And Emily they come and go / The shadows and the distant sounds
April 24, 2004 1:13 PM   Subscribe

What happens when 7 disposable cameras are released into the wild, passed from stranger to stranger, and mailed back home? Starting with "Emily", and continuing for several Tuesdays to come, Kevin Fox finds out. [slightly more inside]
posted by John Kenneth Fisher (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some quick logistical details I found on the sites:

16 cameras were sent out, seven returned. The later batches had notes on them to limit pictures to two or three a person before passing them on to strangers. "Emily" took a week to come back, most much longer, one taking over a year.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:16 PM on April 24, 2004

this is fun...i can't wait to see the others.
posted by amberglow at 1:26 PM on April 24, 2004

[this is excellent]

I wonder, though, at the fact that most of the photos seem to be just regular snapshots, rather than the kind of whacky strangely-staged photos that turn up regularly when you give your friends disposable cameras (like, say, leaving them at on the tables at your wedding).
posted by anastasiav at 1:27 PM on April 24, 2004

Goddamn, this has been a long time coming. Thanks for the heads-up, JKF. After six years, though, you think he'd at least just put them all up at once! I'm shaking my first at you, Kevin Fox.
posted by rafter at 1:49 PM on April 24, 2004

1) Release 7 disposable cameras into the wild.

2) ?

3) Notoriety !

4) Profit ?
posted by troutfishing at 1:51 PM on April 24, 2004

2) Wait 6 years.

(Thanks for the kudos, guys!)
posted by kfury at 2:10 PM on April 24, 2004

I really like this - what a great idea! Reminded me of the Duck Race which got me to a-Googlin'. Guess what? 2004's event is about to start and we can all join in!
posted by dmt at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2004

one friday night after a wedding gig i schlepped my stuff out to the van and returned to make sure nothing had been left behind. there was this nice 35mm camera just sitting there all alone on a table. i commandeered it and the next day a friend and i went for a long cruise photographing roadkill in detail with the remaining film. on sunday i got a call from a bandmate, the cameras owner had called to see if we had rescued it, and the camera made its way back home. i never did hear what happened when they had that roll developed.
posted by quonsar at 3:02 PM on April 24, 2004

Why only 22 exposures? Genitalia?
posted by Kwantsar at 3:02 PM on April 24, 2004

No, not genitalia. Severe underexposure.
posted by kfury at 3:49 PM on April 24, 2004

This totally made my day. Awesome.
posted by Quartermass at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2004

oh, good. VERY nervous making my first newbie post.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:56 PM on April 24, 2004

Would be interesting to drop these off at airports...
posted by iamck at 10:08 PM on April 24, 2004

Exactly what is said on the "instructions" sticker on the phones? Is that on the site somewhere?

BTW, a great addition to the depressingly large "why didn't I think of this" file. Thanks for the link and welcome, JKF.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:49 PM on April 24, 2004

Here, Flanders.
posted by rafter at 10:53 PM on April 24, 2004


It is a "camera." Not a "phone"
posted by wsg at 12:20 AM on April 25, 2004

I tried this three years ago (during the launch of Nervousness Industries), but someone on the list dropped off the face of the Earth after getting the camera. As far as I'm aware, this was the first time this was attempted; at least the idea was original to me. I'm glad to see that somebody has had success!
posted by Eamon at 6:57 AM on April 25, 2004

kfury, would you mind if other people ... er ... imitated your idea, so long as any photos published gave credit to you for the original idea?

(I'm thinking this would be a fun project to do at a con, festival or other special interest recreational gathering....)
posted by anastasiav at 7:13 AM on April 25, 2004

[This is REALLY Good]
posted by Witty at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2004

[This kicks ass]
I'm so inspired.
posted by Witty at 7:21 AM on April 25, 2004

I wish the pictures were as interesting as the concept.
posted by smackfu at 5:49 PM on April 25, 2004

This reminds me a bit of Geobears (rather lame site, pretends to be official). Geobears, for the few who don't know, are launched by balloons by school classrooms accompanied by a note, and travel all over the world until they reaches someone who recognizes the school and sends it back, accumulating a lot of tags and memorabilia and such along the way. (Very small, irrelevent coincidence that "GEODUCK" is in one of those photos :P).
posted by abcde at 5:51 PM on April 25, 2004

Actually, this site is way better. Apparently the balloons method isn't always used, sometimes it's just handed off like these were.
posted by abcde at 5:53 PM on April 25, 2004

kfury, like anastasiav, I'd like to know how you'd feel about this idea spreading. I sent it to a few photographer friends, and they're already planning the site design. Of course line one of the "about page" will pay tribute to your most brilliant (and patient) original effort!
posted by pzarquon at 1:32 AM on April 26, 2004

I tried (warning: self link) a similar project a couple years ago with The Photo Trust Project. As you can see if you go to the site, it died a drawn-out, painful death. In some cases, the cameras only got one picture taken before disappearing and in all cases the cameras didn't even make it halfway through the roll. Three years ago when I was more bitter about it, I wrote a little rant about it all, but things are just fine now, thank you...
posted by almostcool at 6:56 AM on April 26, 2004

I'm fine with other people giving it a go. I know of three or four people who have given it a shot, though I don't think it worked out for any of them. The secret is to keep it simple. If you 'theme' your cameras, like "take a picture of water" or "take a picture of your lover" the camera won't come back, because somewhere along the way, someone will say to themselves "I've got to make this count. I need to take the perfect picture." That kind of mentality gets the camera stuck on a dresser or inside a glove compartment for all eternity.

All I ask is that the site has a link back to this original site as the inspiration, and that you let me know about your site so I can take a look!
posted by kfury at 1:00 PM on April 26, 2004

Excellent! You know, I was thinking. Someone with greater coding skills than I could probably take the [b]Randompixel[/b] idea, and mix it with the [b]1000 Journals[/b] or [b]Bookcrossing[/b] idea, and create a central repository. The site could post instructions and a web app to allow anyone to print a standard label with a camera ID number or name, register it with the site, and set it free!

Take one shot, any shot, and pass it on... log where you are, "subscribe" to the camera to know when it's logged by someone else... and when it gets back (if it gets back), get notified when the final gallery is posted.

Man, I wish I took PHP instead of underwater basketweaving in college...
posted by pzarquon at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2004

Um, pardon the dorktacular "bb" code there.
posted by pzarquon at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2004

dorktacular - nice! :)
posted by Witty at 11:58 PM on April 26, 2004

pzar: Don't forget to fold in data!
posted by kfury at 3:17 PM on April 27, 2004

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