World Toy Camera Day is celebrated annually around the world on the third Sunday of October, on October 17 this year. Despite the name, toy cameras are functional cameras that can take pictures. Since they are cheap models, they don’t have any controls, but photographers still like to use them as their distortions make for very interesting photos.
History of World Toy Camera Day
American photographer Becky Ramotowski was inspired by Pinhole Photography Day to create a day that would celebrate the kind of photos a toy camera could take.
She decided that, going forward, the third Sunday of October would be celebrated as World Toy Camera Day, and it caught on. Today, photographers around the world celebrate the blurry, distorted photos taken with toy cameras.
Being inexpensive film cameras that are built with simple lenses, toy cameras don’t have a lot of features, and it’s hard to predict what kind of photos might emerge from a toy camera. But good photographers have been able to use them to take artistic photographs.
There has been a growing interest in the kind of effects that a toy camera produces in photographs since the 1990s. These effects, such as lens flares, light leaks, vignettes, and distortions, all add texture and points of interest to an otherwise flat photograph. While these effects can be applied to digital photographs with filters, the photos taken on toy cameras are still unique.
Even if you aren’t a professional, toy camera photography is a fun way to get used to taking photos and have fun with a camera. The photos always have a nostalgic, vintage effect to them — no filters required.
Becky Ramotowski, the creator of World Toy Camera Day, believes that toy cameras let her have a more spontaneous relationship with the art of photography. They take the pressure off, allowing you to just enjoy pointing your camera and shooting, without thinking too much about the results.
World Toy Camera Day timeline
One of the world’s first toy cameras is invented in Hong Kong.
A campaign portrait of Al Gore is captured by photographer David Burnett on a Holga camera.
Photographer Becky Ramotowski is inspired by Pinhole Photography Day to establish World Toy Camera Day.
Israeli photographer Oded Balilty wins a Pulitzer Prize for his powerful image of a Jewish settler defying Israeli soldiers
World Toy Camera Day FAQs
Do toy cameras work?
Yes. They may have fewer settings than high-tech DSLR cameras, but they can still capture images — all you need is the right amount of light.
Who uses toy cameras?
Everyone from kids to professional photographers use toy cameras, and for all kinds of photography.
Where can you buy a toy camera?
Toy cameras can be found in most retail stores across the country.
World Toy Camera Day Activities
Go on a photo walk
Find a group of people going on a walking tour and take your toy camera along for some quirky shots.
Share your photography online
Use the hashtag #WorldToyCameraDay and share the photos you’ve taken with other toy camera enthusiasts around the world.
Take a photography class
Find a photography expert in your neighborhood who can help you make the most of your toy camera’s capabilities.
5 Fun Facts About Toy Cameras
Lomography is photography attributed to toy cameras
Lomography takes its name from the Soviet-era cameras produced by the Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedinenie (LOMO).
Toy camera photography has been exhibited
An example of this is the annual “Krappy Kamera” exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in New York City.
“Popular Photography” loves the Diana
“Popular Photography” magazine acknowledges Diana toy camera photography as an art form in its own right.
You can get the lomography effect on your phone
Most camera-phone editing apps include a lomography filter.
Becky Ramotowski collects toy cameras
At last count, the photographer had more than 20 toy cameras in her New Mexico home
Why We Love World Toy Camera Day
Toy cameras are for everyone
You don’t need to be a professional photographer to point your toy camera and shoot some pictures.
Toy cameras have great effects
The photos from a toy camera need no filters to look interesting in a world of digitally perfect images.
You can celebrate with other photographers
Toy cameras have a cult following the world over, and it's a great way to celebrate photography with people with all kinds of expertise.
World Toy Camera Day dates