Photo Hack Day highlights rise of NY hacking culture

Come August 20 and 21, the next Instagram and Hipstamatic could emerge in New York City, ready to do battle in the increasingly tough photo app market. Those are the dates for the Photo Hack Day billed as the largest photo hackathon and organized by Aviary, a provider of online editing tools for developers.

The event will welcome more than 100 developers to General Assembly to see what they can do in two days using open APIs. The goal is to foster new ideas and encourage quick innovation in photo applications. The top three winners will get undisclosed cash prizes, while the first place winner will get their app featured on the Times Square billboard of the Nasdaq, which has joined as the top sponsor for the event. There will also be individual prizes for teams that make the best apps using various APIs from participating companies such as Flickr(s yhoo),, Twilio and 500px.

The hack day has managed to gain a lot of support in New York City, with local companies like Foursquare, Etsy, Tumblr and Canvas joining other sponsors such as Bigstock, MoPho, Shutterstock, Pixable for the event. Many of them are suggesting ideas like Etsy, which would like to see an app that lets people swap their faces into clothes listings so people can see how certain items would look on them.

Alex Taub, head of business development at Aviary, said he believes real ideas and businesses can emerge from Photo Hack Day and points to the emergence of GroupMe, a New York City group messaging app that got started at TechCrunch Disrupt’s hackathon in New York City last year. He said photos are ripe for innovation because with the advances in cellular networks, photo sharing has become almost as quick and simple as text messaging.

Stepping back, Photo Hack Day is just one of many hackathons and hacking events that are taking root in New York City. The last year alone has seen big events like Music Hack Day, Game Hack Day and most recently, there was a New York hack day called “Reinvent”, all of which were held at General Assembly. Coming up, there’s a video hackday called next month. And there are too many other hacking events happening around the city to mention here.

Taub said the rise of hackathons highlights the increasing tech prowess of New York City, which is building a culture of engineering to match its growing reputation as a tech hub. “This is one way I think New York can attract more developers is having a great developer community,” said Taub. And it’s further encouraging local developers to build stuff, something that can perhaps lead to a break-out start-up that can ultimately get listed on the Nasdaq.

Developers and designers can register for free here.