Cultural Probe: Design & Findings – Ang Xin Yee

After having a conversation with my film photographer friend, I realised that much of her work requires precision and luck since you don’t get to see the end product until you are done with the film roll. As such, I thought about designing a cultural probe for digital photographers to have a hand in “film photography”. 

For my cultural probe, I placed into a pouch:

  • A diary
  • A disposable camera
  • A pen

I had friend who is a hobbyist digital photographer and was going overseas during the recess week. Thus, I had him do the cultural probe throughout his 5D4N trip to Bali. 

The tasks were all written in the diary as such:


The below texts are all written by the participant

Beginning reflections

As someone who relies a lot on looking at the digital end-product first before deciding whether another photo should be taken, I’ve always had a fear of using film cameras because of the insecurity of being unable to check my photos. Also, film feels more insecure because I wouldn’t know if the picture is taken; I can’t re-create a certain scene and go back to take it after finding out that the photo wasn’t taken, especially since this is an overseas trip. Hopefully, through this experience I hope to change my perspective of insecurity towards film.

Ending reflections

I would think that since it was a disposable camera instead of a manual film one, my initial worry of photos not being taken were not applicable since disposable cameras are foolproof to use.

Something that I found myself doing is that I choose what I want to shoot with film more wisely as compared to using a digital camera. Moreover, I think that I used the camera more sparingly at the start of the trip since I was scared of “what if there are better scenes the following days?”, so I was more liberal towards the end of the trip. I’m excited to see how my photos turn out because I took them with more care.

Table of number and type of photos taken

From the results, I was quite surprised that I hardly took any portraits but I think it can be attributed to the fact that portraits are hard to come out nice so my fear of ‘wasting’ a shot is still quite apparent.

This exercise was an eye-opener to me since I have yet to experience film photography. It has also gotten rid of a few of my fears regarding film photography.

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