Weddings don’t just unite the bride and groom. They bring together friends and family from near and far, people who have traveled through various moments of the couple’s lives. A wedding guest list is a mosaic, filled with close friends and family, distant cousins, work and school associates, old teammates from college, the neighbors who watched you grow up, and the buddies you golf with. While all these people might know the bride and groom, they don’t necessarily know each other.
Yoni Lautman wants to bring everyone at a wedding together—one small photograph at a time. When his brother and sister- in-law, Daniel and Ariel Brandt Lautman, were married a few years ago, Yoni Lautman noticed that not only the hired photographer, but nearly everyone there was taking photos with their phones. “I got curious and thought it would be cool to see all these other photos taken from different angles of the same event. But, since I don’t know these people, I wasn’t connected to them through social media like Facebook or Instagram.”
Ultimately, this inkling of an idea, fused with Yoni Lautman’s love of astronomy and space, inspired him to create Biosaic, a new photo social sharing tool for special gatherings like weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs.
Biosaic is a computer tool and smart phone application that allows attendees at events to electronically stitch their photographs to form a large-scale photomosaic of a single picture – most typically of the bride and groom.
“In college I was an earth/space science major” at Towson University, he explained. “Astronomy is my favorite thing and I love looking at the stars … It made me feel very insignificant, but then you realize there are all these little parts that make up the universe,” Lautman said. “Just like every human being, no matter how insignificant they are, contributes to something that’s larger.” That’s what Biosaic does, too. It takes dozens or even hundreds of small photographs and tiles them together to create a single large photo. Biosaic is also a family affair.
Lautman’s father, Mark, of Rockville, has been collaborating with him for three years to turn this idea into a reality. “We work extremely well together,” Mark Lautman said, noting that many of their meetings took place at the family’s dining room table.
Earlier this summer, Biosaic went live online and as a mobile app. Both Lautmans said it’s a great way to make a wedding, a bar or bat mitzvah, a family reunion or a summer vacation into something both memorable and interactive. At private community events like weddings or bar mitzvahs, each table displays a tent card that provides the electronic address for the Biosaic reserved for that particular party.
The initiator of the Biosaic – the bridal couple, for example — selects one photo that all the contributed photos will become a part of. Guests at the party log in, follow instructions on the tent cards, and upload their pictures to the photomosaic. Participants can contribute one or a few “tiles” to the larger finished product, a mosaic created by combining those pictures through color sorting automatically.
Options include photomosaics composed of 100, 225, 400 or 900 photo tiles. While Yoni Lautman works on the business end of the company, providing the vision, marketing and public relations, his father, Mark, does the back-end work on programming the website and phone app. Born in Israel, Yoni Lautman and his family came to the U.S.when he was eight.
He and three of his four brothers celebrated their bar mitzvahs at Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville and he spent a gap year in Israel after graduating from Walter Johnson High School in North Bethesda. “My father doesn’t treat me as a boss; I don’t treat him as an employee,” the younger Lautman said. “We set aside time for when I’m the son and he’s my father and we set aside time when we’re cofounders.” Yoni Lautman attributes his drive and success to the way he was raised. “My parents raised me as a Jew in a Jewish household.
We have this openness of community within the household and the way my father and I work, the way my father talks to all of his sons, that openness allows us to keep going, three years into [Biosaic]. If I had been raised any differently and there had been miscommunication, it would not have worked.”
Mark Lautman, the quintessential proud father, beams: “I’m so proud of how he has really stuck with this, and takes initiative. We identify our mistakes and correct them. He did the research and found out what we needed to do to become an incorporated business. He’s led the way. It’s been quite a journey.” Lautman the elder even notes Jewish themes in Biosaic’s concept: “There’s a biblical angle here.
The high priest wore some kind of breast plate with the names of all the tribes written on it. It was a communal symbol that the high priest represents the whole nation of Israel. “Our photomosaics have the names of all of the people at an event. In a similar way that the breast plate represents all of the Jewish people, Biosaic represents the community at a wedding or bar mitzvah.”