These photos were captured between January 2018 and September 2019. A longer project description can be found below the gallery.
Part of the reason I have always loved photography is because it captures a specific moment in time—a split second that is fleeting and ephemeral. Perhaps it is my love for theatre that helps to cement this admiration for photography—an art form that harnesses the energy and urgency that exists only within live storytelling to provide a potent, intimate experience. It is that energy and that intimacy that I want my photos to capture.
Since the rise of digital photography, camera phones, and digital editing, a moment can be manipulated to look and feel somehow different from what it originally may have been. Admittedly, it is that part of the photo-taking process that is often most important to me and where I feel my work as a photographer is polished and shined—the work in the darkroom (or Lightroom, as it were).
As a photographer that works mostly with clients, taking photos to fulfill a client’s wants and needs, I’m often engaging in shoots that have taken some amount of time to plan. Shoots that clients have primped and prepped for—hair styled, makeup done, best outfits donned. And we will shoot photos for sometimes what feels like hours—the shutter of my camera blinking upwards of a thousand times as we search for the perfect light, the perfect angle, the perfect outfit. We pick away fuzzies from a sweater, we smooth the fly-aways, in an effort to showcase the best self.
Then once the moments and angles are captured, we agonize over the perfect selection of photos to display and share with our family, friends, and networks. The one photo that appropriately communicates who we want to be. And of course the selected photo is edited—sometimes just to adjust exposure and color balance to what feels technically correct, but also, often times, retouched to erase acne, wrinkles, freckles, cellulite, and other details deemed imperfect.
I do find a certain joy in this process and I like being able to make a person feel that they have been captured at their peak. I find great satisfaction in seeing a photo that I took shared on social media by a client. That sense of satisfaction is doubled (tripled!) when that photo racks up dozens (hundreds!) of likes, loves, wows of approval and admiration. Knowing that I helped this person find a moment that they believe captures some of the essence of who they are or want to appear to be is exciting and gratifying.
But it is also that curation and that process of sharing that can feel overly labored and draining. Even when I am sharing photos in my personal life, photos that are not a part of these planned photoshoots, I find myself agonizing over what to share and how to share it, applying different filters and attempting to create witty captions in an effort to present a curated snapshot of my life.
So, I decided to start this project, The Disposable Project, in which I take photos with disposable cameras in an effort to curb the agony of the curation process that comes with client-based, digital photography by letting go of it entirely, and getting back to that idea of simply capturing a moment in time. By taking photos of everyday life with disposable film cameras, the control over curation typically presented by my client-based work, my DSLR, and even my iPhone no longer exist. Even the act of viewing a photo after it is taken is impossible. Similarly, because photos are taken just for me and of my life, the confines presented by a client photo shoot do not inform the content of these photos and the culling process typically following a shoot will not be necessary. The photos can just be.
Even using a disposable film camera, versus film with an SLR, presents a sort of apathy toward how the photos turn out. I don’t want to think of the photos themselves as disposable, but there is a freedom in using a camera that doesn’t, to some extent, have to be cared for. The film doesn’t have to be selected. It is what it is. What you see is what you get.
The photos here have been captured between January 2018 and August 2019 with 14 different disposable cameras. All film was processed at Full Circle Fine Art Services. The photos haven't been edited or cropped in any way.
Initially when I started this project, I didn't want to share any of the photos on the internet at all. I had a plan to capture one photo everyday for years on end, eventually culminating in an expansive gallery show, documenting my life in this sort of photo diary. I've let go of that a bit with the thought that the whole point of the project is to take photos without any sort of structure or specific intention. I would still like to print a selection of these and have a gallery show someday, but I'm trying not to think too hard about it at this point. I'll continue to upload rolls as they're developed.