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10 Tips for Capturing Amazing Photos with Disposable Cameras
By Emma Lloyd
Whether you're a seasoned photographer or just starting out, these 10 tips will help you get the most out of your disposable camera and capture amazing shots.
Reusable 'disposable' cameras
There are lots of disposable cameras available on our website, loaded with some of your films- from Ilford XP2, HP5, Kodak Tri-x or even some waterproof disposable cameras, there are plenty to try for every occasion.
You may notice on our website under disposable cameras there are actually a few that can be re-used. Whilst disposable cameras are great for weddings, parties festivals and for capturing your memories on film, we always encourage investing in a camera that can be re-used- it is kinder to the planet, and to your wallet!
Lomography have met us in the middle here, with their simple-use cameras. Their function and design is very similar to disposable cameras, except for they can be reloaded. They come pre-loaded with some of Lomography's classic, black and white, colour and Lomochrome films, and after they have been shot can be loaded with whatever you fancy!
Some of the simple-use cameras also come with coloured gels, so you can experiment with coloured flashes and different lighting, to get some very funky and unusual shots!
1. Experiment with lighting
Lighting is one of the most important factors in photography, and it's no different when it comes to disposable cameras. Try taking photos in different lighting conditions, such as early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and more golden. You can also experiment with using artificial lighting, such as lamps or candles, to create interesting and unique effects. Don't be afraid to play around with shadows and silhouettes, as they can add depth and drama to your photos.
2. Get up close and personal
Disposable cameras often have fixed focal lengths, meaning they can't zoom in or out. To get closer to your subject, physically move closer to them. This can create more intimate and detailed shots, especially for portraits or still life photography. Don't be afraid to experiment with different angles and perspectives, such as shooting from above or below, to add interest and variety to your photos.
Most disposable cameras have a fixed focal length of between 30 to 35mm. This focal length is generally considered to be a wide-angle lens, which provides a broader field of view compared to standard or telephoto lenses. Keep this mind when shooting, as anything closer than 30mm will be out of focus.
(C) Liam Hole
3. Use the flash wisely
Disposable cameras often have a built-in flash, but it's important to use it wisely. In low light situations, the flash can help illuminate your subject and prevent blurry photos. However, using the flash too close to your subject can result in overexposed or washed out photos. Try using the flash from a distance or in combination with natural light to create a more balanced and natural-looking photo.
One of the most common issues we see in the lab with disposable cameras is underexposed photos! Particularly at weddings or parties, users may underestimate how much light is needed in order to produce a good exposure. In indoor or low light settings, always use the flash!
4. Play with angles and perspectives
One of the best things about disposable cameras is that they allow you to experiment with different angles and perspectives without worrying about wasting film or battery life. Try getting down low to capture a unique perspective, or hold the camera above your head for an interesting bird's eye view. Don't be afraid to tilt the camera or shoot from unusual angles to add visual interest to your photos. Play around and see what works best for the subject you're capturing.
5. Make sure your guests know how to use them!
Disposable cameras are often used at weddings, parties and events where lots of people will use them to capture the day. No doubt they will be chucked around and passed amongst your guests, but remember not everyone is a film buff! Sadly, we see many instances in the lab where disposable cameras aren’t used properly, resulting in underexposed photos and lots of fingers on lenses.
One tip is to put a sticky label on the back with clear instructions on how to use the camera- for example make sure the flash is on, and advance the film first. Other people go the extra mile and use tape to keep the flash pushed down, to ensure every shot is exposed properly.
6. Remember the ISO
Disposable cameras come with the film pre-loaded inside them, safely sealed in the camera. This might make it easy to forget what ISO film is loaded in the camera. The most common ISO in disposable cameras is between 400-800 ISO. This mid speed film is a good all round option for most shooting situations, as it provides a balance between sensitivity to light, and fine grain. It is a versatile film speed that works well in both outdoor and indoor lighting situations.
However, in very low lit settings such as concerts it may still need the flash to give it a helping hand, so keep this in mind. Some disposable cameras may come with different film speeds, so always check the packaging to make sure you shoot it appropriately.
For more tips and tricks about ISO, check out our blog here
7. Take your time
Unlike digital cameras, disposable cameras have a limited number of shots. So take your time and carefully compose each shot. There will also be added things like waiting for the flash to charge, advancing your frame and composing your shot through the tiny viewfinder- all part of the analogue fun!
(C) Christian Deocareza
8. Capture Candid moments
Disposable cameras are great for capturing candid moments because they’re small and unobtrusive. So keep your camera handy and be ready to snap a quick photo.
9. Develop your film as soon as possible
Disposable cameras can lose quality if the film is left undeveloped for too long. So try to develop your camera as soon as possible after taking your photos.
However, if your disposable has expired- it is certainly still worth developing! We get some gems through the WonderLab, of people who have discovered disposable cameras in the backs of drawers or cupboards at home, from ten or more years ago, and they still produce some great shots!
Let your lab know if the camera has expired and they can develop the film accordingly, and do some colour correction of the scans to get your images looking their best. Learn more about getting your disposable camera developed here
I sent in a disposable camera from a school trip I’d taken over 13.5yrs ago! I wasn’t really expecting much considering it had been so long, but I wanted to try anyway. They kept me updated throughout, letting me know when they received it, was processing, and how long it would likely take. It was super quick! I was really pleasantly surprised, and extremely happy to find that pretty much all came out well! I really thought that I’d never see the photos I’d taken with my childhood friend on her last week in the country, but now I have them to keep! I had such a lovely trip down memory lane whilst looking through them, and it brought up really happy memories. I shared them with my childhood friend, and she’s so pleased to have them too! Thank you! Fab, quick and easy service!"
10. Embrace the imperfections
Disposable cameras have a certain charm because they’re not perfect. Embrace the imperfections, like light leaks or blur, and use them to your advantage to create unique and artistic photos.
Once you have had your lovely photos back from your lab, why not ask them to send the disposable camera back with your negatives too? Although these cameras are designed to be thrown away, there is plenty of life still left in them after you have shot your roll through them. And there are all sorts of fun, experimental things you can try with them.
Re-load your disposable camera
Get more use out of your disposable camera by reloading it with film. You will just have to ask your lab to be careful when they unload it, as it can be fiddly and any damage or breakage to the camera could cause light leaks (although this can sometimes be cool!). This is a great way to keep experimenting and get the most out of your disposable camera.
(C) @karenshootsfilm took this photo on a disposable camera that she reloaded with street candy film
Play with the lens
This hack involves carefully removing the lens of your disposable camera and reattaching it to a body cap of another camera. By doing this you can create your own 90s-era plastic lens that delivers sharp images with a nostalgic style. Here is a tutorial on how its done.
Create a pinhole camera
This is another fun hack to repurpose your disposable camera. By removing the lens and replacing it with a tiny pin hole lens, you can create your own camera obscura. For instructions on how to do this, check out Lomography's blog here.
If you fancy giving any of these ideas a go, feel free to email us and we can send you a box of our disposable cameras from the lab straight to you, just pay for the postage.
We hope you enjoyed our 10 tips for capturing amazing photos with disposable cameras. They are fun, simple to use and great for capturing candid moments. So have fun capturing wonderful memories on film!
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