Photos taken on a point-and-shoot digital camera are displayed on a collage. In the past few years, there has been a resurgence in the use of point-and-shoot cameras among teenagers and young adults. “There is a very nostalgic and vintage feel to the images from these types of cameras, which a lot of people enjoy and find cute,” junior Rachel Chung said.
Photos taken on a point-and-shoot digital camera are displayed on a collage. In the past few years, there has been a resurgence in the use of point-and-shoot cameras among teenagers and young adults. “There is a very nostalgic and vintage feel to the images from these types of cameras, which a lot of people enjoy and find cute,” junior Rachel Chung said.
Photo credit: Francie Wallack

Say cheese: Point-and-shoot cameras make a comeback among teens

Ever since the creation of the iPhone in 2007, teenagers and adults alike have relied on their mobile devices to take photos. Compact, versatile and easily portable, iPhones have dominated the recreational photography sphere for years — until now.

At visibly high rates, teens are starting to abandon the clear, high-resolution iPhone camera and are re-discovering the grainy, time-stamping camera that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s: the point-and-shoot camera. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and photographic capacity, the point-and-shoot camera is an easy-to-use medium of photography. Just as it states in its name, to take a photo, you simply point the lens at your subject and shoot the image using a small shutter button.

An additional advantage to the point-and-shoot camera is its durability. On average, point-and-shoot cameras have a lifespan of seven to 10 years and are easily repairable. Many cameras are made with scratch-free lenses and tend to be waterproof.

Two summers ago, when sophomore Allegra Carney was packing for sleepaway camp, she discovered her mom’s old point-and-shoot camera. After using the camera during the summer, Carney said she realized how much she enjoyed taking photos with it.

“It’s fun because it’s not just like taking out your phone to take a picture,” Carney said. “I feel like it’s not as exciting to do that anymore. Now, whenever I take my camera out, people are like, ‘Oh, take a picture of us,’ so there’s more excitement around taking photos.”

Although Carney said she prefers using her iPhone to take scenic photos during the daytime, when in dark settings, she always opts for using her point-and-shoot camera. She explained that this is because of the “warm” and “glossy” look achieved by the flash feature.

“With flash, it always comes out with great pictures,” Carney said. “On iPhones, [the flash] can really show every single pore and imperfection, which people don’t always want in their photos. It’s kind of nice to look at the pictures from the digital camera because it blocks everything out, and people like that look.”

Similarly to Carney, junior Rachel Chung’s point-and-shoot camera also used to belong to her parents. Chung said growing up, her parents would bring their camera on every family vacation and outing. In March 2022, Chung brought the camera on her Arrow Week expedition to document her journey. After this, Chung began bringing her camera with her essentially everywhere she went. She said she appreciates her camera because it presents many opportunities for connection.

“I’ve noticed that whenever I hang out with my friends, we always get roped into using our phones, and then we don’t connect as much,” Chung said. “The main reason why I use my phone when I’m with friends is so that I can take pictures, so I decided to bring my camera instead so that we can still be connected while taking fun photos.”

Chung’s parents, Shung Chung and DC Chung, wrote in an email that they notice the opportunities for connection the camera has given their daughter. They also wrote that they appreciate the multi-generational use of the camera.

“It feels very full circle for us and really nostalgic as well,” Shung and DC Chung wrote. “On those cameras, we have images of our kids growing up, and it’s so special to see something we loved so much reflected in their lives. When they use the cameras with their friends, we can see a connection that cannot be replaced.”

A group of friends dip their feet in the ocean at sunset, captured on a point-and-shoot camera. “I also love the warmth and grain from [the camera] because it captures a very different feel compared to my [iPhone] camera,” Junior Sofia Cianciolo said. (Photo credit: Rachel Chung)
Chung accredits the resurgence of point-and-shoot cameras to the style of photo the camera takes. Unlike an iPhone which takes a clear and high quality image, the point-and-shoot achieves a grainy vintage look. 

The resurgence has also been accredited to the comeback of many popular “Y2K” trends. The point-and-shoot camera rose to popularity in the late 1990s and became a staple in many households by the early 2000s. Although it was merely a household appliance in the early 2000s, it is now a novelty item, cherished and favored by many. 

“[The camera] gives it a nostalgic look, which I really like,” Chung said. “I feel like recently vintage type things have been coming back in style. There is a very nostalgic and vintage feel to the images from these types of cameras which a lot of people enjoy and find cute.”

Chung said she has been deemed “the camera friend” by her close friends because they know she will always show up to a gathering with her camera in hand.

“I just feel like it gives me a creative outlet almost to take all these pictures of me and my friends,” Chung said. “Then, when I go home and upload them I can see and reflect on that night because I will have these photos forever.”

Junior Sofia Cianciolo has been using her digital camera for two years but said it has belonged to her family since 2011. Although Cianciolo brings her camera with her to a variety of locations, her favorite place to bring is to a gathering with friends.

“I love to pull it out at gatherings with friends to take photos of everyone,” Cianciolo said. “There’s something just so in the moment and special about how it looks on this old camera.”

Cianciolo, Chung and Carney all agree that their point-and-shoot cameras are easy to navigate and use. Cianciolo said she encourages others to begin using point-and-shoot cameras and join the many teens and young adults who have re-adopted these devices.

“You can really use any type of camera, the brand doesn’t matter,” Cianciolo said. “As long as you’re able to charge the camera, and buy an SD card, you can start taking photos whenever. It’s really easy, and it’s a lot of fun learning how to use them.”

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