Disposables are the new Polaroids. The appeal lies in functionality, their analog nature making them the antithesis of the modern digital camera. Disposables embrace limited exposures, the viewfinder and not instantly judging your feigned smile. That’s the beauty. Digital cameras offer no secrets and no surprises, immediately displaying themselves, begging for instant assessment. The disposable makes you wait. The picture is hidden, only the camera knows what it saw.
Disposable cameras capture reality. Equipped with only a flash, they see any moment as it exists purely in that moment. They refuse to zoom, adjust to brightness, remove red-eye or detect your face. The picture captured is as naked and exposed as the individual. With no chance to delete or re-take, the disposable camera captures the truth. The camera achieves its goal – capturing a single vulnerable moment in all its unpolished and ugly glory. Digital cameras create fabrications of reality and memory. By allowing us to get the picture we want they allow us to create the memory we want. Disposable cameras afford no such luxury.
Digital cameras are carefully guarded possessions. The owner eyes its every movement like a hawk eyes a field mouse. Such expensive cameras are not to be lost or forgotten. They never really make the rounds at a party. Disposables, like STDs, get passed from person to person, no one ever quite knowing the journey, but somehow getting stuck with it anyway (usually in the bathroom with your pants down). The very nature of the disposable camera is to be lost and forgotten until the end of the night. The disposable knows when the party is over. It’s 3 AM, it’s spent, it’s ready to go home. Just like a whipped boyfriend it’ll come crawling back into your arms, acting all innocent and adorable.
Disposable cameras are the only cameras that get used and abused by everyone at a party (another characteristic shared with whipped boyfriends). The point of the disposable camera isn’t to take pictures – it’s to get them developed. The experience has nothing to do with being behind the lens or in front of it – the experience lies in flipping through fresh prints, unraveling its secret adventure.