When I first went to summer camp ten years ago, my parents sent me off with two disposable cameras to document my stay. Usually, the pictures would suck. Too dark, fuzzy, with a pinkish blob in the corner that was my thumb. Now, of course, “film” is a quaint notion; a trendy pursuit that shows your disdain for the masses of drones using digital.
Just to get things straight: digital is awesome. I am extremely grateful that I can take a well lit, clear photo and immediately check it to see if I like it. But the power of nostalgia is strong. I missed film. When my trusty 35mm Minolta decided to break two days before my trip to Barcelona, I decided to give in and buy two disposable cameras. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture above, but these were ghetto. Big, clunky, yellow, with a bright photo of a hot air balloon. They were perfect.
Using a disposable camera gives you both ultimate freedom and complete restriction. At first it stressed me out that I couldn’t take twelve versions of that tree until I got the lighting just right. Just 24 photos. One click, one shot. No zoom, no focus, no ISO number, no exposure time, no light meter, no second chance. I ended up treasuring my exposures too much; I had photos left over after I came back from Barcelona.
When I finally saw the developed film, I felt a rush of affirmation. Most of the pictures sucked. But there were a few, a precious few that I loved more than all my digital photos combined. It reminded of me of that feeling when your parents tell you they have a surprise for you. Chances are that it will end up being a let-down, but there is always the chance that they got it right.
This series was taken while bird-watching. We dared Zach to climb the tower. He did, and celebrated with the universal gesture of victory. Notice my thumb-blob in the corner.