Our Mission at
Cheezoo

Cheezoo is on a mission to make professional photography accessible to everyone…through your phones! You can make extra cash as a portrait photographer with the incredible Cheezoo app and the camera on your phone, or you can book an affordable phone photographer for your next portrait session using the Cheezoo app on your phone!

A Brief Summary of Our Intentions at Cheezoo

We know that not everyone will make time to watch the 7 minute video above, so here’s a summary of the most important points.

What Does “Professional Photographer” Mean?

Do you remember when you started your career as a professional photographer? Your prices were lower, your gear wasn’t fancy, and you had little-to-no experience. The images you were creating probably weren’t so great – or at least not consistently.

Did that make you by definition any less “professional”? Nope. You were still an individual who was developing their skills and charging for those skills – a “professional” by definition. You were just a less expensive, less fancy, less experienced professional photographer – trying to make a go of it.

We understand that it might feel odd to see our content and ads stating someone can be a professional photographer with just the camera on their phone and the Cheezoo app, but please keep things in perspective. We’re simply trying to provide a photographic service to those that can’t afford an established, experienced professional photographer – and enabling those with a very capable tool in their phone’s camera to provide those very services. 😊

Cheezoo Intro Screen

The Road to Launch

For those of you entrepreneurs-at-heart who might be curious what it’s taken to get Cheezoo to launch day, I thought I’d share a bit of the backstory and development process of the Cheezoo app.

It All Starts on Paper

Discussions about the big ideas behind Cheezoo began in late 2014 or early 2015. The problem to solve: how to deliver affordable professional photography to the masses. Initially, the thought was to contract photographers across the country, but that seemed like a logistical nightmare.

The alternative: leverage the ever-developing technology of smartphones and their amazing cameras to more effectively deliver a solution to the problem – at scale.

Here is a super simple initial drawing from early 2015.

Mockup of Cheezoo screens from 2015

From Paper to Screens

The next step was to mock up the app (code-named “Rocky”, at the time) with working screens. This is a screenshot from an 18 minute video I sent to my business partners in March of 2015, walking them through the basics of the app. Thanks for your contribution, Tom Cruise.

Before Cheezoo, there was Miilu

My intention was to ease into a paradigm shift like Cheezoo with a platform designed for wedding professionals. Miilu was an app designed to enable photographers, coordinators, and their clients to collaborate on timelines and shot lists as they planned for weddings. It incorporated many of the features that we ended up building into Cheezoo.

We ended up tabling the project.

The event home screen for Miilu
A more yellow version of the early Cheezoo app

Yellow?! Whose Idea Was That?!

You can thank me now for getting rid of the yellow! Early versions of Cheezoo were mocked up with this odd, mustard color, and I’m so glad we got rid of it!

Development Begins

We connected with a new development company in the fall of 2021, and design and development began as we moved into 2022. Fortunately for everyone, the yellow was gone, and we ended up with a wonderfully simple design as a result of collaboration between many.

The simply beautiful Cheezoo home screen
Beta testing of Cheezoo begins

Things Don’t Go As Expected

I posted this story to Instagram the evening of October 25, 2022 after a wonderful dinner and first beta testing session with an intimate group at my favorite Chattanooga restaurant. Little did I know it would actually be almost a year before we would actually launch the Cheezoo app. Such is entrepreneurship, and especially app development.

Finally in the App Store!

On August 20, 2023 – over 8 years since I first mocked up the Cheezoo concept – we finally saw the Cheezoo app in the Apple App Store. Even then, there was weeks more work to do – refining the UI and UX, ironing out bugs, and yes, removing the fee for downloading the app!

The first version of Cheezoo in the Apple App Store
Beta testing of Cheezoo begins

What does “Cheezoo” mean?!

I grew up in Japan, and in Japanese culture, they use incredible amounts of English – just pronounced with a Japanese accent. Traditionally, when we take a picture, we say “Cheeeeeese!” In Japan, they say “Cheezoo!” – or in the Japanese Katakana writing: チーズ!

A Special Thanks…

Developing an app and the brand to go with it is an incredibly difficult task, and a lot of times the people doing the heavy lifting don’t get to be in the spotlight. I need to highlight a few of the people who have played important roles in making Cheezoo a reality!