the disposable memory project

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Interviewed by the future of journalism.

March 24, 2011 by admin

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We were delighted to be asked for an interview by Bryony Young recently, a student of Journalism at University College Falmouth. Bryony has kindly let us reproduce her article here for the blog.

One day Matthew Knight caught sight of a disposable camera whilst waiting for his dry cleaning, three years on, 65 countries and 300 cameras later, testifies that every picture tells a story.

During his wait, an idea came to Matthew, to leave the camera from the dry cleaning shop in the hands of the general public, in a hope they would pick it up and start taking photographs. The camera then would be shared around the general public and an email address was stuck to the camera to view the images online, once they had been developed.

Matthew encouraged his friends to find the camera and before he knew it, his friends dropped cameras, in Edinburgh, Berlin and then, San Francisco. “ A silly idea that took me about 30 minutes to think about has now turned into thedisposablememoryproject.org, thanks to collaborative nature of the project and the community that it encompasses,” says Matthew. People have now dropped more than 300 cameras in around 65 countries. The most extreme on Mount Everest and the South Pole but more commonly in cafes, urban parks and benches, train stations and airports.

Matthew enjoys the waiting game of not knowing where the cameras has travelled, “The beauty of it is having to wait for the film to arrive back for processing, it becomes so exciting as you do not know where it has been in the world, or what paths it has crossed,” he says. It is not until the camera has returned back to the lab that Matthew knows about the previous location of a camera. So far only 26 cameras have been successfully returned and a few have got lost but overall, the project has produced some fantastic stories.

Matthew thinks the idea is appealing because people aspire to travel to experience different cultures and types of people. “This project taps into that ideal by giving you a random insight into that place,” he says. A photo from Sri Lanka of an orphaned girl holding a mirror smiling is just one of the images that has been successfully developed. Matthew was contacted randomly by the author of that photo. He said that her parents had died in a house fire, just two days before. Yet she was still smiling for the camera. “The stories beyond the camera are becoming most interesting as they tell you more about the images and about the different cultures around the world,” he added.

It is through stories like this that, the disposable memory project has created a small online community of photographers and like minded people. Matthew admits that there are a few lomography fans, who are overall keeping the project alive and inspiring others to take part.

Overall anyone can join in, “It is all about people doing creative projects themselves, taking part for the love of photography, people don’t play enough these days and it is exciting when you find a camera,” he continued.

The future of the project has huge potential a community based gallery seems the most obvious idea, “ I would love to find the time to create an event that involves as many people as possible,” he says. For example, buy 100 cameras, hand them out to students, creative freelancers, celebrities, all walks of life and encourage them to take photos. Then auction the completed images off for charity or something similar. At the same time showcasing all the archive in a gallery space to inspire and give promotion to the project.

The future looks snappy happy.

Thanks to Bryony. You can visit her blog at: http://bryonyiow.blogspot.com/

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