Once upon a time, I used to shoot with something I liked to call the “Snappy”. Chances are that you probably did too. It was the stalwart of carefree shooting where your only responsibility was to push a button and capture the moment. If you wanted to get fancy, you could trigger the flash, but mostly you just clicked and documented your world without the worry of settings or being perfect. Your primary decision was how to frame your story. Remember those times?
Otherwise known as the disposable camera, back in the not-so-long-ago day, we relied upon these little beauties in a pinch, or as was often the case for me, as the ultimate party-cam which I lost on several occasions (and still miss those rolls film to this day). Enter Stuart Chapman from Australia who not only recognized the ingenuity of these pocket-sized cameras, but who has created a non-profit organization to celebrate them. Allow me to introduce you Stuart’s brainchild and labor of love The Indisposable Concept.
Jasmine, Narrabeen, NSW. Australia, March/April, 2013
The concept itself is simple: 1 roll of film over 1 week with 24 opportunities to capture the indisposable world around you. What can you not do without? What will you share? What do you want to tell the world? It’s all up to you. Because we cannot delete any of our submissions, the project aims to share an honest representation of our worlds in their purest forms. We are all sharing our life experiences here and now, and the beauty of the Indisposable Concept is in its level playing field. The unpretentious, almost-defunct disposable camera becomes our tool for sharing the wonder of our worlds. In fact, Muse Nikki Gardner used this humble camera as the first lesson for her photography students back when she taught introductory photography classes during graduate school.
Breny, Gold Coast, QLD. Australia, April, 2013
Light leaks, expired film, lots of noise, washed out colors and images cut off short. The foibles of film for sure, but these subtle nuances bring the project right down to earth and are some of the reasons that makes The Indisposable Concept that much better.
This is not a competition. There will be no cash or prize giveaway. Indisposable Concept is a social collaboration to gain insight into various people’s lives and what they perceive as important and impactful on their daily lives, big and small. We aim to build a community through diversity and a willingness to contribute.
Pheona, Qatar + New Zealand, March, 2013
One of the things that I love about this project is how easily I can identify with many of the angles, subject matter and emotions behind many of the images. After all, we all know I love shooting images from where I stand! But it’s more than that. Having a brief glimpse into these people’s lives, seeing what they want me to learn about them, gives me a sense of who they are. The fact that there are no second chances strips their lives down to the basic beauty they want to showcase from their worlds. Or maybe it was just an instantaneous moment where they connected with their worlds. I can see that in these photos. I can feel how freezing that moment spoke to them. The light leaks, the grainy shots, the chopped off edges just sweetens the deal!
I caught up with Stuart after discovering the project earlier this week. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Fea, Milan, ITALY, May, 2013
1. How big is your team, and how has it grown with the project? The “Team” consists of me, myself and I at the moment and lots of support and understanding from the people around me for whom I’m super grateful to have in my life. There’s a lot of interest from people who want to get on board and help promote the concept, and the plan is to grow the team and develop the concept moving forward with lots of social activations planned for the future online and in the community. Right now, we’re just working out the best way to build the team. We like to encourage contributors to shoot numerous rolls as feature contributors and promote their own creative endeavors via the Indisposable platform.
Citizens of the World, Bondi, NSW. Australia, April/May, 2013
2. Have you noticed any particular themes that run through the submissions? Do men and women shoot differently and do they seem to shoot the same things? There are certain trends generally that I’ve noticed from majority of the rolls that come through. As a social exploration into people’s lives, the contributors are encouraged to document the stuff that’s unique and special in their lives. I’ve noticed a tendency for people to shoot at least one or two shots of the sky, plants or the ocean. There’s a true affiliation with the sense of space, freedom and nature that people connect and associate with. It’s actually quite beautiful that we instinctively look for the beauty and harmony in nature as the “indisposable” elements to our life.
Aga, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, March, 2013
3. I love that you ask that your participants include a self-portrait…we LOVE selfies here at Mortal Muses! Outside of the obvious, having a visual of the person sending in their submission, how did you come about with this idea? I think it’s important to have a face to go with each roll. 90% of the selfies look absolutely terrible and there’s no way to delete or know how they turned out so it’s quite a unique and slightly terrifying experience for some as we’ve become so accustom to having total control. I think it’s a very couageous thing for the contributors to do, and we appreciate their willingness to play along. I’ve received various stories how people have taken warm up shots with their smart phones before hitting the button on the disposable camera. Others have tried the reflection in the mirror selfie but usually get caught out with the flash… It’s a unique and fun element to the concept.
Terry, Brisbane, January, 2013
Fea, Milan, Italy, May, 2013
Courtney, Brisbane, QLD. Australia, March/April, 2013
4. Do you have a favorite submission you’d like to highlight?
There’s been many submissions that have I’ve connected with for different reasons. I’ve received entire rolls that tell such a beautiful story visually and emotionally including individuals that have documented a particular hardship or celebrations in their life. We also receive a lot of hand written notes thanking the concept for the opportunity to be involved with the experience inspiring people to embrace film photography once again.
Brodie, Barcelona, Spain, May, 2013
It’s been very heart warming and motivates me to keep developing the concept further. To answer your question, the whole concept has been a highlight, the people I’ve met that I would never have had the opportunity to meet and the personal interaction with each and every one. It was a buzz to meet people for the first time at the Indisposable Exhibition last month even though I felt like I knew them so well through their photos. The fact that they’ve opened up and shared their personal world with us has been a wonderful experience that we’re blessed to be involved in.
Thank you Stuart for taking the time to answer our questions and for sharing some of the beauty that has been taking place around the world over the past few months. So are you ready to send in your submission to The Indisposable Concept? I know I am! In fact, I’ve been driving around with the same disposable camera in the back of my car since before I bought my first point-and-shoot, digital camera over 8 years ago! Will I get lackluster results? or will my expired film yield more interesting ones? I will certainly find out over the next few months when I choose my week to begin shooting.
Talia, Brisbane, January 2013
I challenge you to join me in this endeavor too! I promise to follow up with Stuart in a couple of months to see how the project unfolds and will share my submission and some of yours here on Film Friday should you choose to participate. Just send us a note with the link to your submission on The Indisposable Concept’s website. Here are instructions for how to submit.
You can learn more about The Indisposible Concept by checking out their website and on Facebook. (Be sure to “like” them while you stop by!) You can follow them on instagram and twitter too. Back in April, Lomography.com interviewed Stuart about the project where he said something that touched a chord inside of me:
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.
Let’s join him, shall we?