FEATURE | Resurgence of the film camera aesthetic

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Amanda D. ('21)

Disposable cameras have become a popular way for TAS students to capture memories with their friends

Trends may come and go as quickly as the seasons change. Yet other aesthetics and fashion choices which have vanished for decades are now coming back in full force, a tide of oversized jeans, silk neck scarves, and chunky sneakers. In recent years, analog photography, otherwise known as film photography, has made a resurgence. Images are captured using a series of chemical processes usually preserved in film, paper, or a hard plate. Nowadays, companies such as Polaroid, Kodak, and Fujifilm dominate the instant photography market in unprecedented ways.

Instant photography was popularized by the Polaroid Onestep model released in 1977, which cemented the company in the instant photography industry. While Polaroid continued to reinvent its models to preserve this form of analog photography, Fujifilm was also enjoying its own benefits from a new model of the camera: Instax. With a charming, simple design, and a range of pastel colors, the Instax 210 model gained popularity as instant as its film, selling 6.5 million cameras in 2016.  

This trend has also reached Taipei American School students, using single-use disposable cameras or reusable instant cameras in addition to their own phones. Students have taken to Instagram to document their daily lives through these retro-style photographs. 

@thicchicpics, an account run by students Julianne V. (‘21), Mimmi S. (‘21), and Ashleigh A. (‘20), is only one of many individuals pursuing this new kind of photography. But in a world where we can take more than 50 photos to get a perfect shot, why has this slow and unfiltered way of taking photographs returned?

“Oh, it’s such a vibe. I mean, it gives the pictures a vintage feel. It’s really exciting like when you take pictures with your phone camera and then you sort of forget that you’ve taken them, and then when you go and get them developed and you see all of them you relive all those memories,” Mimmi said. 

To be environmentally conscious, if one wishes to fully immerse themselves in the hobby, it is recommended to invest in a reusable film camera instead of a disposable one. Students who worry about the complexity of using a camera that requires extra steps need not worry, as disposable cameras are often simple enough to operate. 

“It’s really easy, and not as complicated as a lot of more high tech or advanced reusable film cameras. The setup is the same as disposable ones but it’s just you can open it up, and refill it with new film after it’s done,” Julianne said. 

However, the aesthetic is only one part of why disposable cameras provide infinite enjoyability. The “instant” part of the film adds to its charm, producing photos that are both genuine and memorable. 

“It’s like capturing a specific time period in your life,” Julianne said. “So 36 pictures are just a few months of your life, and especially for us seniors, I’m going to look back on these pictures of such mundane things just sitting at school or eating lunch but I’m going to miss it so much.”