Why I built mood.camera

I’ve been a mobile phone photography enthusiast since I owned my first “smart” phone, a Samsung Galaxy S3. The power of having a camera in your pocket ready to capture any moment, really excited me, even if it only had an 8 mega-pixel camera with poor low light performance.

Over the next decade phones camera made leaps forward with higher resolution sensors and a revolution in computational photography, giving us sharper photos with high dynamic range. But, despite this advancement, modern smart phones produce photos that are increasingly artificial, over-processed, and lacking in character.

Of course, there are many existing filter and editing apps that attempt to inject character into your photos, but the editing process always took me out of the moment, overwhelming me with filter options and sapping my creativity.

For me, photography is not just about the photos themselves, but the experience of creating them.

It’s got too easy

In the evolution of photography, there has always been a drive towards convenience and accessibility. A big turning point was the introduction of the first instant camera, the Polaroid. Its aim was to simplify the photographic process, making it immediate and more accessible. However, even with the 60-second development time and the relatively high cost of its film, the Polaroid still had that magic that we seem to have lost.


This trend has continued and has become particularly pronounced in the advent of AI. Creating an image through a prompt is undeniably astounding, however, I find it very hard to feel any artistic ownership over the image.

I wanted to feel inspired to take photos on my iPhone again. I needed something that brought back some of that magic, that uncertainty.

This is why I set out to build mood.camera.

Building the app

For the project I focussed on three guiding principles:

1. Produce characterful photos.

I wanted the photos produced by mood.camera to look like nothing else produced by a phone camera. They needed to have a real sense of physicality and charm.

2. Bring joy to the photographer.

Each shot should carry an element of anticipation and of the unknown, echoing the experience of a film camera.

3. Straight-forward to use, but with depth.

It was important that I included enough control to allow creativity but kept the point-and-shoot essence of mobile photography at it’s core.

I started working on a prototype in October 2023 and immediately felt excited to use my iPhone for photography again. Over the next few months I spent evenings and weekends working towards a beta. After the beta launched on Reddit it quickly gained a small but engaged audience, whose feedback helped me fine tune the experience  Over 100,000 photos later and mood.camera was ready for launch.

A special thank you to all those who gave me the feedback and encouragement to keep on building <3