Today we're interviewing Shawn Kent, founder of a new iOS app for photographers. Pixeo helps travel photographers find great locations through a curated list of geotagged photos.
The app uses both Creative Commons and user-uploaded photographs to help you find new places to practice your travel and landscape photography.
Born Out of Travel and Geocaching
Shawn was a military photographer for Canadian military and visited plenty of interesting ports and locations. The problem when you travel as a photographer is that you don't always have the local knowledge to find some interesting or unique locations.
We've all seen photographs of well-known locations repeated by many photographers. I call them trophies. There are people who travel just to photograph the popular scenes that everyone knows. Been there, done that, check off the box.
Shawn was no different. He knows Nova Scotia, but how does he share that knowledge and experience with other photographers? Likewise, how do we learn about some of the little known subjects when we travel?
The idea kicked in while Shawn and his family were on a geocaching trip. If you aren't familiar, people plant little treasures for other geocaching fans to find.
Here's how it works.
At one particular location, Shawn discovered a geocache that also happened to provide a nice view of a landmark – something different than he knew about before.
He thought, “There ought to be an app for that.”
The idea for Pixeo started there.
Developing the Pixeo Community
By itself, an app to share photo locations is nice, but it needs a bit more.
In this case, there's a bit of competition. You can create a new site by uploading a geotagged photograph, but it won't show up immediately. That's because this is a curated collection of photos.
Unlike searching for photos on a site like Flickr, there are no cat pictures. If the subject is something moveable, it doesn't get accepted because another person can't go to the site and expect to find the same thing.
As your photos are accepted, other photographers get to vote for the best photo of the location. You get bragging rights and some recognition if you have the best – or most popular – photo of a location.
It's a bit of a game, as Shawn has a strong competitive streak in him.
One of the things I like about this competition is that it can help develop a nice library of photos for a location. That helps you when you show up someplace new, as you can see the potential of a location, and perhaps find compositions or vantage points that you would've missed.
To me, it's better than being Mayor of a location on Swarm. You have to earn your place at the top, not just go there more often than anyone else.
Pixeo is a Karma App
Providing your photos for a location in Pixeo is like Karma in action. You share some of your local knowledge every time you make a contribution, and you get to benefit from others who visited a site before you.
It would be kind of boring if you were one of the first people who picked up the app and didn't find any photos. That's why Shawn and his wife, Lisette, spent time collecting geotagged Creative Commons photos to populate the Pixeo map before the launch.
You get to start with plenty of locations to try, and then the community starts building the map – much like the geocaching treasures.
Starting with iOS, but Desktop and Android Apps on the Way
If you have an iOS device, you'll be able to start when the app launches. There are plans for a desktop and Android version to come. Unfortunately, it just wasn't cost effective or feasible to build all of these apps at once. Pixeo is a Mom & Pop app, which means they had to pick a place to start and then move on to the next platform afterward.
Why start with iOS?
According to Shawn, his research showed that more photographers used iOS than Android. He aimed for the rich target to serve the most people he could on the first launch.
The fact that there are multiple apps coming shows something unique about Pixeo.
This isn't just another app. It's a service for photographers. The apps on iOS, Desktop and Android are your user experience, but it's the stuff going on behind the scenes that really make this service stand out.
Remember, it's a curated collection of photos that weeds out irrelevant images. That saves you time and shows you the best results for each location.
Pixeo Helps Travel Photographers Find Great Locations
Shawn is already in discussion for the first release on the Apple App Store. In fact, Pixeo may be on the App Store by the date this podcast releases, but that isn't final. If Apple showcases this as a featured App, Pixeo may launch a few days later.
Once it launches, I'll share a link to the App Store listing for Pixeo.
Until then, you can find out more about Pixeo and Shawn Kent Photography on the links below.
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