The MOUNT JULY filters
CREATING PHYSICAL TOOLS FOR VISUAL STORYTELLING
In spring of 2013 a fellow Product Design senior and I launched a Kickstarter campaign. In a roller coaster 30 days we raised over $34,000 from more than 360 people across six continents. By the end of 2014 we had run an entire production cycle in India, shipped product, incorporated, and filed patents. In 2015 Mount July went into "deep hibernation."
The vision of Mount July was to build physical, interactive and inspiring hardware for photographers. We strove to help people engage physically and emotionally with the world around them, in lush colors and sultry narratives.
The Mount July Filters use unique, multi-colored, radially patterned glass. Set within a rotating housing that allows you to stack the filters and rotate them independently on the front of your lens, they were some of the first colored filters designed for creative, instead of corrective, purposes.
understanding the movements
Instagram has led thousands of people to now consider themselves artistic. And it has fueled a desire for the coloration and lighting of a past generation of plastic cameras and saturated film.
Along with the hyper-saturated and lo-fi looks that are being duplicated in Instagram filters, the resurgence of lomographic plastic cameras captures the movement back to “retro” hardware. The cameras play to a growing desire for all things vintage and their marketing leverages the power of storytelling.
What is it about the grainy, out of focus photos that is so captivating? There is a rawness there, an honesty in the capturing of a moment that feels so blatantly unedited. It is a snapshot of a moment in time, not a striving for artistic perfection.
UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET
There is a rapidly growing demographic of amateur DSLR owners, a majority of which fall in the under thirty category. This population has an overwhelming desire to create images that feel artistic and unique, fueled by the rise of the Instagram aesthetic.
However, much of this population has neither the time, skill, resources nor desire to spend significant time editing their photographs in the back end.
Led by Canon and Nikon, most of the market is still targeted towards professional photographers, focusing on technical appeals. This new amateur demographic is far more motivated by lifestyle branding and emotional appeals.
inspiration and provocations
What do you lose when you take a photograph with the intention to edit it later? How does engaging physically in the process change the meaning? We wanted to bring creativity back to the moment.
How might we help people capture and create a unique, authentic, and more emotionally-engaging narrative? How might we empower them as storytellers?
How might we enhance, rather than hinder, the photo-taking experience? How might we make a tool for experimentation and discovery?
prototyping and design
We prototyped dozens of lens attachments, using everything from mirrors to fishnet stockings. We settled on re-designing the colored filter. Color was the most compelling way we found of engaging the emotions.
We 3D modeled components, destroyed and rebuilt existing single color filters, and experimented with color combinations and patterns until the feel was just right. Our final designs were the first multi-colored, radially gradated filters on the market. They can be stacked and rotated independently, creating unending ways to change the look and feel of your photographs.
The filters were each named after important places in our lives that had inspired their color palettes. We launched with The Sedona, The Sayulita and The Stinson.
We launched on Kickstarter and were funded in May 2013. We ran initial tooling and first-round production in India, shipping product Winter 2013.
In the midst of second round production we saw critical failure in our manufacturing process. We spent 2014 sourcing for a new manufacture with capabilities of quality and scale. In 2015 efforts were paused.
We developed the organizational infrastructure including fulfillment, web design, shipping, and packaging design. We incorporated and filed for patents.