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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: How an app is born

By Luke Miller/Missourian Reader
January 7, 2013 | 1:14 p.m. CST

Luke Miller is the developer of Exposure, a free camera-sharing and picture-taking app for iOS devices that "takes many concepts of film photography and combines them with a modern, digital twist."

It's easy to look at your phone, use an app and completely take it for granted. There is so much more to that app than most people will ever begin to think of. Every day we wake up, check our email, read the morning headlines and share our lives through our phones. We bank, we shop, we talk and we learn. We open our apps as if they’ve always been there, but the truth is those apps are new and so is the culture behind them. An app begins as an idea and slowly blossoms into the reality of something so routine we barely recognize its existence. Every developer hopes this of their project: an app so important to the user that the user doesn’t even realize it.

I first thought of the idea for Exposure last May. I was at a wedding where the couple had placed several disposable cameras on each table at the reception. The idea was simple, but antiquated: the couple wanted multiple perspectives of their wedding utilizing hundreds of individual film cameras. It felt so old fashioned to be clinging onto a disposable camera and winding that notorious wheel. Despite the availability of these cameras, everyone around me seemed reluctant to set down their mobile devices. Since our phones can now do just about everything from books to babysitter, why would anyone want to set it down? Ah ha, the concept for Exposure was born.

I had never designed anything before, let alone an app, so a lot of research was on my plate. I dove into it head first, because I didn’t want to waste any more time. They say the hardest part of something like this is taking the plunge, so once I did there was no looking back. I read various books and articles about how to develop an application. I drew out every detail of the app on paper with colored pencil – how anti-technology, I know.

From there, I needed to find a programmer and a graphical interface designer, so I went to the internet. There are numerous sites where companies can contract labor for these sorts of things. Over the course of the next few weeks, I interviewed several candidates and narrowed my selections. We got straight to work upon hire. We all spent time talking with each other diagramming exactly how the app should look, feel and work.

Early versions of the app were far from amazing; it has taken months and months and we are still fine-tuning. The app continues to shape itself daily as users make requests or voice concerns. Like any project in life, you must constantly evaluate and adjust. I embarked on this project in May 2012; the first version of the app wasn’t released until November 2012, and I still work on it daily. Is making an app easy? No. Is it fun? Sometimes. Is it worth it? I’ll find out. Would I do it again? Maybe. Am I proud of what I have done? Absolutely.

The end result was Exposure: a one-of-a-kind camera sharing and picture taking app that is equipped with all of your favorite features such as borders and filters. Exposure takes many concepts of film photography and combines them with a modern, digital twist. Exposure allows multiple users to engage in a single camera via their own iOS devices. Users name their cameras, decide how many exposures it will have, and whom they will share it with. From there, each user can snap photos until the camera reaches 0 exposures. All of the images are saved on our servers until the camera is full, when we reveal the same pictures to all the users of that camera simultaneously. Users can then save those pictures to their phone or share them through Facebook, Twitter, or with other Exposure users. Exposure is available for free and can be found by searching for "Exposure Social Camera" in the iOS App Store.

Visit lmentllc.com/exposureapp for a video walkthrough. Exposure was developed by LMent, LLC, a Columbia company specializing in software and web development. If you have questions about LMent or Exposure, please send an email to the founder, Luke Miller, at luke@lmentllc.com.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.