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We creative types are always looking for those little pangs of extra inspiration, whether it comes from books, software plugins, or smartphone apps.

Today at PhotoPlus Expo, Paul Pierson Apps announced a brand new iPhone app called “Canon Idea Mind.” Created by graphic design and branding whiz Paul Pierson of NYC-based Carbone Smolan Agency in conjunction with Canon, this cool little app is designed to inspire pro photographers by distilling creative ideas into condensed visual flash cards you can save and use to help drive inspiration for your shoot.

The app’s home screen presents you with a set of fields where you specify what, where, and when you want to photograph. You then fill in fields that correspond to conceptual ideas about your proposed shoot and what feelings or moods you want to convey. Or, if you need additional ideas, you hit the “randomizer” button and let the app fill in concepts for you.

When all the fields are complete, you hit “Done,” and the app spits out a graphic visual promo that matches the parameters of your shoot. You can save this image to share with fellow creative conspirators and/or use it to come up with specific ideas that might help you motivate and plan for your shoot.

Drawing from the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words, Canon Idea Mine comes at it from the other side, using words to inspire images. It’s definitely an original, idea-provoking machine, and even better, it’s free. I wondered where Canon actually fits in the mix, since their name is associated with it. Apparently the final release will include a link to the Canon Digital Learning Center. It’s designed as a portal into their brand; a PR piece, as it were.

Canon or not, I see this one being pretty popular with just about every style of photographer. I like the format, and it’s a fun, well-executed design. I’m a Nikon guy, and I’ll definitely get this one when it comes out.

Don’t tell Nikon.


Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.