Ultra slim executive summary

Just me. This was a solo school project.

March 28th - April 27th — One month turn around

A "wizard of oz" video prototype detailing a connected experience between four devices; A smart DSLR camera, a smartphone application, a desktop application, and an Alexa Skill.

To allow photographers to bridge the gap from their vision to a final image a bit easier.

First steps

Who is my demographic?
At the time I narrowed in on photographers who get out of the studio to take their photographs. Travel photographers, nature/landscape photographers, and the like.

After further exploration and conversations with photographers I learned that this demographic was not the best choice. If I were to continue this project I would shift to focusing specifically on photographers and videographers who are in a studio setting.

What needs/problems can I solve?
What’s the point of making technology without actually solving for a need? To find a problem worth solving, I had to ask photographers what their problems were.

In the end, the problems I was attempting to solve where anything that created friction, forcing the photographer to miss a once and a lifetime shot. Things like editing deep settings, and remote shutter release took form as solutions to those problems.

Orchestration and Information Architecture

In a multimodal experience, the orchestration is make or break. The handoff from device to device needs to be seamless and incredibly flexible. What should be happening when and why? In this short sprint I designed for a happy path. There are no error states or "uh-oh" moments.

In future iterations, this would be heavily explored and tested. In this iteration, it's largely based on assumptions.
Orchestration in progress
Start of the orchestration
Final pass at orchestration
Final pass at orchestration
Next up was establishing the Information Architecture. Based on the work done in the orchestration, I established a logical architecture across the experience. To reduce cognitive load on the people using this Voice UI, nailing the IA was crucial.
Information architecture map
Information Architecture Map

UX Component Rationales

After establishing what this ecosystem needed, I had to have a rationale as to why and to explain any sort of technical specifications needed.

The Camera
This is the primary artifact and touch point for this experience. All the functionality for the product comes from this. It’s super important that this all be buttoned up and serve the purpose of making their jobs easier and allowing them to focus.

Alexa Skill
This functionality is important because the user can ask these questions while they’re preparing for the day or packing up their camera. They don’t have to worry about sitting down and stopping what they’re doing to find out quick bits of information.

The Mobile App
This functionality takes this smart camera from “hey that’s pretty neat” to “hey that’s a powerful tool I could use”. Specifically, being able to have access to your camera in situations like nature photography or when taking long exposure photos.

The Desktop App
This feature is super important for the demographic this is targeting. The user needs to be able to sit down and edit these photos, and giving them quicker access is very important. This also needs to seamlessly integrate into their workflow, and not interrupt it.

Demographic research

Since working on this project my opinions on persona's and proto-personas have vastly evolved. In my opinion, demographic segmentation leaves a lot to be desired in design targeting. However, for this assignment I did start with a persona based off of loose research.

This made up a large chunk of my project’s research phase. I began by searching for demographic information on professional photographers from sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and AI-PI, This information helped me shape my target demographic.

It’s hard to think of a use case for a voice-activated camera for a photographer in a studio, but how much of the market of photographers are actually out and about? That was the main piece of information that I was looking for.

66% of photographers say they specialize in Portrait photography. Photographers commonly claimed more than one specialization, however.

My area of focus was photographers getting out of the studio. That includes event photographers 33%, Photojournalism 26%, nature 24%, travel 16%, and some fine art 35% depending on the type of photos they take. (source)

Another important consideration moving forward would be compatibility with other lenses and systems. Photography equipment isn’t cheap and having to repurchase everything would be a huge deterrent to switching over.
This proto-persona was the result of the findings in these research phases. It wasloosely based on real data, but non-specific and not directly linked to the product being built.

Market Research

I looked at several reviews of existing smart cameras. This research informed the type of problems to avoid. For instance, I learned that the Canon 70D doesn’t auto-update your timezone, despite being wifi-enabled. That fix is super simple.While a lot of reviews cover the industrial design and engineering of the camera, some bits of user interface information do slip in here and there. Specifically, a video by DigitalRev TV on YouTube covers the connection of the 70D to the iPhone app.

Quick gut check

I talked to 6 photographers about this concept to do a quick gut check.

This provided me with important feature ideas, an understanding of photographer's expectations of a tool like this, and a general sense of interest in a product like this.

One participant said he would expect the mobile app to operate like the Go Pro app and would love to see how much more he could control his camera remotely.
Mobile UI
Desktop UI

Next steps

Obviously, it’s super important to talk to your demographic and test your product with them. I'd love to have performed a contextual inquiry; to have actually watched photographers work, taking notes on their behaviors and work arounds.

As it is an art, I’m sure a lot of photographers have different ways of working, so sitting down with a variety of them will be very important. After doing some more observational research, I’d love to run usability tests on the multi-modal experience with a physical camera.

In future iterations of this I would shift the focus to in-studio photographers, and test physical wizard of oz prototypes with them. The mobile app and desktop app additionally need further exploration and testing.


Designing for an extremely specific power-user centric device like a DSLR was a new and unique challenge. Getting a good grasp on what the best practices are while also trying to wrap my head around the functionality and purpose of everything was very exciting, but proved to be a challenge.

Thanks for reading!

First case study ⤏