OKDOTHIS Flips the Photography Formula

I’m really smitten with all these camera apps for iPhone. Maybe it’s clichéd at this point, but Instagram is still my favourite. Its community is awesome, and the filters are still pretty top-notch. (Seriously, when I’m working on photography for a client, making anything near the quality of an Instagram quality filter is a chore, and the app makes them available one tap away. That’s pretty marvellous.)

The problem with Instagram, though, is that it’s no different than taking a photo and posting it anywhere else (that’s why there are plenty of Instagram photos around). These photos are pictures we’ve taken and then chosen to share. It’s a philosophy that’s existed for not just photographers, but every creative, since the dawn of time: inspiration first, creation second, sharing third.

OKDOTHIS turns that convention right around, and then keeps it upside down. Read on to find out if it’s the photo app for you.

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The Philosophy

OKDOTHIS isn’t about sharing the inspiration you already captured. It’s about sharing, but sharing so much more than just a photo. OKDOTHIS is about sharing ideas, creative nuggets. These are called DOs by the company. The idea is pretty simple: you’ll be searching for inspiration, trying to find something to take a photo of. Instead of taking a picture of your espresso (puh-lease!), OKDOTHIS has some user-generated suggestions. They’re practically infinite. Here’s some examples:

  • “Take a picture of someone taking a picture.”
  • “Something that represents your life right now”
  • “Make something boring look interesting”
  • “Look up!”
  • “Doorway to another world”
  • “Shoot through a texture”
  • “Interesting staircases”

These examples are all in one category (General), but there’s a multitude to choose from. Spots, Selfies, Street Photography, Technology, Pro Photographers, Quotes, Hair and Beauty, Giving Back, the list goes on and on. I could write about this forever, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that the app feels nearly infinite in its ideas.

OKDOTHIS is all about capturing inspiration.

OKDOTHIS is all about capturing inspiration.

When you take a picture, you’ll find a glutton of filters — just like you would in Instagram or any other photography app these days — and you can apply them like you would otherwise. There’s one little twist, though: filters are stackable, so you can mix them up until you achieve the desired effect. Yes, this is amazing.

And when you’re done taking a picture — based of course, on the DO that inspired you — your picture is posted to a stream with the DO attached. So if you’re looking at a picture, you can see the DO associated with it. You can also read a description of the picture, where a lot of photographers talk about how they achieved the desired effect.

It's easy to see stats on a DO and some examples.

It’s easy to see stats on a DO and some examples.

This creates a lovely sort of circular social network: users generate photos and DOs, which means that inspiration is constant. You always have new ideas thanks to inspirational suggestions and thanks to photos other people have taken.

Designing Social

So, how is this all crammed into one iPhone app? Well, funny you should ask that, because it’s actually very simple. There are five tabs: your Photo Stream, Create DO, OKDOTHIS (where you select a category and take a picture), Activity (where you’ll see who’s commented on what photo of yours and the like), and your Profile, which is arguably self-explanatory.

The DO selection process might take a little longer than some people like.

The DO selection process might take a little longer than some people like.

Creating a DO only takes half a second, but taking a picture might take a little longer. Finding a DO is a little like finding an app in the App Store. The OKDOTHIS tab first presents you with Discover, which is a curated section of Categories, Featured Dos (with images), Featured Photos, and Featured Users. You can also Search or view DOs in a list of Categories.

For what it’s worth, I think this lets you get to things pretty quickly when you want to just find something, but it’s also a great browsing experience. They nailed it.

There are tons of filters you can use, and they're all stackable.

There are tons of filters you can use, and they’re all stackable.

If you want to take a picture quicker, there’s always the stock Camera app for those moments. If you want to share that photo to OKDOTHIS, there’s nothing stopping you. If you can’t find a DO for it, you can always make one and then post your photo to get it started (seriously, don’t hog all the inspiration to yourself. That’s bad Internet form).

The app feels inherently obvious, but also a lot of fun to just poke around in. I ended up wasting a lot of time just browsing through different DOs and other people’s photos. It’s a transformative way to be creative, one that doesn’t just ask if sharing what we’ve already done is enough. Regardless of whether or not you’re a pro (perhaps especially if you’re a pro), this is valuable.

The app is functional, but I wouldn't necessarily describe it as beautiful.

The app is functional, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as beautiful.

None of this means that the app is pretty to look at. It might be easy to navigate, so full points there, but I think some of the icons are a little plain. Honestly, the app itself ironically just doesn’t look very creative. There’s a certain aesthetic charm it’s missing that I wish it had.

The Social Element

What’s perhaps especially interesting about it, though, is that this is a real Internet 2.0 product. This is beyond consumption and more than just simple interactivity and commenting; this is about improving your skills. These DOs are sometimes simple, often challenging, but always immensely rewarding. For anybody looking to get better at something, there’s no better way than to give yourself the limitations of somebody else’s suggestions and constrain yourself. Photographers have a lot to learn from this mantra: OKDOTHIS is all about instructing us on what can actually be done with an iPhone. It’s kind of amazing.

The app includes tons of social elements, like OKs (which are equivalent to Facebook Likes), and comments. Standard stuff, but it works well here.

The app includes tons of social elements, like OKs (which are equivalent to Facebook Likes), and comments. Standard stuff, but it works well here.

Beyond that, though, it’s important to establish that this app has an actual user base. I barely had to post photos before I got a follower, and some people that I bumped into early on had hundreds of them. Granted, this isn’t the same as Twitter, but you’re not likely to run out of inspirational photographers (or ideas) any time soon.

Final Thoughts

OKDOTHIS flips the script with a ton of interesting, and maybe even innovative (I don’t use that word often), ideas. I love the way it transforms the relationships between inspiration, photographers, and consumers. Everything becomes one and cyclical. It’s insanely cool, and as a concept, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Of course, the app isn’t perfect. It could use another coat of paint, or even a touch-up. But as an idea, this is fantastic. This is well-reasoned. It’s worth every penny. I hope to see you on OKDOTHIS soon, and I think it’s a platform that deserves your attention. I’m certainly keeping it around.


Some elements of the app aren't perfectly designed, but as a platform and as an idea OKDOTHIS is tremendously exciting and extremely intuitive.