‘This changes Moment’: Smartphone photo gear maker adds online lessons to growing marketplace

Photographer Andrew Kearns and fellow Instagram star Sonora in a new online lesson feature offered by Moment. (Moment Photo)

When Moment launched six years ago in Seattle, the hardware startup was focused on making lenses and cases to enhance smartphone photography. Since then, the company has expanded beyond hardware into app development and guided trips, among other things.

This week, Moment announced the debut of online video lessons for photographers and videographers interested in learning more about how to succeed at the craft. The lessons are designed to put the student in the field, with an over-the-shoulder visual style that covers specific techniques.

“This changes Moment,” said founder and CEO Marc Barros. “More than just a gear maker, this brings us full circle as a new kind of commerce company with an online shop, content, and experiences.”

The first lesson, called “Learn With Kearns,” features Washington photographer Andrew Kearns, who has 444,000 followers on Instagram.  In teaser videos, below, Kearns is shown shooting in Iceland with fellow Instagram star @sonoroatmw, as well as offering editing tips.

The 60-minute portrait and edit lessons are both priced at $49.99. The lessons are also paired with the option to join that photographer on one of Moment’s photo tours. Kearns and Sonoroa will take students on a week-long adventure in Iceland.

Moment’s move into lessons is reminiscent of the platform CreativeLive, founded by Seattle photographer Chase Jarvis, which teaches a variety of subjects online through live and archived video classes.

“We start with a single product and then learn from our customers,” Barros said. “What we learned very early on is that our customers came to Moment because they were going to take a trip. The thread to travel was a reason to get new gear. From this we’ve expanded our product line and offered more products in our store that live at the intersection of capturing and traveling.”

The Moment team, numbering around 40 now, also heard that customers wanted to learn and get better at shooting photos and videos. The company started by offering gear reviews and over time started sharing shooting tips.

“Lessons is our next step in moving from free to more professional content that really teaches customers how to improve,” Barros said. “We believe that how you build a direct-to-consumer business is different than even five years ago. Customers expect you to do more than one product. We are very early in photography travel and online lessons, but the initial customer feedback has us excited and encouraged.”

While Moment has pushed mobile photography and its gear for years, through multiple Kickstarter projects, Barros said the brand is much broader now, encompassing anything around photography, filmmaking and travel. As phone cameras continually improve, products will still target an audience that uses them.

“Learn With Kearns” is the first lessons set and Moment will offer a new set from different creators every few weeks, priced between $30 and $100.

“I remember when Moment was just starting, I looked up to all the people who were shooting for them — how talented they were and how I’d always wanted to be at their level,” Kearns told GeekWiree. “I’ve now done several projects with them, this being the biggest one.”

While he shoots on a variety of formats, Kearns said he is constantly tinkering and learning new things himself, and that he’s as stoked as ever on smartphone camera tech.

“The fact you can shoot the galaxy on a phone — insane,” he said. “Cell phone [images] are looking so good straight out of camera, making things simple and efficient. From a photographer’s standpoint it keeps you focused on the craft, less about the colors and post production.”

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