Truth be told, the first time I heard about this new photography app, I rolled my eyes. PHHHOTO is an app that takes multiple quick snapshots with one press of a button, and then uploads it on its community as a GIF on a sugar rush (cos the frames shift so fast). The first thing I thought was “Great, another way for people to admire themselves online, as if there wasn’t enough of that going on already.” The second thing I thought was “How do you even say that name, PHHHOTO? Phu-huh-huh-ohtoe? Fhhhhotoh? Foe-ho-ho-ohto?” Obviously, this new “craze” wasn’t going to do much with upping the general substance of society.
And then, because I’m a curious cat and I have to understand these things for myself, I downloaded it on my iPhone. I took my first GIF. Spent about two seconds in denial. Then gave in as a new recruit to the future cult of PHHHOTO. In the first fifteen minutes of my conversion, I have since taken five GIFS – that’s more pictures than I’ve taken on Instagram all week.
Now that I’ve calmed down, I’ve taken some time to think about what made the app so addictive, and what would possibly make it catch on in the long run. Because it’s relatively new, it’s quite understandable that it doesn’t yet pack a lot of extra punch. At the moment, all it is is an app that takes GIFs and shares these in its GIF-loving community. It only has two filters: Daze is pretty much a standard auto-correct filter, while Solo is a black and white filter. When it comes to sharing, it’s your average app, with choices of connecting to Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, where the app converts your GIF to video. However on Facebook, PHHHOTO doesn’t really show your GIF as it is, but instead gives a link to your page within the app. Apart from that, everything else is pretty standard in a social media app. You have your comments, likes, friends, and the all-important hashtags.
So what now is fast making the app the hot new craze? Well, I wracked my brain for something more “intelligent” to justify my initial scepticism and my accusations against “substance” and “society” blah blah blah, but the only valid reason I could think of is: It’s fun. PHHHOTO is fun. And despite my condescension, at the end of the day that’s really what makes things catch on and stick. The fun factor of an app is what makes you enjoy it, and love it.
That GIFs are fun has been a universally established fact for a decade now. But we really only see GIFs in funny memes most of the time. Taking this fact and applying it to another universal truth: that people are addicted to taking pictures, is really a stroke of brilliance. With PHHHOTO not only do you get to capture a moment, however inane that moment is (as evidenced by my feed), you actually see more life to it with all the movement. Thus it becomes more captivating, more hypnotic, more evocative even. The difference with this and Instagram video or Vine is that you don’t have to take it too seriously or think about the artistry or any of that. It’s just for kicks; a new way to capture your moments, if you will.
Seeing your hyper self blinking and ogling the camera is pretty hilarious. Seeing your dog wag his tail like he’s on steroids is really cute. Seeing random strangers wiggle on the streets is hysterical. And seeing the wind rustle leaves is just… poetic. None of these are doable anywhere else. That is why PHHHOTO is such a craze; it could revolutionise the way we need and use our photography apps in the future.
Julia Escano – Shoot The Frame