March 6, 2017

I don’t know much about the history of photography. I take a lot of photos, but I don’t consider myself a capital-P Photographer.

The little I do know is that film companies once used different production methods and materials to make and process film. And because of that, the color we see in photos taken with different analog films look very distinct from one other.

Now that digital cameras have overtaken film cameras, the biggest color difference we see today in photography comes from how various digital cameras perceive color. But because everyone I know is shooting with the same digital camera (iPhone), a lot of photos have the same “feel.”

As a result, almost everyone edits their photos when posting to Instagram. Either we apply a preset “filter,” or we change individual attributes like brightness, saturation, and temperature. And that’s fine! I do this. In fact, I do this to about every photo I take.

Before digital photography—to get the color you wanted—you selected film that had the color formula you liked, and you shot with that. No editing required.

So then I asked myself, “Why am I editing every single photo instead of shooting photos the way I want them to be?” This thought led me down a path that eventually became Pico.

Pico is a collection of digital film for your iPhone camera.

Pico film isn’t a “filter” you attach to your camera lens, nor is it a “filter” you can apply after the fact. When you take a photo with Pico film, the result is the original. We’re just capturing color differently, just like analog film.


I asked for help from a developer on Twitter to build Pico. Chase McCoy answered and spent the next two months building the app with me! It wasn’t very quick like I thought it’d be. 😏

Pico MAX through the years. (1962, 1973, 1995, 2012, 2017)

Just for fun, the Pico Film Company has a little bit of fictional history before they started making an iPhone app. Maybe they were originally in the analog film business! Maybe they had a few films in their lineup. Maybe they rebranded a few times. Have a look through the history with these film boxes I designed, rendered graciously by Patrick Letourneau.

Chase, Patrick, thank you. You guys are rad. Thanks for making this silly thing with me.