Exclusive interview with Zach Garrett, John Barnett, developers of Wood Camera

Pro photographers, Zach Garrett and John Barnett are the creators and developers behind the hugely popular Wood Camera photo and editing app for the iPhone. The app also allows you to share your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram. We’ll be reviewing the app shortly but in the meantime, we wanted to share some of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that prompted the app in an exclusive interview with the developers.




JC – How was Wood Camera conceived and what were your thoughts about how it would it appeal in the marketplace, currently?

ZG & JB – Both Bright Mango co-founder John Barnett and myself are avid Instagram users (I’m @zachgarrett, he’s @johnbarnett), and like many Instagram users, we like to pre-edit our photos using 3rd party photo apps. That’s kind of where the idea for Wood Camera came from. We had literally dozens of photo apps installed on our iPhones, but we couldn’t seem to find a single app that had all the features that we were looking for. Wood Camera grew out of those needs.

There are some older apps out there that have excellent filters, but the filters always seemed a little too intense to us – the problem was that the intensity wasn’t adjustable. There are also some “false-HDR” apps that work very well and allow you to customize textures, brightness, etc., but the issue there is that there are practically only a couple of main “looks” that you can apply and these looks don’t work with all types of photos or lighting conditions.

We also have tried to break the editing process down into steps, so that you have basically infinite control over the final outcome of your edit. For example, in an app like Instagram you can apply a single filter that already has the vignette, texture, and frame chosen for you (you can turn the frame off or on of course). You can’t, say, remove the vignette or adjust the intensity of the textures. With Wood Camera, we’ve made it very simple to apply or remove any of these components, adjusting each of them to suit your personal taste as you go.

One last feature worth pointing out is the fact that you can utilize any of the lenses while shooting live using the in-app camera. This is a pretty unusual feature, but something that is even more unusual is that everything you do in Wood Camera is non-destructive – You can shoot with one lens, and then go back into editing mode and change the lens, or remove it altogether. You can go back and edit any aspect of any photo in the Lightbox even after you’ve exported it. Most other apps blend the layers, if you will, when you export so you have limited ability to make changes in the future.



JC – Can you tell us a little about the design and how you came to choose the colors and themes used?

ZG & JB – The “Wood Camera” name comes from our love of classic cameras made out of wood. We’ve incorporated various wood textures throughout the design, which gives the app a unique look. We chose a black wood – almost like a piano wood – because more natural brown wood doesn’t compliment the colors in many types of photos. The design is ultimately driven by simplicity. Adding this much editing functionality while keeping the interface simple was a main objective, and I think we’ve succeeded in making it relatively intuitive.


Target Market


JC –    Who do you see as the main target market for this app in terms of age, genre and expenditure?

ZG & JB – Really everyone interested in photography can benefit from using the Wood Camera app. The editing functionality of the app is broad enough to suit anyone’s needs.



JC – How long did Wood Camera take from the original planning to the production process?

ZG & JB – The concept was conceived last year, and it took us just over six months from the time we started actual development to launch. We probably spent a good two months beta testing the app and fixing bugs, to insure that it is as stable as possible for our users.



JC – How do you predict sales to be, is there a good solid market for this style of app?

ZG & JB – In the first month since launch, Wood Camera has been a top 10 photo app in 19 countries, and a top 100 photo app in 66 countries. We’re thrilled with our success so far, and incredibly grateful to each and every user that has helped spread the word. Even the most successful photo apps only ever reach a couple percent of iOS device owners, so the number of people who can benefit from Wood Camera is enormous. It’s really just a matter of reaching them.



JC – What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding the development of this particular app?

ZG & JB – Probably the most challenging aspect of the development process was fine-tuning the process Wood Camera uses to apply our individual “lenses” (filters) to photos. Our lenses are much more complicated than the simple color filters found in most photo apps, and utilize numerous adjustment layers, much like a Photoshop file. This makes the backend processing incredibly complex.



JC – Would you consider developing apps for third-parties?

ZG & JB – It’s definitely something we’ve discussed, but at this point we have so many ideas we’re working on that it’s hard to see how we’d find the time to focus on third-party apps.

App Store


JC – What have you learnt from the App Store?

ZG & JB – It’s hard to know where to start! The App Store is such an amazing, dynamic place. We’ve been surprised by how engaged iOS users are, and how willing they are to provide feedback to us as developers. Feedback, positive or negative, is invaluable to us because it’s what provides the foundation for future improvements.

Apple Inc


JC – Have Apple supported you well with your App development?

ZG & JB – Apple has been a fantastic partner. They do an excellent job of handling some of the “busy work” normally associated with software sales and distribution, which leaves us free to focus on creating great apps for users of Apple products.

Future Projects


JC – What next, are you developing another app? Would you go for the same genre again, and, if not, which?

ZG & JB – We have several more apps in the pipeline. I can’t say too much, but at least the next one or two apps will also be in the Photo & Video category.



JC – Have you considered developing apps on other platforms such as Android? If so, what has the experience been like?

ZG & JB – We’d love to bring Wood Camera to Android in the future. At this point, we’re focusing on making the iOS version of Wood Camera even better.

Support and Advice


JC – What do you think about Have we helped you? Would you recommend us? Have we been supportive?

ZG & JB – You have been great to work with! I would definitely recommend you, and look forward to partnering with you again in the future.

Kevin Carter is Head of Technical Hardware for as well as ED of Digital Journal of Photography (DJP). Not one to sit still for long, Kevin is also a Professional Photographer and Technical Editor/Lens Guru for a number of technology and photography titles. These include the British Journal of Photography, Professional Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, DSLR User, Digital Photographer, CNET UK, PhotographyBLOG, MacUser and PC PRO, as well as PC Format and MacFormat, among others. Recently he became the Lead Technical Editor for DxOMark.

One Comment

  • Mar

    Wood Camera is definitely one of the better filter apps. Most of the colored filters, and all of the black and white filters are very successful. However they are all vintage-retro, which is very limiting. As a camera replacement app it is very lacking.