Keep Film Alive: Capture Your Summer the Old School Way


Think back to summer camp when you were a child. Chances are your mom had stuck a few disposable cameras in your backpack and sent you on your way. You didn’t think twice before pushing the shutter button, and when the week was over, you couldn’t wait to get home and have your pictures developed so you could see what you actually shot and relive those magical moments. That was the norm. That was how people took pictures. You had hard copy images you could hold in your hand, and chances are, you kinda loved it.

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This summer, go retro on your road trip, tropical escape, or staycation by popping those tiny tubes of 35mm film back into your bag. But in this day and age, of course things have advanced, including film, disposable and instant cameras, and accessories, so your film experience will be anything but old news!

Bring Back The Wonder

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Today’s photo taking gets easier (or more complicated, depending which way you look at it) for the everyday person, what with the high-def, crystal clear, larger than life display on the back of digital cameras, allowing you to see every detail of what you just shot in a split second. It’s cool, sure; it’s convenient, absolutely; but it’s not magical. There is no mystery of what’s going to show up on that screen. It’s instant-digital-picture-gratification at its finest.

You take two hundred shots of your daughter wearing a new pair of sunglasses, from every angle, and scroll through them on the back of your camera for the next 15 minutes, eager to find the one shot where her eye is perfectly focused and that stray hair isn’t in her forehead; where she looks like a sun-kissed child model posed to perfection; that “real life” shot. While you’re spending more time looking through the pictures than you actually spent taking them, your daughter has flung the glasses off her head and they are currently crushed beneath her shoes. You roll your eyes, continue scrolling while deleting the ones that didn’t make the cut – too grainy, too blurry, cheesy smile, not smiling enough – until you find it. The one. You fist pump the air in success, dream up big plans of creative ways you’re going to showcase the photo, and then by the time dinner rolls around, the picture is long forgotten in the depths of the digital dungeon that is your camera, maybe uploaded to Facebook a week later in a rush of nostalgia, but never printed out, never framed, never filed in a photo album. That “real life” moment, forgotten.

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But, say you dig up that ancient 35mm film camera that’s been collecting dust under your high school yearbooks and has Backstreet Boys fan club stickers plastered on the back, and you search Amazon for some film to buy – because real stores probably don’t even know what film is anymore, let alone have it available to buy, right? You grab your girl, take her to the playground with her shades, and let her run loose. You panic as you realize you only have 36 shots and then your camera will stop working – the PAIN! Instead of letting your finger go trigger happy, you carefully calculate each shot, mind-boggled that when you go to check the back of the camera to see your work, nothing’s there. As you’re halfway through, you loosen up a bit and can tell your daughter is too, because her mom is laughing with her and unbelievably taking only one quick picture as she goes down the twirly slide. Once you snap 36, you play mermaids and pirates; there’s nothing else to do. Nothing more to see. Only the wonder and mystery of those few raw, genuine, truly imperfect “real life” snapshots that are hidden inside that black plastic box. The ones you only see once through the viewfinder, then again when they are physically touching your hand.

Go Instant!

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Similar to the instantaneous satisfaction of a digital camera’s screen is the old-school Polaroid camera, except instead of being able to choose which photo you like the best and editing that photo to unnatural perfection, one shot on a Polaroid prints out into your hand in an instant; meshing the beauty of film and instant gratification. They do still make instant cameras today, but boy are they upgraded from the huge, clunky, boring boxes they used to be.

Our favorite instant camera comes from the creative folks at Lomography, who for years have dedicated themselves to bringing “fun and alternative approaches to photography”, which is an understatement when you see what their products can actually do! Their Lomo’Instant camera is compactly designed and loaded with features that make your instant photos works of art. Their newest Lomo’Instant design is inspired from the tropics of Honolulu, Hawaii, which makes this camera a must-have accessory for your summer getaways.

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Lomography Lomo’Instant Features:
  • 3 shooting modes: Flash-On Auto, Flash-On Manual, Flash-Off Manual
  • Wicked cool lens system including: Built in wide-angle, Fisheye attachment, Portrait attachment, Close-up attachment
  • B setting allows you to shoot long exposures for unique nighttime shots
  • Shoot unlimited multiple exposures for layering shots in one frame, giving you one-of-a-kind photos
  • Colored gel filters are included, which are used over the flash for giving your photos different hues and creative vibes
  • Available apertures: Automatic f8 , f11 , f16 , f22 , f32
  • Selfie away! There’s a tiny mirror next to the lens for making your selfies instantly amazing.
  • Snapshots are credit card sized using Fujifilm Instax Mini Film
  • Takes 4 AAA batteries
  • Tripod mount

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Tips for Shooting Instant:
  • Read your instant camera’s manual to figure out how to work the thing. Even though it seems self explanatory, you could miss out on some cool features if you only click and don’t dig deeper.
  • If you’re a photography novice, study a bit about light and aperture and the different lens included with your instant camera, so you can make the best choice for the shot you want to take. We can help you out with this with our plethora of photography tutorials.
  • Stock up on instant film and pass the Polaroid around at your next summer shindig. Let your family and friends take the reigns and let them bring home some souvenir photos of their favorite people.
  • Instant cameras are the perfect first camera for kids! You can teach them a bit about photography, and when they practice, they can see exactly what you’re talking about and they can enjoy the fruits of their labor immediately. Give each of your kids their own instant camera this summer and let their creativity and eyes run wild.

A Fisheye’s View in Film

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Another unique way to shoot your summer in film is to look at your days through the eyes of an underwater summer favorite, a fish! Make your 35mm film shots even cooler by giving them that distorted, up-close-and-personal, rounded look. The Lomography Fisheye One makes these awesome pictures possible with just the click of a button; not to mention we’re kinda lovin’ the camera itself as much as the shots it produces! In a wide variety of eclectic designs, colors, and styles, there’s a camera for everyone, as unique as the pictures it takes.

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Lomography Fisheye One Features:
  • The world’s FIRST compact fisheye camera
  • Shows 170⁰ of fisheye distortion
  • Fixed f8 aperture
  • Uses regular 35mm film
  • Has a built-in flash with On/Off switch
  • Plastic body with fixed lens
  • Rubber lens cap with attached lanyard
  • Takes 1 AA battery

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Tips for Shooting Fisheye:
  • If you haven’t loaded film in a while – like years, or ever – then be patient. If you’re anything like us, it’s not quite like riding a bike.
  • Get as close as possible to your subject for the best distortion. But don’t be scared to shoot landscapes too! Fisheye shots make everything look pretty cool.
  • Mix up your angles. Shoot from above, shoot from below, go as crazy as you want. The point of shooting fisheye is to have fun, boost your creativity, and bring back the wonder of film!
  • Don’t rely on the viewfinder. First off, it’s tiny, and secondly, when shooting fisheye, the massive field of view (170 degrees) allows your shots to take in way more than your eyes can see. Use the viewfinder as a guide, but allow yourself to freely and casually push the shutter, and relish in the wonder of what your shots will look like when you finally see them.
  • Take it everywhere you go this summer, and we mean everywhere! It’s not called a “fish”eye for nothing. Go underwater and dive deep into your creative photography spirit with Lomography’s Fisheye Submarine.

Capturing underwater sights are some of the coolest pictures out there, and there’s no reason to not shoot it all this summer, with film no less. Take your trusty Fisheye One to the pool, the beach, and the lake, and rest assured that it won’t get water logged or sand blasted. Simply unlock the Fisheye Submarine case, nestle your camera inside, lock it up and get snapping.

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Lomography Fisheye Submarine Features:
  • Durable plastic body
  • Go as deep as 65 feet underwater!
  • Includes lanyard
  • Outer switch allows you to turn the flash on and off while camera is inside
  • Includes snap on flash diffuser for perfect underwater shots

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Tips for Shooting the Fisheye Submarine:
  • When in and under the water, get close to your subject; an uncomfortable closeness as in 1-2 feet away for the best distortion and ideal lighting. If it’s your lover, they’ll love it; a school of fish, probably not, so work quick and quietly!
  • Use the flash most of the time, unless you’re skimming the surface. Water eats up a lot of light, so you need the flash on while underwater for the best white balance and exposure.
  • Shoot in clear and calm water for the best pictures. When sand, dirt, rocks, and cannonball residual are in your frame, the flash will reflect off of this, and your photos might turn out less than ideal – a.k.a. “what the heck did you take a picture of?”.
  • Say you spend your summer on the slopes away from the heat. Take the Fisheye Submarine with you! This rock of a case can handle it all, from extreme weather conditions to extreme sports; wherever you go, it can go.

Shoot Your Summer

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Spend your summer in wonder, not behind a distracting, digital third eye. You can still capture your summer – and you should! – but in a less time-consuming, perfection-driven way.

Instead of documenting the family beach vacation DSLR-style, simply capture it in Polaroids. Instead of yelling at your kids to sit still, look at you, and smile for goodness sake, snap a silly, blurry fisheye photo of them wearing their goggles poolside –  you can still hope that when you see the photo again in a couple weeks, those goggles will be looking at you!

Here are some other ways to shoot your summer old-school style:
  • Read up a bit. Just like you poured over the manual of your DSLR, spend a little time researching tips to creating quality photos using a disposable camera. There’s no reason you can’t still aim for amazing pictures just because you’re not shooting with a $1,000 camera. Check out these Lomography, eBay, and TravelBlogs articles to start with.
  • Let your kids behind the lens for once! Pass out some instant and film cameras (disposable or not) to the kiddos and see summer vacation through their eyes. We dare you to not take one picture the entire week!
  • Try your hand at a summer photo challenge using only instant photos. There are millions of challenges to choose from – thanks Pinterest – or create your own. Make a simple scrapbook out of your photos to remember the summer of 2016. A big plus here is that you won’t be working on your summer scrapbook well into December, because when you take your instant photo for the day, that’s just it, it’s instant! Tape it in the book with the word of the day and you’re done. #winning

Make it your summer goal to choose one big activity where you would usually bring your DSLR to and switch it out for a couple cameras of film. See how the family reacts, see how you feel behind the lens, and see how much more wonder, excitement, and laughter you can bring to your summer!

For all things photography: film, digital, and beyond, be sure to tune into our CAPTURE section!

Photo Credits: Dani



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Dani lives in North Carolina with her husband and two toddlers. She is a stay-at-home mom who loves to clean and organize anything and everything. Her happiness is found in Jesus, days at the spa, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups. She strives to live a simple life by being debt-free and limiting social-media.