Strap Photo Club Reminds Us What Makes Photography Fun

stripphoto mobile
Strap Photo Club

In the ever-evolving digital age, social media is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the technology of the 21st century can connect us with those never accessible through antiquated forms of communication. But in another way, our reliance on digital screens and devices can alter our experience with the immediate reality right in front of us. Photography, for example, used to be a practice imbued with rituals and repetition that comprised the overall experience—and eventually the gratification of seeing the image. While our cell phones make taking pictures easier, what have we lost? That’s where Strap Photo Club—an emerging disposable camera experience company—comes in. I chatted with the brand’s co-founders Matt Miera and Casey Watters to hear about the three primary pillars driving the brand’s genesis and development.

What is Strap Photo Club?

Strap Photo Club launched with its first activation in September of 2021 back at Goldrush Music Festival in Phoenix. From then until now, the brand's activations have primarily been at music festivals and other gatherings where attendees are able to purchase a camera from a vending machine, return it at the end of their trip, and eagerly await an email with their photos a few days later. Friends can all use the same QR code to get added to a camera, and then everyone will receive the photos together.

It symbolizes going to or living in a moment worth capturing.

- Casey Watters, Co-Founder of Straph Photo Club

They also just launched a membership service through which users receive a fresh camera every month and return their previous camera, so on a regular cadence they get to experience the cycle of photography.

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Strap Photo Club

Delayed Gratification

When I speak to Matt and Casey, they break the driving ethos behind the brand into three main pillars. The first is the notion of delayed gratification, and how increasing the time between shooting and seeing the results can create a more engaging and fulfilling photographic dynamic than that offered by the instant gratification of a smart phone.

“I think my favorite thing along the way has been the excitement that we see after people turn their cameras in,” Matt tells me. Especially if you use the camera for a trip or special event, the delayed results allow you and your friends to relive the experience a few days later, once you’re primed for a trip down memory lane. Too often we take a vast array of photos on our phones during an event and they linger in the hallowed halls of camera rolls, never to be seen again. 

We’re doing something that is putting smiles on people’s faces.

- Matt Miera, Co-Founder of Strap Photo Club

Matt and Casey are developing the photos themselves, and Casey tells me: “Every time I develop the photos, I’m like, ‘this is why.’ Just seeing the joy that these cameras are capturing for people.” The use of a now-antiquated form of photo production also encourages users to potentially dive into the world of film head first. More on that later.

Less Time on Digital Screens

“It allows for a different experience. Your phone can stay in your pocket, you can live in the moment, have more conversations. And spend less time on your digital screens,” Casey explains. By relying on a Strap Photo camera, photographers can leave their phone at home during a busy weekend and simply bring their camera with them.

For Matt, a father, this has been one of the biggest drivers of his commitment to the brand. “Their point of view is looking up at me and they see the bottom of my phone,” he says, referring to his kids. “If I could just put that phone away and have a strap camera at all times…  they react totally differently to a strap camera than my phone.  If I point my phone at them, they’re like, ‘Get that out of my face.’ If I point my strap camera at them, they’ll give me whatever I want,” he smiles to me. People love cameras; phones are too tied up with other experiences and services to illicit the same response as a tried and true camera.

“There’s something really special about that element of this physical—kind of archaic—thing that’s very non intrusive,” Matt adds before Casey interjects: “It’s more playful. You get more authentic reactions… and you kind of see that through the photos.”

Image Quality

Arguably the most obvious benefit of the Strap Photo camera is the distinct quality of film photos that can’t be truly replicated with a smart phone. For those who have loved film photos from afar but never taken any themselves, “disposable cameras are the gateway drug to film,” Casey jokes. As soon as people see the results taken on a film camera, the filtered recreations available through a cell phone will seem like a cheap knock off. 

Film photography is so alluring because of the rituals imbued within it, the delayed gratification required and the distinct quality of the imagery. Strap Photo Club allows novice and advanced photographers alike to taste some of the elements that have made the practice so intriguing for the past century and a half.

Strap Camera a Month Club

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Strap Photo Club

They just launched a program called the Strap Camera a Month Club, giving their audience an opportunity to make film photography a part of their regular routine. Every month, you send back your current camera in exchange for a new one for another month of documenting memories.

The team is also working on a mobile film lab that they can bring to music festivals and also gatherings, which will allow them to develop photos for people on site, reminiscent of one hour photo labs of antiquity. 

“We’re doing something that is putting smiles on people’s faces,” Matt tells me excitedly. With an expanding reach and more opportunity than ever for people to get involved in the coming months, there are many more smiles to come.

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