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Gear & Apps

WhiteAlbum Turns Your Phone Into A Modern Disposable Camera

By Anthony Thurston on January 16th 2015

Disposable cameras, for most of us, are something that ceased being relevant shortly after the digital point and shoot revolution happened. Still, the nostalgia of that experience is fun to relive now and then – which is why you can still find them all over.

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WhiteAlbum is a new app that wants to bring that disposable camera experience into the Internet age. The app lets you take 24 images, but does not let you see them. No filters, no retakes. You get 24 images, and then at the end, you have the option to get an album of 4×5 ‘Polaroid style’ prints shipped to you for $20 (including shipping).

The first time that you see the images that you took will be when your prints arrive in the mail. It is a rather interesting concept that I can see being very popular with the wannabe hipster crowd. I say ‘wannabe’ because of course a ‘real’ hipster would be using a real disposable camera, or shooting with a film SLR.

[REWIND: Duet Display Turns Your iPad Into A Monitor]

All joking aside. I find myself both very intrigued by this, and baffled by it. $20 is not cheap, not by a long shot. I work part time at a local camera store; our 4×6 prints cost 30 cents a piece – which is actually on the higher end in our area – making my total cost to print these same exact images would be something like $7.20. Adding on the shipping, which I can’t imagine is more than $5, comes to something like $8 profit per album.

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Not a terrible profit margin, and I am sure the prints are of a higher quality than bargain Walmart prints, but I fail to see how anyone in their right mind would seriously choose this over just going and getting some prints done. Granted, I also understand that the prints themselves are not really the point.

The point is the experience. The experience of not knowing what is coming or what the images will look like. I can see doing this a couple of times for nostalgia’s sake, but I find it hard to believe that the app will get many regular users. It just seems like an expensive gimmick for those longing for days/technologies past.

For more information on WhiteAlbum, you can check out their page in the iTunes App Store.

What are your thoughts on this WhiteAlbum app? Do you see apps like this, which thrive on nostalgia and bringing to life old experiences, as viable entities, or are they doomed to fade like the physical objects they try so hard to emulate?

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. J. Dennis Thomas

    Cool idea, too bad greed got the best of them.

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  2. Graham Curran

    Turn my $600 phone into a disposable camera? I don’t think so.

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  3. Gavin Stokes

    Nope …I dont get…$20 for prints of images I cant see?

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  4. Yair Rozin

    The idea itself intriguing. Just need to do a checkup on the print quality.
    Just one time though :-)

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  5. Yair Rozin

    seriously Tempting. I may give it a try. My phone’s up for it

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  6. David Hall

    Yawn… so not interested.

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  7. Kevin Sutton

    Hmm this reminds me of Mosaic which I have used before for about the same price and is in hard cover book form. Now that I think about it both would make good potential leave behinds possibly.

    Since this app will really force you to think about your shots before you take them that may be good for some. I generally don’t use my phone for anything other than snapshots really. Dunno, I might try it for the novelty of it.

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  8. J D

    You can buy a decent film slr and a roll of film for the price of using this app twice. I am curious to the length of shipping time too. I can still get film developed locally in an hour and Polaroids are instant. Not sure why anyone would want to wait any length of time over a couple of days.

    A better idea may be to use this and instead of having it shipped to your house, have a printer at home that’s connected to your phone/app. You take the photo and cannot see it but when you get home and sync the app to the printer, your photos are automatically printed.

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  9. Arnold Ziffel

    As for me, I would rather just shoot a roll of film. If this idea makes it, put me on the surprised list.

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    • aaron febbo

      I agree arnold. at a price point like that i can get almost a roll of portra 160 and pay for scanning and processing. that plus shooting film is way more fun than using my iphone.

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  10. Aaron Cheney

    I like this ideas but I agree that it is on the pricier side. On one hand the nostalgia and experience would be fun (I like the polaroid format of the prints) but on the other hand, using the tutorial (https://www.slrlounge.com/make-polaroid-framed-picture-photoshop-aaron-nace/) from Aaron Nace I could basically create the same print. Not to knock WhiteAlbum by any means because I do like their creativity and what they are bringing the public… but $20 is pricey. Also, do they decide which print get a circle crop? Looking at the sample images held in the hand I see regular square prints and prints cropped in a circle.

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