Smart Camera Keeps You from Taking Cliche Photos

Why take a picture of something you can just as easily Google?


It's hard to believe that there isn't a single back alley in Venice, Italy that hasn't been photographed. Each year the city comes under shutter-fire — there are thousands of tourists taking pictures of everything. Much of the known world has already been captured; just Google it an there's an image. So, as a photographer, the hunt for the captured becomes all the more difficult.

Philipp Schmitt wanted to create a dialogue about how the deliberate method of taking a photo has been lost in this era where everyone owns a camera and has unlimited shots. “With digital photography displacing film, taking pictures has essentially become free, resulting in an infinite stream of imagery,” he writes in a blog post. So, he developed a camera for the photographer looking to find a place where no one has shot a picture before. The creation is called the Camera Restricta.

It works by taking your location and scanning the web for other photos that have been geotagged with the same location. All the while the camera emits a clicking noise, like a Geiger counter. If a place is too “hot,” the Camera Restricta will retract its lens and blocks the viewfinder, and you won't be able to take a photo. 

“Camera Restricta introduces new limitations to prevent an overflow of digital imagery,” Schmitt writes in his blog. “As a byproduct, these limitations also bring about new sensations like the thrill of being the first or last person to photograph a certain place.”

Inside the 3D-printed camera hardware is an iPhone running an app that's pinging a node.js server Schmitt built to query popular photo-sharing sites Flickr and Panoramio for images in the same GPS location. (Those curious about the app can view the project on Github.)

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario believes there's a power in photographs. She talks about how it's not only an artistic medium to draw someone into other people’s stories and struggles, but also the key to changing political policy by showing its consequences.

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Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: Philipp Schmitt

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