Gen Z called: Digital cameras are back

Digital cameras are making a comeback, adding a staple piece the "it-girl" aesthetic. Kassidy Tsikitas| Photographer

By Erika Kuehl | Staff Writer

The digital camera is a time capsule. They were primarily used for a family photo with multiple takes because someone had their eyes closed, but these cameras aren’t just for our grandparents anymore.

Digital cameras have been revamped into an “it-girl” staple all over social media. Something about the warm glow of the photo has Generation Z in a choke hold.

Dr. Zachary Sheldon, a Baylor lecturer in film and digital media, said that social media is a big part of the reason digital cameras are making a comeback.

“I think a lot of it has to do with what do we do on social media, like what is social media for,” Sheldon said. “Some of it has to do with our experiences. We post about what we do, but you don’t post about everything you do to your actual Instagram feed. In terms of things you share in a semi-permanent state, it’s very selective.”

Sheldon said that because of the sudden resurgence of ’80s themes, movies and TV shows such as “La La Land” and “Stranger Things” bring back old-style media and create nostalgia in their audience. These ’80s themes have affected not only film, but also the photography world.

“In a lot of ways, they are evoking cultural themes they’ve seen before,” Sheldon said. “Typically, the reason that people adopted Polaroids and digital cameras in the past is because they were new. Now, instead of getting the newest thing, we’re going back. There is this perception that the older things are more authentic because they came from simpler times.”

Sheldon said people are veering away from phone photography because digital cameras exhibit an authentic feel. He noted that the same thing happened with Instagram filters. When the app was created, filters and editing were trendy, but as the app gained more traction, filters appeared unauthentic, and people stopped using them.

“That difference in how they make the images look is a key component of conveying some kind of authenticity,” Sheldon said. “I think that’s really what it’s all about. People are trying to capture and then convey that the things they’re doing and the experiences they’re having have some kind of a marker of an authentic experience like they’ve seen in their parents’ past or in the media. In a lot of ways, they are evoking cultural themes they’ve seen before.”

Dallas junior Phoebe Schuch is an avid digital camera user. Instead of buying a new camera, her mom gave her their family’s childhood camera they used in the early 2000s.

“I like it better because, not just a phone picture but also a nice camera picture, because I think it looks better than a phone camera, even though it’s older than my phone,” Schuch said. “I can bring it in my back pocket wherever I go because it’s so small. I also like that it has an older look because that’s coming back. I just think it looks better.”

Schuch said that her parents also used the camera to hold memories, but now she uses it for social media to add a vintage feel.

“I noticed it within the past six months, almost everyone uses them now,” Schuch said. “I just think it makes our Instagram look so much more professional. It makes everything look cleaner and put together. I think it’s so cool because it’s been going on forever, but it’s just now resurfacing.”

Erika Kuehl is a sophomore journalism student from Southern California, with a minor in film and digital media. In her first year at the Lariat, she is excited to learn from her peers and develop as a writer. She is very passionate about writing music and movie reviews. After graduation, she plans to write for a significant publication outside the state.