Sunday, January 11, 2015

Disposable (cameras)

I went super old school a few weeks ago and converted to the disposable camera. For just $14.99 from Walgreen’s you can purchase a lovely plastic box with film, flash, and no viewing display to take your very own photos.

Disposable camera photography adds a very grungy, imperfect vibe to photos that’s quite a departure from the hyper-clear photography that’s all the rage of DSLR’s. I decided to hop on the bandwagon and document a Model UN trip and the holidays with a disposable I picked up at the drug store. I’m a pretty bad photographer with just my iPhone, so needless to say the majority of the disposable camera photos came out looking like shit(ake mushrooms). It didn’t help that part of the film got damaged somehow and only 19 of my 27 exposures were developed. And of those 19, only 10 produced a viewable image. However, I really like the effect produced on the 10 photos that did work out, so I think I’ll buy a disposable again.
The Kali in her natural habitat

Candid at dinner

Too photogenic

What a hotel room birthday party looks like after everyone's left

Helping each other clean up after being ambushed by silly string

Kali behind some trippy film issues

Don't know who/what this is, but it looks cool

The foggy ballroom at the hotel

Candid ballroom rave shot

Post sinus surgery selfie (I'm covering most of my face because the swelling made me look like a hairless gorilla)

If I had a Christmas card, I'd use this photo

Some tips I have from experience with these cameras:
  • Don’t shoot in dark places as the camera sucks at picking up light unless you have the flash on and you’re super close to your subject
  • Flash is best at about 3-5 ft. away from whoever you’re photographing
  • Don’t drop the camera, expose it to high humidity, or place it under a lot of pressure because you’ll damage the film
  • Candid shots come off the best
  • Buy cameras in bulk on sites like Ebay to save money

I’m no pro at this, but if you google disposable camera photography you can find many great examples and tips, and if you’re really a pro, you can find ways to get creative with your disposable. Just make sure to tag your photos with #theyouthemisms on social media!


  1. Stephanie -- NICE PHOTOS! Haha, I enjoyed being a candid model for your film excursions.

    I've used Walgreens disposable cameras when I went to Lollapalooza, and I totally agree with you -- while I love DSLR and I'm saving up to replace the one I've had for five years, there's something about taking pictures with disposables that will never get old. Maybe it's the fact that seeing how they turn out is a total surprise since you have to not only use up all the film but also wait for them to get developed. When I took photography my freshman year, it was using the film cameras that was most exciting because its quality was never predictable.

    P.S. I will also be sure to tag my social media from now on!

  2. Being a photographer myself, I've also always appreciated disposable cameras. They remind me of my pictures when I was little! A similar theme that gives you that "vintage" or "grunge" effect is using a Holga camera. They're pretty much toy cameras that use 120 mm film and they give you a vignette effect or occasional light leaks. My photography teacher refers to them as "the original Instagram." They're very fun to experiment with and you can even buy different lenses for them! I've used fisheye and a few wide-angle lenses. I definitely recommend checking them out!

    1. I've always wanted to try a Holga camera! I've also wanted to try making a pinhole camera since they have similar effects to Holgas.

  3. I loved read this post Steph! Not only did your photos turn out better then mine ever would, but they had a sort of vintage vibe that reminded me of my childhood and baby scrapbooks. I find it very interesting however that the price of disposable cameras is so high. I seem to remember them being $5-10 when we were younger the cost as well as the DSLR / iPhone camera era that we're in right now is depriving people of the joy that is shooting on film.
    My parents have an old Canon EOS Rebel that shoots with film and I've always wanted to give it a try, maybe I'll have to soon!