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The Comeback of Disposable Cameras & What that Says About Today’s Pop Culture

It is a general assumption that almost everything makes a comeback within popular culture. Whether its fashion trends such as tube tops or low-rise jeans (a nightmare), or even technology such as record players, polaroids and film cameras. 


record player
Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

One device that has recently made a comeback is the disposable camera. These cameras are a seemingly tedious interest with the introduction of digital cameras, smartphones and even a new app, coined Dispo, created by Youtuber David Dobrik that mimics a disposable camera. Despite the fact that these cameras are practically useless, many have fed into the popularity, including myself. 

Over the past six months I have bought 10 plus disposable cameras; with those I have filled a 30 x 40 Michael’s canvas and have at least 50 extra photos stored in my drawer. I was tempted to buy a disposable camera from a TikTok influencer; which matches the rise of most recent trends. 


tiktok on iPhone
Photo by Kon karampelas from Unsplash

Although this has been a quite expensive and time consuming hobby, I am extremely thankful for that TikTok. Looking back on these pictures reminds me of moments from my senior year of high school with my friends that I will never be able to capture again. Of course there is the obvious option of just taking a picture with my phone and printing, but this would be much less fun. 

There is an exciting nature of taking a picture and not knowing what it will look like or if you can even see anything from it. Or leaving the camera somewhere around a group of people and coming back to zero photos left. Their tediousness is what makes them interesting. Waiting weeks for photos causes you to completely forget what you even captured. 

In today’s society there is an expectation that every picture has to be perfect. We spend hours looking at photos we just took, observing every single detail. Many use editing apps to perfect their look until they feel “acceptable” for societal standards. 


Three neon signs that say "perfect" in different colors
Photo by Johnathan Hoxmark from Unsplash

With a disposable this option is taken away, sometimes giving you a feeling of fear but ultimately filling the user with a sense of freedom. After a disposable photo is taken and the flash goes off that’s it, although I love taking photos or videos with my phone at almost every event I attend, I will admit that many moments are lost because of the obsession with perfection when it comes to photos. Disposables eliminate this obsession.

There is also an aspect of nostalgia that fills you with joy. I have memories from when I was little, and my older family members taking photos of me with disposable cameras. I would pose and then be blinded by the flash. I knew I could not see the picture because it wasn’t like the other cameras that my parents would use. Pulling out a disposable camera reminds me of those times when there was no stress and the only worry for my future was when my parents would make me go to bed.

This feeling that is given by disposable cameras speaks to why they are so popular. A big part of pop culture is nostalgia. Every trend circles back, and disposable cameras are simply another reborn trend (just remarkably better than tube tops and low rise jeans). As society drastically changes, people often look for something to hold onto that reminds them of the way things “used to be.” 


phone screen with social media apps
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

With the introduction of social media these “unfiltered” moments are becoming increasingly rare. Despite the many blessings of social media it has created a toxic environment, especially for those who have grown up surrounded by it. Disposable cameras are used as a form of escapism, serving as both a nostalgic hobby as well as a distraction from over-edited and over-analyzed photos.

 

Source: 1

Photos: Her Campus Media 

Jordyn Habib

American '24

Jordyn is in her second year at American University double majoring in CLEG and Arab World Studies. She writes about anything in terms of politics, DC news and history, as well as pop culture. She is also a section editor for Her Campus and involved with American's high school model UN conference.
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