One of the biggest problems for Hipstamatic‘s Family Album is understanding what it is. It was launched at the start of August but I’m not entirely sure is it a social layer or a storage facility, does it replace existing sites you might be using or compliment them, or is it simply trying to be all of the above?
Family Album has some very cool features for sure, but it’s function seems ill defined. It’s possible, in the way of the new internet that Hipstamatic are hoping that their users will define what the feature really is, but here’s what the marketing blurb says:
Family Album is about storytelling, captured moments, and shared experiences. It’s a collection of Hipstaprints that creates a global snapshot of history. Family Album is a place for the Hipstamatic community to share.
There are three types of album you can create:
- Photo Album: you curate the album, choosing the photos that go into it, these cn be your own and/or others
- Magic Album: you define paramters and the album fills itself. You can choose a geographic location or select photographers
- Shared Album: create a shared album and invite people to join and co-curate an album. You can set specific start and end dates for event based albums (or you can just delete the dates and have a start and end of “any time”.
It’s impressive, and there’s some excellent functionality – for example the ability to create an album by location is excellent, you can use a map to zoom in on a location and Family Album will collate Hipstamatic shots taken within a certain radius. Very cool.
The problem with Family Album is that it is a late addition to Hipstamatic and it feels like just that – an add on. It doesn’t really feel like it belongs, despite it’s cool features.
Perhaps Hipstamatic feel like they are being left behind when it comes to social, with Instagram storming ahead – but to me Hipstamatic is about taking great shots and Instagram is about taking quick snaps and sharing them quickly. See previous post for my comparison of Hipstamatic and Instagram.
Instagram is the best at what it does because it is entirely social. The app is built around sharing, not added on to a photography app. It’s social and it’s simple. You open Instagram and you immediately see shared photos and can really quickly take and share your own.
Family Album just doesn’t flow. You have to consciously decide to engage with Family Album rather than it being a natural part of the process. It’s hidden away, it’s difficult to engage with friends, or anyone for that matter. You can create albums of shots uploaded by friends, or you can invite friends to share an album with you, but there’s no discussion or comments that I could find. It does provide an interesting discovery tool, except that I rarely think to go into it – no other in-app action logically leads to Family Album.
When I first came to Hipstamatic one of the things I loved about it was the clarity of vision and the commitment to it. Here is a vintage camera, you can take old school photographs. Lately that vision is in danger of being diluted somewhat.
For my 2c, Hipstamatic should focus on what it does best: excellent ready made filters wrapped up in a clever visual metaphor of a vintage camera. Definitely get sharing to existing social networks working seamlessly, but if Family Album is meant to be a whole new social space the result so far feels like they are in alien territory.
Family Album might develop over time into something that feels natural to use, but for now I have enough social sites on my plate, and I share my Hipstamatic photos to those sites, where I already have a network of friends. I don’t want or need another social space to develop.
Having said that, it’s clear that sharing is important to photographers, and perhaps I’m judging too harshly too quickly. Please leave a comment below and let me know what cool things you are doing with family album, or just to tell me how wrong I am and how much you love this new Hipstamatic feature.