictures I take with my iPhone. In my case, I've always been a huge fan of black and white photography so not having this capability on the iPhone sucked. Don't get me wrong, I like color photos too but there's something about the way black and white photography adds an artistic flair to ordinary pictures.
Here are a few examples of before and after pictures in color and after I've applied Best Camera's "Paris filter which creates a black and white effect:

The Colorado River (color)

The Colorado River (black and white)

"Not the Moon" (color)

"Not the Moon" (black and
white w/ "cool" filter applied)

Cornfield (color)

Cornfield (black and white)

Right about now you're thinking, "okay Aaron, you've proven that you're at least a mediocre photographer who can hit a button that makes your color pictures black and white. So what's your point?!?" Fortunately, I do have one. And it's not just about showing off a few pictures I took with my iPhone. My point is that not only does adding a filter to my photos change the way I take pictures with my phone but it has also made taking pictures less utilitarian and more enjoyable.

The reason I took time to write a blog post about this is that changing other filters in your life can have similar (if not more significant) effects. For instance, think about shifting from watching your local network's news offering to listening to NPR's Morning Edition. Or add 50 new songs to your iPod. Or if you're into social media, try removing your 10 least favorite blogs/tweeters from your reader or Tweetdeck and adding 10 brand new people into the mix.

You obviously don't want to undertake these exercises blindly but rather do some research. I usually find that asking some good questions on Twitter:
  • what new restaurant should I try?
  • what great songs should I be listening too?
  • which people are MUST follows on Twitter or Facebook?
  • who writes an amazing marketing blog?
I've been amazed by the quality of what I get back once I change my filters.

What filters have you changed recently? Or which will you change? I'm always looking for new ones so please let me know.


  1. I'm totally watching Fox News tonight.

    Thanks for the reminder Aaron.

    Jim | @jimstorer

  2. The Best Camera app is sweet. And it's a great metaphor for getting out of our collective comfort zones. Like driving home from work via a new route, watching a different show, reading a completely different genre of book. Anything that gets you out of the run-of-the-mill everyday can make you more aware of the opportunities that lay just outside your field of vision and give you a new perspective on things.

    Thanks for reminding us to pick our heads up once in a while and look around!

  3. Great reminder Aaron. It's all too easy to let old habits rule and stick with the same behaviors. It's tough but I like to strive for a healthy discomfort. Some "comfortable" behaviors that can stay the same combined with ones that make us reach to learn, see things differently, and ultimately help us grow. Forcing yourself to switch filters helps do that too.

  4. Jim/Morgan/Ken,

    Thanks for weighing in. Your support and words of wisdom (even if you're being a wiseass like Jim) are always much appreciated.

    Aaron ;)