Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

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The invention of COVR, a right angle iPhone lens

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The invention of COVR, a right angle iPhone lens

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by Michael Robinson Chavez, Los Angeles Times

I met Thomas Hurst while we were students at San Francisco State University in the early 1990s. The photojournalism program there was well respected, and more important, we had the city of San Francisco as our laboratory. Thomas and I both dove headfirst into the city. We ended up working together at the Boston Globe for a time before Thomas left for Seattle.

We lost contact for several years while I moved to Washington, D.C., and eventually back home to California to work for the Los Angeles Times. Thomas and I are both lovers of street photography, so when he sent me an email about the COVR photo lens case, an iPhone lens he had invented, I was intrigued and happy to try it out.

COVR is a right angle lens that allows a photographer to disguise where the camera is pointed. Thomas started a Kickstarter campaign and has raised money to increase production.

I shot the photographs in the above-gallery with COVR and included a Q&A with Thomas below:

What was the inspiration behind COVR? Why did you invent it?

I created COVR after my wife, Angela, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer at age 37. With an unknown outcome, it became my mission to make sure that we had every tool needed to document Angela’s love and passion for our three young boys so that as they grew they would always be able to remember her.

One of the frustrationscovr2-400px I ran into immediately was that with a 1½ year old always in her arms, Angela needed a way to shoot pictures and video on her iPhone with one hand, because she rarely had both hands free and the boys were always changing their expressions as soon as she pointed the phone at them.

A few days later, I was thinking of how I could solve this problem for her while I was watching a ballgame on TV. As I bounced between stations during commercials, it dawned on me that if Angela could hold her phone in one hand and shoot pictures the same way I was pointing my TV remote at the television, with one hand using my thumb to press the bottom, she wouldn’t miss so many special moments. The COVR photo lens case was born.

How do you see people using COVR as a photographic tool? And what kind of impact do you think it may have on professional photography?

COVR Photo is exactly that, a photographic tool that provides an immediate secondary option. I’ve built it with the intention of solving four distinct problems we all need to address when we use our iPhone to take photos and videos.

• Always ready — Snap. Just like that, a special moment or amazing photo is missed because you couldn’t get to your camera quick enough. Today, the best camera we have is the one we have with us, and almost everyone is carrying a camera phone.

• More choices — COVR is designed so that you have a choice between taking a photo with the standard iPhone lens or slide the COVR photo lens forward and allow yourself to capture your images and videos from a different angle, with a different look.covr1-400px

• Easier to hold and shoot — Apple designed the iPhone so that it could be used in the easiest possible way: cradled in one hand and operated with your thumb or a finger from your other hand. COVR Photo has extended this same natural position principal and functionality to taking pictures with your iPhone.

There is no need to hold your phone up when capturing a moment. Keeping your phone steady and with just a slide of the lens you are now able to capture a real moment when it happens.

• Subtle and unobtrusive — This matters because whether you’re a photographer documenting the hard streets of New York or Beijing, or a dad or mom trying to shoot a video of your kids in the midst of some lovable mischievous moment, being able to keep your camera phone in a less obvious position helps to not interrupt the uniqueness of what is unfolding before you.

Do you think people may be a little worried about privacy issues?

We all know that some people will inevitably use COVR in ways that, as the founder, I’ll cringe at. These people are already behaving shamelessly with other smartphones and technologies as we speak. COVR is a tool for parents, grandparents, friends, world travelers, aspiring photographers and professionals to capture moments of their kids and the amazing world around us.

When will the general public be able to buy one?

Our desire is to have COVR available shortly after we’ve delivered to all our KickStarter backers, and then we’ll aim to have COVR ready for everybody.

Are there plans to make them for Android and other mobile devices?

IPads? Yes, I can’t wait to get an Android model into people’s hands, but I can’t share much on that right now. I will share that we already have our design and prototype for the iPhone 4/4s and are doing as much pre-planning as we can to be ready for the iPhone 6.


Where do you mobile device photography being in two years?

There is so much happening in the way of mobile devices, mobile manufacturing of accessories and development of mobile apps that it feels as if the sky is the limit. Even now, the ability to take an image, digitally process it in an app such as Snapseed and then deliver it to anyplace or anyone in the world is phenomenal. The limitations at this time are options and choices.

Manufactures dictate important factors in making photographs — placement of the lenses, lens quality and the parameters of the lens. Once we get pass some of these limitations, we will begin to see people using mobile device photography to share more of the world.

PHOTOS: COVR photo lens case credit: John Lok

1 Comment

  1. August 15, 2014, 2:19 pm

    Almost perfect, but I would not buy this because I prefer to hold the phone camera only with my left hand when taking pictures, and thus will have a hard time pressing the Volume +/- buttons with my big left thumb.

    After years of doing iPhoneography, I’ve learned to avoid cases with cutouts like this because they slow me down significantly and are literally a pain in the wrist.

    By: Ian Bui

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