A week or two back now I attended the 20th birthday party of a friend. It was a quiet affair, a dozen or so of us relaxing on couches on the back lawn of a flat, soaking up the sun of a burgeoning summer.

On the table, amongst the cake and bottles, was something which I didn't even know was still around- a disposable camera, one which shoots film. You know the ones, black with orange and red on them. Click, wind-wind-wind. Wait to get the photos developed and then be gutted about how many of them didn't come out.

I'd known for a while that film cameras were making a comeback. Social media has gradually become more densely littered with the tell-tale colour streaks and over/under exposure that techies have devoted their careers and lives to getting rid of for the last few decades.

So the disposable camera captured our afternoon and early evening in the sun in 27 shots, and it was a lot of fun, far more than taking photos on any of our dozen perfectly capable phones would have been.


I'm not so sure why film cameras have made such a reappearance of late. The first answer that springs to mind would have to be that their lower quality and skewed colours have this fantastic ability to seemingly Photoshop out all of your flaws, flattering your ego greatly in the process. In a social media age, we all look a bit better in low definition, rather than the super ultra clear photos captured by the super ultra clear camera which scientists have crammed into your latest phone.

I bought a Polaroid camera earlier this year, and have got a heap of use out of it. It just feels nice to use.

Since then, I've also discovered an app you can buy which allows you to take photos on your phone camera in the style of a disposable film camera. It doesn't just lower the quality, it also only allows you to take 24 photos a day, and then it makes you wait three days for them to 'develop' before you can see them.

Yes, I'm serious. We've advanced to the digital age of unlimited, high quality photos, only for us to now pay money so that our photos can be blurry and we're artificially locked out of them for three days.

But, the app exists because it captures the appeal of film cameras. The app is about as practical as the cameras themselves- temperamental, impractical, and eye wateringly expensive.

So why, then, are they popular? Why have they reappeared, long after people joked about the death of film, and danced on its grave while wondering how we ever got by being unable to shoot and reshoot unlimited times?

What they capture, and what makes them feel good, is not the good looking people in the photos, nor is it the excitement of waiting to see what pictures come out. It's the fact that rarity is special. It's that something being finite makes us appreciate it more.

But really, everything is finite.


The moments we have with people around us, like 20th birthdays in backyards of flats, are numbered, just like the photos in a disposable camera. As we go into this holiday season, it's worth keeping this in mind.

Christmas, for many of us lucky ones, is a period of abundance. Insurmountable feasts, bottomless drinks, gifts galore.

But abundance isn't always happiness. It overwhelms us, and takes away our ability to appreciate each and every thing we have.

Abundance is no long-term solution. We can't have as much as we want, for as long as we want. That's not how life works, it's not up to us to decide when the fun ends.

We ought to make the most of moments, of the people, of the laughs, because we are numbered. They are numbered. As you wind through them, one day there will be a final click.

We all know this deep down, but we gloss over it day to day. Either because more pressing issues take centre stage, or because pondering mortality of loved ones and ourselves isn't that enjoyable.

Yes, looking back on captured moments after they're developed is great. But being present in these moments is key to truly appreciating the finite things in life.