Why disposable cameras are rising in popularity

By Emily Orman

A film camera that requires professional developing seems anything but convenient in today’s world. The United States is living in a constant state of technological growth, where new phones are being released and robots are entering the everyday world. As increasingly complex technology continues to flood the market and become a staple in our lives, there is a 1990’s classic making a quiet comeback: the disposable camera. 

Teenagers have been drawn to the disposable camera which is surprising given the “screenager” stereotype they hold. The choice to carry a camera that can take only 27 pictures and take weeks to develop seems out of place in our digital culture but, looking deeper, it gives an experience that the ubiquitous camera phone does not. Ana Henneman, a sophomore attending Bend High recently bought her first disposable camera. She thought it would be a fun experience and after shooting her first couple of pictures with it said, “The photos are more memorable since you don’t take 30 of the same picture like you do on your phone just to never look back at them.” She also noticed how meaningful it was to have a physical copy which has become something of a rarity now that we simply upload our pictures to social media. 

Year after year, we are bombarded with new shocking truths of global warming. . This raises the question of how single use cameras impact the crumbling environment. Many disposable cameras contain batteries which are extremely difficult to discard. This, combined with the plastic case that is almost always sent to the landfill, adds up rapidly. However, when the film is sent in to be developed, the main camera itself is fixed up alongside the flash and other internal technologies are reused many more times. Even though they may not be the most eco-friendly, they are certainly not as damaging as the other plastic objects that are thrown into the landfill.  

David Dobrik, a famous Youtube star, is known for using disposable cameras. He launched a instagram account specifically for his film pictures, @davidsdisposable which features over a hundred pictures of his adventures alongside his friends and has a following of around 2 million. As a social media influencer, he has a heavy impact on millions of people which could certainly motivate them to try a disposable camera and increase the popularity.  

The fact that teenagers are slowing down and taking the time to decide what pictures really are important shows how these cameras have impacted society. When there are only 20 pictures to capture days of memories, one must think more about the importance of each picture. The developed film radiates “retro vibes” and “vintage” which is becoming a trend along with the cameras. Some of these vintage items include mom jeans, Dr. Martens and even bell bottom pants. 

Sophomore Wesley Gilbride and her friends have started taking pictures on disposable cameras this past year. Gilbride bought her first camera back in February when they began to become trendy and says that the suspense that is created from waiting for the picture results made her even more excited to see them. She also said that looking back on the pictures that were taken months before can remind you of the times you spent shooting the pictures. “Sometimes you remember the exact moment when you took it, and it brings you back to the memory.” This is in contrast to taking pictures on the smartphone, where one can take hundreds of pictures in a burst, each one the same as the next. Gilbride also said that the quality of the photos wasn’t superior or more clear to those on the phone, she just prefers the film and vintage aspect, as well as the lighting that it captures. 

Disposable cameras will surely fade in and out of style, but their pictures and memories will not.  Whether more teens will try the cameras remains to be seen, but those who decide to continue with the trend will certainly create even more lasting memories. As our society continues to develop and expand, the newer generations are sure to be even more drawn to phones. However, as trends come and go, the teenage culture is sure to include remnants of the past decades within. 

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