‘We shoot 1000 pictures of the same instant, but we often forget to live it.’: College student urges ‘capture the moment’ rather than the picture

five college students sitting on a bed

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“I got home from Washington D.C. on March 9th, 2021. I arrived at the airport in Brazil with three painfully heavy bags, bittersweet tears in my eyes, and a used Kodak disposable camera.

As the first family member to attend university abroad, I did answer loads of questions regarding the last few months of my life.

Although most questions were fairly straightforward, one, in particular, cornered me. My best friend, Caroline, candidly asked me, ‘Why are people using these disposable cameras again? The quality of the pictures suck, and it takes ages to actually see how they turned out.’

My immediate response was, ‘Oh, I think it’s because the photos just look cool once you digitize them.’

Although disposable and film cameras do fulfill aesthetic purposes, I knew there was more to them than simply vintage-looking pictures.

Still, I could not quite think of a valid reason as to why Generation Z—a generation blessed with phones designed to take professional photos—is investing so much in disposable cameras.

five students on lawn
Courtesy of Lori Rampani

After digitizing the pictures, it slowly dawned on me why today’s youth find comfort in film photography.

If Caroline were to ask me that question again, I would say something along the lines of:

‘When we were children, phones were just phones: meant to make calls, not to take professional photos.

Back then, disposable and film cameras did not serve aesthetic purposes. They were designed to capture moments in a practical and affordable way.

The very beginning of our lives was mostly registered with film cameras. Pictures and videos of us were taken through the lenses of the cameras we now use for artistic reasons.

There are certain moments from when we were kids which are obviously impossible to remember.

However, years later, when we see photos of those instants, it feels as if we are taken back in time. We can sense the love and joy which were so present during the moment when the picture was shot. Even if we don’t necessarily recall the occasion itself.

Nostalgia.

three women singers
Courtesy of Lori Rampani

I believe when purchasing a disposable, I was unconsciously searching for that ‘old-looking’ appearance. The ‘vintage’ aspect that reminded me so much of my early life.

Anyway, I guess we are attempting to make a connection between sweet childhood memories and now. At least I am.’

The world as we know it today cannot function without technology. We exist in this society as it revolves around social media and internet connectivity.

We shoot 1000 pictures of the same instant, searching for the perfect angle and ideal lighting. We’re so focused on registering the moment, we often forget to live it.

That was not the case years ago when people had limited shots to capture an occasion forever.

It did not matter if the picture was ‘insta-worthy.’ The one and only goal was to register the pure and genuine love surrounding the moment and those who were in it.

When shooting with the disposable, I was not worried if my smile was too big, or if my hair was messy, or if my makeup was smeared.

And that is truly what made all the difference.

In contrast to those taken for social media platforms, the photos shot with the film camera were not fabricated at all. They were real in every aspect possible.

six girls staggered in front of river
Courtesy of Lori Rampani

Thus, the emotions portrayed in the pictures are crystal clear. They beautifully communicate the happiness felt during those occasions.

In the future, when I reminisce about my college days, I will look through those candid images and feel the same sweet nostalgia that comes from childhood film pictures.

As if I am experiencing those instants all over, again and again.

Looking at pictures of my time abroad was like reliving the two most wonderful yet terrifying months of my life.

I could feel the smell of my friend’s car, Shelly. A vintage Toyota which relentlessly drove us around Washington D.C.

Two masked girls holding a box of cupcakes
Courtesy of Lori Rampani

I could taste the sweet flavor of Georgetown cupcakes. The warm feeling of sugar spreading through my tongue.

I could sense the butterflies in my stomach from when I first arrived at school. My hands were cold, head spinning. Huge smile.

But most importantly, I could feel the endless love I have for those who were present during the moments deemed worthy of a disposable shot.

Buy a disposable camera.

Do not worry about how long it takes to view the pictures once you take them. Believe me, in an age when we can see photos more seconds after taking them, there is a certain beauty in waiting. Joyful curiosity.

Live in the moment.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lori Rampani of Washington, D.C. You can follow her journey on Instagram.

Five girls sit on a bed in a small room
Courtesy of Lori Rampani

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