There was a time when people turned to disposable cameras when they want to take pictures with something simple and fuss free. These days, however, creative minds and photography enthusiasts now enlist the aid of disposable cameras to document their lives in a different way. You must have read about one such project, the Indisposable Concept, from a couple of weeks ago here in the Magazine, but we wanted to have a closer look at the beginnings, aspirations, and inspirations behind this photography project. We know you want to know more too, so come and read on!
A couple of weeks ago, we told you about an Australia-based photography project called the Indisposable Concept, wherein participants and interested people are encouraged to capture an indisposable world through disposable cameras. A week and more or less 24 shots — those are all they have to show a slice of their life. In a world so fast-paced and high-tech as ours, it can be a challenge not only to condense a week’s worth of activities and memories, but also to choose which moments will serve as highlights, and thus be burned on film.
So, we couldn’t help but be intrigued with this project. We got in touch with Stuart Chapman, the creative mind behind the Indisposable Concept, and asked him to tell us more about this worldwide endeavor involving the humble disposable camera. He also granted us a peek into the lives of the people who have participated in the project through the film photos that they took.
Can you tell us something about the Indisposable Concept and yourself (and also the people who are helping you run the project)?
The Indisposable Concept stemmed from the initial idea of creating an exhibition in a gallery environment which would focus on and celebrate the unique worlds of 10 to 15 specific people from all various walks of life, from politicians and celebrities to the homeless. The idea evolved from that and I thought it would be more encompassing and socially diverse to make it more interactive online, to build a community via a common thread. In this case it’s getting people to capture and share their lives, in particular the things they love and view as indisposable, captured through the medium of film and a disposable camera. That way it’s controlled by the person holding the camera, it’s instinctively their own story told by their own pictures.
I guess I started the concept to try and build a community of people that wanted to embrace old techniques and mediums to take time out and have a look at the beauty and space that exists in their world. The concept is currently funded and run by myself. I get a lot out of it so it inspires me to keep growing it but the always on the lookout for funding or sponsorship opportunities.
How did you come up with the idea for the project? Did anything serve as your inspiration?
The inspiration was the desire to create something social that could be interactive and open to everyone. I love the process and medium of photography and thought it would be interesting to get people to share what they love by utilizing an old process. The freedom to create something unique on my own without any boundaries was inspiring initially, to see where it might go, I guess every day and every week that journey continues to grow and now it’s the individuals that want to get involved that are the inspiring element to it.
Why did you choose the disposable camera as the vehicle for the project?
I like to embrace the old and obsolete and not get too carried away with the newest and fastest thing that has just been created to make life even faster. I love the rawness and unpredictability of the disposable camera and the fact everyone can be involved. I love the fact there’s only so many shots to a roll of film, you can’t see the results as you go and you can’t delete any of them. It creates an experience and process that has been lost in the digital era. Disposables are also relatively cheap, accessible and easy to use… kind of. Just point and shoot, utilize the flash when required and hope for the best.
Can you still remember the first submission you received? Can you briefly tell us some details about it, your insights, and a few nice shots from the roll?
I remember each of the rolls through out the process — From getting the camera back in the post to picking up the developed photos and flicking through them for the first time to see what’s living on the roll. The first submission technically was from my fiancé, Terry. As I needed to start somewhere, I thought, what better place than with family and friends. I bought a pack of 6, 400 ISO, 24 exposure disposables and handed them out with a little printed A4 info kit describing what Indisposable was about and what was required. It kind of grew from there as I invited more people and word of mouth slowly spread with random people looking to contribute.
The first roll, submitted by Terry, only came back with about 14 shots (Very rarely get a good 24 with the cameras I was using initially, I now get them imported from California – old Kodak ones with 27 exposures). I really love the fact people had total control and direction of the entire shot, who, what, where and how the shot was taken. It’s a very personal process and the fact you can’t see the shots as you go adds that element of surprise or maybe anxiety, depending on how you look at it. I get equally excited about every roll that gets developed, the enthusiasm and anticipation hasn’t changed from the first roll to the most recent.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the project for you (and possibly the participants as well) so far?
The most challenging aspect of the project is getting contributors to return the cameras within the allocated shooting week and promoting the fact that you don’t have to be going on holiday or doing something fabulous and different to get on board. At the end of the day I want Indisposable to be more than just the photos, I want people to appreciate the fact that they’re alive and have lots of interesting and good stuff around them. I want them to see those things and take photos and connect with the world around them. Confirm that no matter where you are in life there’s always something tangible around you that makes you who you are, which is special and unique compared to the next person. We all have something to offer.
What about its most rewarding aspects?
It’s the interaction, the unknown, the warmth and enthusiasm from strangers interested in the project that makes this whole thing so rewarding. The fact that people are willing to hop on board and not only share their personal lives but embrace an old technique and share these experiences is the most excellent thing to me. The fact that Indisposable Concept was started from a simple idea with no money proves that it’s an interesting time we live in, where ideas can slowly take off the ground and bring people together. Throw in the cross-pollination of old and new technologies and a whole bunch of awesome humans and we have something fun, interesting and educational.
After over 10 years working in the marketing/creative worlds, I needed this to feel human again, to work on a project created and driven by myself without external influences. Every day when I check my emails or the website or facebook or Instagram and I see people have interacted with the concept helps keep the momentum going. Without this interaction and willingness from people the project simply doesn’t exist.
How do you perceive the future for the Indisposable Concept?
I’m not too sure what the future holds for Indisposable Concept. I’m looking at incorporating a few more online activations, competitions and feature galleries and we’re also currently developing a zine to hit the streets in print form at some stage. This all requires money though so looking at ways to generate some funding or sponsorship. Lots of ideas and initiatives and I think the concept can grow and diversify over time but we’ll see where it goes. I’m also totally open to working with others in developing the project further — it’s not a closed door. I would love to hear if anyone has any ideas, or collaborative opportunities that may be suitable and worth looking into.
Lastly, for those who want to participate in the project, what details, in brief, do they need to remember — instructions, deadlines, and responsibilities?
Visit www.indisposableconcept.com and download the info pack from the “instructions” page. This will outline everything you need to know to get involved. There is no deadline in the near future so anyone willing to get on board can do so. Just remember you have a week (that’s 7 days) to capture any given week, a snapshot of your life, you must include a selfie on your roll and all shots must be taken or directed by you, the contributor. At this stage until we have packages available to purchase form the site you can pick up a disposable camera for approx. $5-$15 AUS dollars. Once you’ve shot your roll you can either post the camera to us for developing or email us a copy of the digital files. You can ask for digital copies burnt to disk when you get the film developed. We will than share with the Indisposable community.
Thank you so much, Stuart, for taking the time to answer our questions, feed our curiosity, and give us a preview of the interesting submissions you’ve received so far!