Disposable cameras make comeback, capture memories


Photo credit: Anna Lo

Mizuki Kai, Editor-In-Chief

Senior Paige Hoffer keeps her disposable camera in the glove box of her Infiniti so that she won’t miss any photo-worthy moments. This January, her prepared-ness paid off.

I was happy I had my camera in the car when I went to go see my friend who lives in Tomball,” Hoffer said. “There are so many cool places like the plant shop, Terrarium, in one of the pictures I took.”

Persuaded by her friend’s own disposable pictures, Hoffer bought her first green Fujifilm camera at CVS for $12 last November. Though the pandemic has slowed down her pace, she’s gone through three cameras so far. 

I just took some pictures on it in Galveston at sunset so I’m hoping those will be my favorite pictures yet,” Hoffer said. “Otherwise, I’d say I really like the picture I took of my friend Simi.”

Though Hoffer feels that getting the film developed can be a pain sometimes as they need to be sent through mail, she enjoys the idea of using a real camera rather than her iPhone. She gets physical copies of her photos and keeps them in her room.

“I imagine myself looking at them later in life, and there’s something sweet and nostalgic about having a concrete record of this time in my life,” Hoffer said. “Especially during the pandemic, I have to create things to look forward to. The anticipation of getting the film back is exciting.”

Once a vacation-essential for families, disposable cameras now appeal to a new generation: teenagers. Senior Winnie Tardy was inspired to buy a disposable camera when she was on Instagram and VSCO, social media apps where she saw others share their own disposables.

“I thought a disposable camera would be cool to bring when hanging out with friends or doing any activity that was good for a photo op,” Tardy said. “I think my favorite part about them is the mystery of not knowing what the picture looks like until you get it developed. It takes around two weeks to get film developed at most places, and by the time I get my images back, I’ve almost forgotten what I shot pictures of. It’s so fun to look through them and have the memories flow back to me.”

Tardy now shares the memories she captures with her 131 followers on her Instagram page @filmbywinnie, an account specifically made for her film camera pictures. 

“I used four disposable cameras before I switched to a basic point-and-shoot film camera, which is much more sustainable,” Tardy said. “I’ve probably shot around 80 images. The camera I have right now is super easy and affordable, but if I get more into taking pictures, I plan on upgrading to a nicer film camera.”

After seeing YouTuber David Dobrik’s disposable camera photos, senior Anna Lo decided to buy a camera for herself. To compile and share the pictures that are developed, she created an Instagram account. 

“Since I love taking photos of everyone, it seemed cooler than taking pictures on a phone,” Lo said. “I’m always breaking my phone, so I’m constantly losing all of my photos. The easiest way for me to keep them together is to post them on Instagram. It’s also a fun way to share it with everyone in the photos instead of sending it through Snapchat.”

Lo has since bought five more cameras, her collection now amassing over 115 photos.

“When people get the disposable pictures, they treasure it more than just getting digital or phone pictures,” Lo said. “It also makes me put more thought into what I’m taking a picture of since there are only 27 photos in a camera. I love the way the photo comes out – with the colors and grain. It makes the photo seem older, so it’s got a more nostalgic feeling to it.”