Why I Take Photos With A Disposable Camera

By December 24, 2015Uncategorized
Why I Take Photos With a Disposable Camera

Have you had those moments where you’re laughing uncontrollably or just so incredibly happy—with friends, family, or your significant other—and you wish you could freeze time?

Or those moments where you’re filled with a deep sense of clarity, and you want to keep the feeling so it doesn’t just slip away?

Well, what if I told you those moments can be saved?

And even better—You already know how to do it!! You did it before. Your parents too. Even your grandparents. But with each day, fewer and fewer people are saving memories this way, turning it into something of a novelty.

I’m talking about saving these moments with a real disposable camera. A disposable camera complete with a 35mm roll of film nestled inside of it. The only decision you need to make is whether or not the flash should be on. And with a simple slide of your index finger, it’s ON. You press down, hear the click, and roll the dial. You can’t see what you took, and you sure as hell can’t delete it.

Disposable Photograph 1

Right now, you’re probably thinking, okay, whatever. Why is this exciting?

Because I believe that disposable photos are one of the few things in this world that can truly bring people together. They’re not mindlessly consumed. They are cherished. They turn an intangible moment into a tangible, timeless object.

I first started taking disposable photos three years ago, and they have become a huge part of me. My prints are tucked safely inside a photo album that friends can see whenever they visit—an album that was once one page, and is now 40 pages thick, literally growing alongside my memories. It’s become a living window to my past.

Wait, you say. That’s sweet and sentimental—but isn’t it easier to share your digital photos? Also, can’t you take better photos with your phone, by culling the “bad” ones?

Yes. In theory. But here’s why this is worth rethinking.

1. Disposable Photos Save Your Imperfect Moments

Have you ever taken a selfie, group photo, or snapchat with your phone…and disliked it? Sure–we all have. And what did you do? You probably deleted it. MOMENT GONE.

I say, keep that unflattering photo. Why? Because it has a story.

Look at this series of photos my friend took on her phone.

Digital Image Series

Now, look at this one disposable photo.

Disposable Photograph from Coachella
Which one better captures the moment?

The disposable photograph!

Now, is it a better photo? That’s for the viewer to decide.

But I can tell you in the first series of photos, everyone is posing for a staged picture. In the disposable photo, nobody is staged—because we had no way to check and see if it was “good” or not. Everybody let loose, and we just took the photo as it was, without trying too hard to make it perfect.

And look how it turned out! One person isn’t even looking at the camera. Another two faces are blurry. Two people are jumping, arms waving.

And when I look at each of those photos, the disposable photo takes me back to that exact moment. That moment of happiness and confusion and laughter. There’s a STORY there—even just the story of us deciding how we wanted to take the photo. It’s real. It has its flaws, sure, but it’s filled with life. With one glance, I’m there again.

With the other photos? Tod Brilliant, an accomplished photographer couldn’t have said it any better

[I’m not a very bright guy about many things, but deep down, there’s a …voice that has been screaming to me “you need to A) slow down and B) remember that perfect is too often the enemy of good”.]

And that is what’s great about disposables. They aren’t perfect. You can’t delete-and-redo the shot because Stacey forgot to put her hand on her hip, or Marshall was looking at a hot girl off-camera. That baby is etched onto film as soon as the flash fills the room, and guaranteed to bring back distinct memories of the exact time surrounding the shutter’s click.

2. Disposable Photos Force You To Live In the Moment

How many times have you gone somewhere, and seen a person so hell-bent on taking photos to prove that they were there…that they forgot to actually be there?
Comic Disposable v Digital

 Full Disclosure: I’ve been that guy a time or two 😉

That’s why, three years ago, I started carrying a disposable camera with me everywhere I went. My one rule? One photo for each event.

As it turns out, there’s a direct benefit of not being able to take as many photos as you want. That benefit is living in the moment.

With my disposable, I’ve found I’m not worried about showing the Feed what I’m doing (More about the Insatiable Feed coming up). Instead, I spend my time doing. And when I have those “I wish I could freeze time right now” moments, I have my disposable in my pocket, ready to capture the masterpiece around me.

Another thing I’ve found is that each photo taken with my disposable camera holds VALUE. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, one little picture can hold the night’s story or the day’s activities—because it’s usually all I have from any given event.
Living in the Moment Twitter Button Photo

3. Disposable Photos Cannot Be Passively Consumed

Yes—it’s the digital age. Our world is rapidly, radically changing, and by now, we’re used to a) the slick technology and b) the instant feedback. But when we rush to snap a 10 second video to our friends, or upload an “artsy” and EXTRAVA- edited Instagram photo to our followers, we lose the magic of the moment.

And that’s what taking a photo is all about. CAPTURING a moment’s magic.

Today, our images are just part of a digital melting pot of other people’s experiences, trickling down a feed. And why is it called a feed, anyway, when it makes us so hungry? We quickly consume our feed’s photos and videos and find ourselves scrolling

And scrolling


And scrolling


And scrolling


Oooh, that’s cool! – Like


And scrolling


And scrolling


And scrolling

feverishly, sometimes for hours.

When we do this, we’re not cherishing what we see. Sharing’s involved (in theory), but it doesn’t feel like we’re making any real connections.

Now, let’s think about a disposable photo. It’s a little bit like your grandparents—from a different time, stubborn, and unwilling to change. It’s not willing to be part of a feeding frenzy. No, no. It won’t just show itself to your friends automatically—or easily, for that matter.

Instead, your friends have to physically come and see it.

Plus, before your friends get to see it, you have to actually go and get your photos developed! You have to hold them in your fingers while you lovingly put them into a photo album, one page for each print. You get to feel these moments concretely in your hands, and powerfully relive each memory in a multi-sensory experience.

And now, your family can do the same when they come by for dinner. Your friends can drop by for wine and Netflix, flip through the album, look at their faces, and laugh as they retell the stories for everyone to hear.

Also, guess what? If there’s a particularly special photo of you and your best friend, you can give them the photo. Can you really call tagging a friend in a Facebook photo “giving”?

When your loved ones actively flip through your physical photos, your prints become more than just part of the visual landscape. They’re real, they’re valuable, and they’re something to be cherished.


Yes, digital photos have their advantages. But when it comes to truly appreciating photos, and truly capturing moments, disposables beat digital every single time. A thousand Instagram likes aren’t even close to the feeling of sitting on a couch with your friends, looking at a photo album, while you swap stories late into the night.

Disposable Photograph

Photos are magical because they capture emotion and atmosphere. They can evoke memories of the exact moment you clicked the shutter. And with my disposable photos, I’m getting that magic back.

In the past, I’ve uploaded some of my disposable pictures to Instagram under the hashtag #DisposableADay. (Hey, this isn’t mindless sharing—I’m spreading a message!) I’m continuing that here on HUGSONNYHEY.com, on a weekly basis. I’m also accepting submissions from others–so if you want to submit a disposable photo and get entered into the weekly drawing, you’re welcome to!

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Sonny Hughey – Energetic, living in new experiences, attracting others and sharing success. Sonny holds a degree in Physics, captained his collegiate baseball team to a Conference Championship, has touched down in 3 continents, 11 countries, and 40 of the 50 states. He owns his own business ShoobyUSA and works as a Test Engineer for MTS Systems. Sonny is 25 years old.


  • Todd says:

    Great! Awesome reasons. I can see myself getting a disposable camera one of these days.

  • Lee says:

    I love disposable cameras, I use them a lot on photo shoots, I also use a range of digital cameras. It depends what mood I’m in as to what type of camera I use. Ive used disposables and been laughed at, for me it’s never about the camera it’s all about taking interesting images and having fun.

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