Top 20 Ultimate Ways to Use a Disposable Camera

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3.

When it comes to photography, we like to root for the little guy.

He’s the picture taker that works hard, is easy going and is always around when you need him.

Yep, we’re talking about one of our old favorites: the disposable camera.

While we love adding filters to our phone pics and making masterpieces with our DSLRs, there’s something magical about disposable cameras we can’t forget…

They’re cheap, fun to play with and can do almost anything!

Here’s our top 20 list of didn’t-know-you-could-do-that ways to use, abuse, modify, and make the most of your disposable camera!

Top 20 Creative Ways to Use a Disposable Camera

Smack some extra exposures out of it

beforeOur first tip started out as a simple way to get our disposable’s flash to fire, but we soon discovered something far greater.

Much to our surprise, this trick will also often force the shutter open to make a double exposure!

The process is simple:

  • Charge your flash (most disposables have a button for this.)
  • Hold camera in one hand, and SMACK! it down onto the palm of your other hand (lens facing out.)
  • The flash will fire, and you may get a double exposure as well! (Surprises like this are part of the fun of film, after all!)

If you love something, let it go… to the park

before Ever wonder what goes on around your local park when you’re not around?

Too shy to ask strangers if you can take their picture?

Bingo! We have a disposable camera solution.

Tie your disposable camera to a park bench!

Leave shooting directions for anyone who finds it, and return later to inspect the results!

Use 2 disposables to make 3D images!

beforeYes, Really! 3D images are made by taking two photos at the same time from slightly different angles.

So, if you tape your disposables together just right, you can use them to make a whole roll of 3D pictures for under $15!

We’ve got a full step-by-step tutorial on how-to practice this method right over here!

Flash filters!

beforeHold flash filters in front of your disposable’s flash for photos with an extra splash of color. (Like this awesome one from photographer meimaimaggio on flickr!)

You can also make your own flash filters by taping cellophane, colored wrappers, waxed paper, or any other experimental material to your flash!

Another easy option? Color over your flash with a permanent marker!

Lens Filters!

To completely transform your image, try making a filter for your lens!

Because disposable camera lenses are so small, its easy to make DIY filters on the cheap.

Try using colored marker on packing tape, coloring directly onto your lens, using your sunglasses or soda pop bottles, or holding a prism in front of the camera!

(We made this image with a blue filter over the lens to make everything in the picture super-duper blue.)

Make fisheye pix with cell phone lenses

beforeWe’ve always known that our fisheye cell phone lenses are champs at transforming phone pix, but we recently discovered how well they work on disposable cameras as well!

Stick the magnetic ring to your disposable’s lens, and attach the fisheye to your disposable anytime you want to take an awesome fisheye photo on film!

(Want to see examples from our India trip? Here!, You!, Go!)

Damage the film

beforeThis might sound crazy, but it can be really fun to ruin your film.

Photographer Thomas Anderson got these beautiful results just from throwing his disposable camera into a pool*. (He’s got a full set of ’em right over here on flickr, too!)

Try leaving your disposable in the freezer, the hottest place you can find, or even poking tiny holes in your camera to intentionally cause light leaks!

Looking for more fun film damaging ideas? The damaged film group on flickr has got ya covered.

*Make sure to let your photo lab know that your film is wet. They’re going to need to dry it out before they develop it. Thanks for the tip, Alysoun!

Damage the lens

Just as you can get great results by damaging the film inside your camera, you can get out-of-this-world photos by damaging it’s lens!

This dreamy photo (by Thomas Anderson) was made by scratching up the edges of a disposable lens with a hot screwdriver!

Other fun methods you can try: Scratching your lens with steel wool or sandpaper, melting your lens with a hot tool, painting over it with nail polish, or even taking it off and flipping it around backwards!

Head over to Disposable Distortion to see more scratched, melted, painted on, and broken lens results!

Send it on a world tour

We’re totally inspired by Matthew McVickar’s disposable camera project.

He packed up his camera with special instructions for mail carriers to take pics with it along the way, then developed the results!

Say Hi to your postal workers! Then, check out the Camera Mail group on flickr.

Even more Uh-mazing ideas

Make it an all-terrain camera Pre-waterproofed disposables can cost a pretty penny, but most DIY methods will work just fine for all your adventures, from mud fighting to white water rafting. Try using several ziplock bags or any clear water/dustproof wrap and duct tape to seal up your disposable. (Seriously,This guy took a tip from the Navy Seals and waterproofed his camera with a condom!)

Make your disposable re-loadable!
This tutorial from the Lomographic Society will teach you everything you need to know about how to make your disposable cam reload like an old champ.

High speed pictures!
Here’s a great article from PBS that will tell you everything you need to know about how to use disposable cameras to take high speed photos of balloons popping, eggs cracking, and dinos chomping! (Hey, they’re fast chompers!)

The Disposable flash slave. Crafting your own flash slave for a fraction of the price? Yep, it’s true! We’ll point the way.

The disposable ring flash Don’t want a super pricey ringflash but also don’t have an external flash to try a ring flash adapter? This tutorial will teach you how to make a DIY ringflash with the flashes from 4 disposable cameras!

Light up a lightbulb! Whoa! As if hacking the flash wasn’t enough, this hi-tech tutorial will teach you how to rewire a disposable so that it powers a florescent light bulb!

Dig-free time capsule! Here’s our very own guide to using your disposable camera as a time capsule! Snap photos of your life now, get them developed weeks, months, or even years later!

Participate in a disposable camera exchange! Swap cameras with groups of people around the world! Swap with a group of online pals, or check out online groups like Disposable Camera Exchange!

Participate in the Disposable Memory project! The Disposable Memory project is dropping hundreds of disposable cameras all over the world (309 so far!) and posting the found images on their website as the cameras return. The best part? You can participate!

The minty strobe. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you can also make a cute little strobe light out of a mint tin and your disposable’s flash! Yum!

A new way to macro. Photographer Greg Lipscomb wrote this tutorial about how he took apart his disposable camera and used a reverse lens technique to make surprisingly close-up macro photos!

P.S. We like to give credit where credit is due. Big thanks to Thomas Anderson, meimaimaggio, and Matthew McVickar for allowing us to use your photos under Creative Commons licenses!