Long before electronics like cell phones or digital cameras came onto the scene, film cameras were the norm. Despite all of those innovations, disposable cameras were and currently are a simpler, low-tech solution to picture taking. If straightforward use of a disposable camera is "too predictable," here are 20 innovative ways to make disposable camera photography even more liberating:
1. Cameras in Motion
Instead of holding the camera still, try snapping photos while jiggling it or sweeping it from right to left, or up and down.
2. Play "Pass the Camera"
Bring a disposable camera when heading out with a group of friends, and make sure everyone gets a chance to take a photo or two.
3. Fun with Lens Filters
Just about anything translucent can be a camera filter; experiment with taping waxed paper or coloured cellophane over the lens and see what happens. Smear gel or oil over the lens, mist it with water, and snap away for artistic photos. Use anything that's handy: sunglasses, coloured glass bottles, gauze; colouring the lens with a coloured marker can yield fascinating results, too.
4. Fun With Flash Filters
Flash filters work in the same basic manner as lens filters and can yield some very interesting results. Use just about any translucent sheet or substance to cover the filter and colour the lighting when the flash goes off.
5. Remove the Shutter
Removing the camera shutter can allow you to take longer exposures, and even double or triple exposures.
6. Make a Time Capsule
Consider loading the camera with images of your life now, then put it away to be developed six months, one year or five years from now. Marvel at how much you and your life has changed (or hasn't changed) since then.
7. Anonymous Photos
Take the disposable camera to a well-trafficked area and leave it with instructions that passers-by take one photo, then leave it for the next person to find. Check the camera each day until it is full of mystery photos, and see what develops.
8. Damage the Camera (Safely)
Try submerging the camera in water, freezing it, warming it, poking a few holes in it, or dropping it a few times. If you're afraid of the potential consequences, limit the damage to just the lens. Remember to use proper safety precautions while damaging the camera.
9. Mail it Around
Pack the camera into a small box along with instructions and ship it to someone who will likely participate; have each person take a creative photo, then ship the camera forward to someone else who is likely to participate. Tape a sticker on the camera that says, "When full, mail to:" followed by your home address. Have fun developing the well-travelled results!
10. Creative Distortion
Experiment with placing different clear glasses over the lens to create a fisheye (or reverse fisheye) effect.
11. Join a Disposable Camera Exchange
Find camera exchanges online and get involved -- or create your own. Meet people from around the world and see the world through their eyes -- and show them a bit of your world, too.
12. Windshield Effects
Some cars have a tinted windshield that can make for a great filter, and shooting while the car is in motion can make for even more fortuitous results.
13. Make it "Waterproof"
Wrap the camera in several layers of plastic and seal it with sturdy tape from the back; use it while snorkeling, or take some underwater lake, pond or fish tank photos.
14. Score "Bonus Photos" or Double Exposures
Extra photos and double-exposures are possible with disposable cameras. One should turn on the flash, then hit the camera back vigorously with the palm of one hand, while its lens faces toward the desired photo subject.
15. Pre-Fab Textures
Experiment with placing different grades and thicknesses of screens, gauze and other textured coverings over the lens to create an instant pattern or geometric effect.
16. Fun with Young Kids
Bring a disposable camera to a child's birthday party and let the kids play photographer.
17. Rainstorm Reporting
The next time there's a heavy rain or monsoon, head outside and snap what you see.
18. Lens Lacquer
Slather the lens with clear nail polish, let it harden, then snap away.
19. Nighttime City Effects
Capture stunning contrast in an urban environment with moving, changing evening light effects. From red brake lights from passing traffic to flashing neon signs, the unpredictability of a disposable camera can only be enhanced by these urban night effects.
20. Expired Film Creativity
Is the film in your disposable camera expired, or can you find some expired cameras at a discount? Use them anyway and enjoy the fascinating and often beautiful colour changes that expired film can create.
While you might favour a compact camera bundle for everyday photography, disposable camera photography can provide a fun, creative diversion.