Photography with disposable cameras?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by ursula, May 3, 2012.

  1. ursula

    ursula Member

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    Im going to be starting a photography workshop in a few weeks that will run over the course of the summer with a small group of teenagers who are from distressed backgrounds or "disadvantaged" (a word i hate to use!)
    i did a photography course about 3 years ago, and i am aware of all the aspects of photography. i think i am pretty good at it, i wouldnt say im professional, but i do know a fair bit with regards to digital photography, and personally, i much prefer film photography. i love photography as a hobby mainly.
    unfortunately, our budget isnt going to be very high, so we are going to be using disposable cameras. i believe that any camera can take a brilliant picture, and that just because someone might have the best of the best equipment, doesn't mean they are a good photographer. but obviously, its just point and shoot on a disposable camera, and messing around with shutter speeds and apertures etc are completely out for us!

    this is a project i want to do with these kids to get them to express themselves. i mainly want them to just enjoy it and keep interest in it. im very nervous about it too. and it will be a great learning experience for me too. i have never taught something in a official kind of way. i want this to be a fun, relaxing (almost theraputic) and exciting experience for these kids. i want it to be more about them coming out of themselves rather than taking a perfect picture.

    has anyone any tips on teaching this course??
    does anyone have any tips on how to get the most out of a disposable camera??

    i bought some today and have been messing around with one around my house but wont know until they are developed what i'll be working with. i also plan on letting them edit their pictures with a free software (picassa maybe) on the community centers computers (after i scan in all of their pics!) and we are going to have a little exhibition for them at the end of the summer, just with parents and friends, something small.
    im really excited, but before i start it,i want to be prepared and any ideas, tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated! :smile:

    just a note to everyone, i was really inspired to do this after seeing a very interesting documentary a few months back. a photographer travelled to calcutta to document the red light district there. she started teaching the kids, who were children of prostitutes, photography to give them some kind of outlet. and it was well and truly worth the watch. its called Born into Brothels, and if you haven't seen it, it is definitely worthwhile! :smile:
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Sounds like an interesting and quite possibly a very rewarding project! Something kids might end up teaching adult something instead....

    I think use of disposable camera is a great idea. Not only would it not let you choose shutter speed and aperture, it actually frees you from all the technicality we all get way too involved in from time to time. What you got is a camera and your view of the world - nothing else.

    I know there are several types of these available. It might be interesting to let your kids choose color type and B&W type. I know Kodak has a C-41 B&W type. I'd imagine you'll end up getting film scanned at the lab....

    I'd actually be interested in seeing your exhibition if you can make it somehow available online.

    Is this going to be done in the United States? Maybe if you approach businesses, they can donate you some of those cameras? I bet there are expired ones available....

    Good luck to you.
     
  3. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    People only learn from being challenged and being able to use/practice what they are told. Focus solely on the creative side... posing, lighting, composition, balance, etc. because they'll have no control of anything else. Nothing is worse than being "taught something" without any control to put it to use. What they cannot practice/control is useless to them. Only teach them what they can use/practice with the tools entrusted to them. Empowerment is everything.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    By the way.... WELCOME TO APUG!!
     
  5. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    Awesome - i will be doing a similar class this summer with young kids (like 10 year olds). Disposable cameras are a great idea. I was considering making pinhole cameras...
     
  6. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Katie... for ten-year-old kids pinhole cameras are perfect but they need to learn the science and process of making their own cameras... then they need to do just that. This will deeply enrich their experience.

    CHALLENGE
    ENCOURAGEMENT
    RESPECT
    HANDS-ON
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ursula:

    Welcome to APUG.

    I don't know where you are, but if you have a local lab, this sounds like the sort of project that a lab may want to help sponsor.

    Free publicity for some developing, scanning and printing might be a real easy promotion.

    It couldn't hurt to ask.
     
  8. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    Disposable cameras are OK, but this is where a cheap digital camera might be better. Not only are the images easier to get, they are also easier to share, either with the group or the world. It is also the medium of their generation. As fun as we may find the photochemical process, it does not alway translate--and is the project of exploring and sharing their world (I hate "self-expression") or is it to learn a photographic process? If it is the former, then a digital camera is really going to free them to explore photography as a creative medium without being bogged down with technical problem, or at least fewer technical problems.

    You will need a frame work in which to focus the kids and get them to work. The trick is to make it flexible so you can adjust with the reality of the student's ability--since this is your first time, it is easy to under- or overestimate what they can do. Having an overarching goal and a way to build on skills to get there are important. I have found there are no tricks to education, just well thought out planning and the ability to adjust as the situation demands.

    I do quite a bit of instruction in imaging, desktop publishing, and design at the undergraduate level with folks outside those fields including teenagers. Children get even harder are their ability to think abstractly is developing and at some young ages, like 6 or so, then have no way to think abstractly.
     
  9. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Disposable cameras are actually more expensive and are limiting in terms of creativity. They also usually never have 36 shots either nowadays, usually 12-24. Getting rolls processed outside adds up quickly. But they are good for getting everyone their own camera instead of sharing if your plan is to let them take them home. You can hack a disposable to remove the film it has and put your own in to reuse too which will make it considerably cheaper if you load up with bw.

    If your community center has a darkroom make use of it and have the students learn to use it for b&w.

    I would recommend you to reread some of your intro to photography books again just to cover yourself if students have questions especially about the many related variables in photography. Borrow photo books from the library and show them examples of great photography and what makes it great. Expose them to varied subjects to and styles, at this age they emulate well. People these days are bombarded with too much visual garbage.

    Pinholes and camera obscuras are fun projects, I actually wrapped that up with my students this week. Fun results, we even got older students to sit for a long exposure indoors haha. The most challenging thing I find is that kids these days like instant results, or are used to snapping away 10 images at a time with their cellphones or Nintendo portables and can get carried away and before you know it half a roll is gone dedicated to one subject like a game screen or a computer, or lose interest if they can't wait to see what develops on the film a few days later.
     
  10. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    Disposable cameras can have two advantages for learners:
    - They allow to be concentrated solely on composition. So the course should be a course on composition (I suppose no artificial lighting);

    - They force to think twice before taking the pictures. Digital cameras would just yield a great number of pictures. Film cameras force the learner to analyse the scene more carefully and to give up a picture if it doesn't look good enough, and I think this is very important especially for the beginner.
     
  11. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Hello Ursula, welcome to Apug! Newt has a good plan, after all he teaches inner-city youth on a daily basis.
    I used to hold a two week summer plan through 4-H where I live, first year it was with disposable cameras. I focused on creativity, what did the kids "see" and limited them to just a couple exposures per day for first week. Second week was organizing and presentation with a show on final day, and photo albums to take home. The projects weren't returned to the kids until after the county fair at the end of summer with whatever awards the fair judges presented them.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Disposables are great, I've thought about doing the same thing with the local photo club just to get members to stop thinking about the tech stuff and start thinking about composition before dropping the shutter.

    As to getting the most out of them, there is very little to mess with, just pick one that's appropriate for where and when you will be shooting.

    For example I took a vacation to Hawaii a while back and took a dozen waterproof disposables. They worked great (in and out of the water) for all my daytime snaps (ISO 400 Kodak C41), but the type I took had no flash. It would have been nice to have had a second type with a flash for low light snaps. Like: http://www.ecamerafilms.com/Fuji_QuickSnap_p/10123442.htm

    As far as the actual class goes composition and lighting are the things that IMO can probably be taught well. Getting the students to see how the light is falling on the subject and how to manipulate the scene to get something good.

    We had a local lady talk at our club a few months back, she has had the good fortune to shoot with people like Steve McCurry and others in the travel photography biz. One of the things she learned was that when you find a good subject person, you "drag them" to a good situation. Put them in front of a good background and pose them so that they are lit nicely.

    The best shots these guys get are contrived, not candid.

    There are lots of examples of great photographers who apply this thought. Jose Villa, a sucessful modern wedding photographer applies similar principles, Henri Cartier-Bresson did too, picking a setting and then waiting for the right thing to happen in that setting, the decisive moment if you will. Hurrell, Karsh, Joe McNally, ... the list can go on and on.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi ursula -

    welcome to apug!

    you can reload disposable cameras if you take them apart ( just remove the cardboard )
    if you want to load it with your own film after you use the supplied roll. labs remove the
    cardboard, remove the film and send them back to the company. i have a friend who hiked
    the appalachian trail ... he used his own self rolled black and white and reloaded ... it worked great !

    before you buy the "wedding pack" of disposable cameras, i would buy a few and try them out,
    so YOU know the limitations of the equipment. some do well close up, some far away, and some in the mid-range.
    i agree 100% with old n'feable .. work on aesthetics, not subjects ...

    have fun !
    john

    (google wedding disposable camera and you will probably find a few people selling them ... built in flash is OK but usually over powers the
    film if the subject isn't 10-12 feet away )
     
  14. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    Thinking before taking a picture has nothing to do with the camera and everything to do with the photographer. (Disposable cameras certainly have never been burdened with the moniker of the thinking-man's camera.)
     
  15. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    Welcome Home Ursula !

    If you are located in the U.S., you might want to check your local
    Target Store, if they have a Photo Center. My local store processes
    35mm 36 exposures, and also provides an Index Print, and a CD, for $2.99.

    I'm not sure if they would be an additional charge for a disposable camera.
    And possibly ask the manager if the could offer a discount for the service.

    Enjoy The Weekend !

    Ron
    .
     
  16. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Pleased to see a new memebr, particualrly one who aims to teach kids.

    If you plan on reloading disposables, check out this path in advance.

    The few that I have played with reloading use a standard 35mm cassette, but it has a non standard central spool.

    One end of the spool has a one way ratchet style coupling to mate with the edge of the film advance thumb wheel.
    So you need to reload onto that spool. This could slow you down in terms of relaoding a whole class worth's of cameras one night.

    Otherwise I wish you all the best with your education project.
     
  17. ursula

    ursula Member

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    WOW! thanks everyone ! lots of great tips! thanks a million to everyone!!! im at the other side of the pond in ireland.

    @hikari - our budget is very low, so a cheap digital camera here is about 35euro, even ebay. i would need about 8 - 10 of them too, so that option is out unfortunately. i also dont think the kids would take it as seriously and also it cuts out joke shot and stuff like that. if they can only take a certain amount of shots, theyll be a bit more cautious, and want to do the shot right - well, im hoping to teach them that anyway, :smile: plus, going from my own experience, developing a film of pics i took is much more rewarding than looking at the back of a screen.
    i am a bit concerned about the cost of developing tho. i actually have a film scanner, so if its possible just to get the negatives from disposable cameras (which is only about 3 - 4 euro here) i have no problem scanning the pictures in myself. i lost my job about 4 months ago, so i have plenty of time to do it and it will keep me busy! :smile:

    you have all mentioned things i haven't thought of. we do have a photolab in our town, so ill look into the cost of that. i do know materials are quite expensive tho! :sad:

    @ Newt - and the pinhole camera is a great idea!! the problem is is that i have never worked with a pinhole camera, and i dont know enough about it to be confident with it to teach others. the course is starting in about 3 weeks or so, so i dont think theres time for me to get to know how to use it properly. for now, since this is my first teaching experience, i want to stick with what i know :smile: i do have tons of photography books too, and have been looking through them for the past few days and bookmarking photos i personally like, so i can show them my own preferance, they can look through them and pick their own favourites. i want to express how broad photography is, that its not all "top model" stuff, and that it can be anything. hopefully to build up their own confidence and individuality, but i will check out the library too!! for sure! also, maybe ireland is behind the times, lol, but i actually have come across a lot of cameras with 36 exposures, but if i could find cheaper ones with a less amount of exposures, maybe i could give them a camera every fortnight or so, and use them for different themes! :smile: again, depending on cost!!!

    @markberandy - thanks to you too! the link you posted doesnt load up for me, but you're right, it is all about the composition, lighting etc. we'll be having our classes during the day, so im hoping the weather is good this year. (last year, here in ireland, we only got about 2-3 weeks of sunshine during the summer, the rest was rain and clouds!!!)

    And i NEVER knew you could reload a disposable camera, and a valuable thing to know as i would love to use black and white film with them too!!! i was relying on software to do black and white, but the real thing is much better. going to experiment with the cameras i bought!


    @tkamiya - with regards to the exhibition work being online - i never even thought of that either. what a great idea. ill have to talk to the project leaders, but if there was a link on their website that could bring you to the gallery or something. i know someone who can do websites too so VERY interesting idea :wink:
    just a bit of extra info, the organisation im working with is one that helps and supports family members of prisoners or affected by imprisonment.
    even though the exhibition probably wont be until the end of august, i will definitely let everyone know about! :smile:
     
  18. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Do a search for disposable cameras, the link I sent was to e camera films; they are in the USA but the cameras are $3 US for Fuji with flash.
     
  19. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Good luck and please be careful when taking them apart especially the flash models as the capacitors can easily discharge if you touch the circuit board even if you have taken out the battery. Discharge the flash by winding on and depressing the shutter and taking out the battery quickly after, you can also use a insulated metal object to bridge the capacitor as well. Take them apart after you are finished with the roll as your film will be rolled in, its much harder to do it in the dark or a bag on an unexposed camera.

    Some do have a teeth/gear style center post which makes using regular reloadable cassettes impossible. You can ask your photo lab for canister discards. You can easily tell them apart as the have very plain solid color text logos and have the toothed gearing on top.

    Pinhole photography is very easy to play with, and very cheap to get started. Just a tube or a box and metal or foil to poke a needle through, having a darkroom though is important. (unless you build a afgan camera pinhole)

    Keep things simple to start out if you are focusing on composition. Things like keeping subjects off center, watching out not to cut off top of heads, or hands, or if they want to, tell them where would be a good place to (not at the wrists or ankles lol). Teach them to use the whole frame up from top to bottom. If using the disposables make them aware of parallax and show them a diagram of both field of view from viewfinder and lens on upclose subjects. I do this when using compacts, will save you trouble later haha. Good luck!
     
  20. cscurrier

    cscurrier Member

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    As I first started reading your post, I was totally thinking Born into Brothels!! I'm happy you have seen it as it's a great inspiration and those children were able to prove their creativity despite the limitations they had. I first saw this doc when it premiered in the US. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

    I think disposables are the way to go for an introduction, as it forces them to focus on composition and the subject manner. Many people forget that the subject is the most important part of an image and how it is presented within the photo. And by using film, it will teach great patience and focus to create that image!

    As far as purchasing disposables... I highly recommend staying away from cameras that aren't name brand (Fuji, Kodak...) or those who don't already have a solid reputation or guarantee attached to it. At work, I've developed many of the "wedding pack" cameras jnanian mentioned earlier and also many no-name branded cameras that actually had NO film negative inside the cartridge loaded into the camera or even film pieces that were poorly spliced together, often ruining many images. I assume this "company" acquired short ends of some sort and just slapped them together for their cameras. Just some precautions to be aware of.
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi ursula,

    No matter what you do, you will have success. A local family did a similar project for kids in Haiti giving them regular film cameras to work with and black and white film, teaching them darkroom work as well.

    Know that doesn't match your plan as you described. But the thought occurred to me. You might give the kids real cameras (that could be donated to you) that they can load with film (could be expired). The kids might get to keep the cameras if they want. Then they might have a chance to continue if it sparks a passion.
     
  22. ursula

    ursula Member

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    thanks Bill burk. going to have a look into a few local camera shops around town, see if they are willing to donate. our town is pretty small so we only have 3 camera shops. :D but great idea anyway. thanks a mill!! keeping all of these great ideas written down! great help! :smile:
     
  23. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Teach them to use the viewfinder and not hold the camera out at arm's length like a digital.

    I find it amusing that a whole generation of people now take photos like that.

    Prints are mich more interesting to share and critique than computer images. Plus you can tape them up.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG