Stay In the Moment: A Review of the One-Hour Photo App / by Joshua Cook

1-Hour Photo moment with Foster

1-Hour Photo moment with Foster

How do we stay in the moment instead of busying ourselves meticulously documenting every moment? We've all faced this challenge. Something exciting happens. Maybe it's your baby's first steps, or a beautiful meal or the kind of sunset you can only dream about the other 364 days of the year, but instead of savoring every last moment, we're busy trying to get a great smartphone photo to share on social media.

Foster hamming it up for the camera.

Foster hamming it up for the camera.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, check your camera role, zoom in to make sure everything's in focus, tap, tap, tap again, edit, re-edit, post to feed and prepare to finally enjoy the moment. The thing is, by now your baby is distracted by their toes, your steak is cold and not only has the sun set, but the mosquitos are munching at your ankles. The moment is gone and you missed it. It happens to me too (except luckily my son surprised us with his first steps when the phone's were well out of reach), but if self-control isn't your thing, there is... well, "there's an app for that."

The big spill.

The big spill.

I don't see the attraction of capturing every one of these moments fading, but there is help to temper that compulsion. One camera app I turn too when I find I'm spending too much time tapping at my screen is 1-Hour Photo ($0.99 in the App Store). It's a very simple IOS camera app with a twist. You don't immediately get to see the photos.

After taking a photo, the app lets you know they'll be ready in an hour.

After taking a photo, the app lets you know they'll be ready in an hour.

As the name implies, after snapping a few photographs, you have to wait an hour to see the results. It may seem odd at first, but that's exactly how we did it for decades before the onset of digital photography. The app politely lets you know that your photos will be ready in an hour and sends you an alert when they're ready to view... just like dropping your old film off at the drug store and getting a call an hour later when it's ready for pickup. Here, you just have to open the app back up and it will download your waiting photographs to your camera roll.

You'll get a notification when your photographs are ready.

You'll get a notification when your photographs are ready.

The photographs you get are black and white. They're very nice black and white smartphone photographs, though, with strong contrast, beautiful highlights and plenty of character. Black and white may be a turnoff to some, but I love the simplicity of it and how it helps you focus on what really matters in your photographs. And again, I find the black and white conversion generally better quality than what I get with most standard camera apps.

Taking a break to enjoy the moment.

Taking a break to enjoy the moment.

In the end, 1-Hour Photo lets us get through the picture taking portion of our special moment that much more quickly and doesn't distract us with sorting through the 30 photographs we just took to choose our favorite to upload to Facebook. You certainly can still take a ton of shots, but I find the delayed gratification of waiting on the photographs encourages me to focus on taking just a few nice shots and then focusing on the moment itself. Then the photographs will be ready to scroll through later that evening after your child's asleep, you steak has been well savored and the sun has fully set... and you've found a comfortable respite from those mosquitos to relive those highlights of your day just before turning in for the night.