Disposable Magazine is an independent publication that celebrates global creativity. It was founded by Anais Vandenbosch in 2009, and since its start, the magazine has sought to create something lasting by using the most humble of tools — the disposable camera. For each issue, the Disposable team sends cameras to individuals from all corners of the world and brings their film photographs to life through the medium of print.
Hoping to learn more about the vision behind the LA-based publication, we asked the team behind Disposable Magazine a few questions. Here’s what they had to say.
How did the idea for Disposable Magazine come about?
When Anais was living in Tokyo, she realized she had an increasing desire to see what people were wearing and doing outside of standard travel destinations like Paris, London, and New York. She was curious about the places that weren’t typically showcased in the media, and wanted to see them in an average, everyday light. Since she didn’t have enough money to travel at the time, she thought of a different way to see these places — the idea was to send a disposable camera to individuals across the world and have them document their day-to-day lives.
When and where was the first camera sent?
The first camera was sent to Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2009. The pictures that came from that roll were amazing, and vastly different from any other content we were seeing on the Internet at the time. Soon after, we sent a second camera to Haiti, post-earthquake. But after that, the project took a hiatus. Life got in the way — at least, until 2014, when Anais met with Erika, Chrissy, Alx, and Alaia, who decided to push the concept further. That’s when Disposable Magazine was truly born.
How soon after that did you start working on the first issue?
We worked on Issue 1 directly after that — we saw it as our “manifesto.” We contacted 10 amazing women from across the world and sent them individual cameras. Again, the pictures we got back were incredibly unique and inspiring. Soon after the rolls were developed, we launched the website, and the first issue was officially for sale.
Who was working on the magazine at that time?
Anais and Erika worked on the launch of Issue 1 alongside Joan, who writes the copy. But after Issue 1, we realized that we needed help with graphic design and art direction. That’s when Alx and Alaia came on board and started to work on Issue 2, along with a website redesign and the design for small branded goods. Today, we all work together and take part in every aspect of the project — in our opinion, it’s the best way to work.
Has the goal of the project changed since its inception?
Our initial goal was to highlight the amazing people who inspire us around the world. We got tired of always seeing the same kind of people popularized, and felt we needed to create a platform that highlighted what people do, not simply who they are. We loved the idea of using disposable cameras because the Insta-Photoshopped landscape allows very little room for mistakes and imperfection. But disposable cameras embrace just that. You get 27 shots — you have to think before clicking and take a risk with the result. Today, our goal is still the same.
How did you spread the word and gain a global contributor pool?
We’re always looking for inspiring people from all parts of the world, regardless of whether they’re in the public eye or “under the radar.” We haven’t been aggressive in terms of marketing or ads, though — we don’t have the money for it, since everything goes into film development and printing for the magazine. On top of that, we’re also the most socially awkward girls in Los Angeles, so we don’t have the extensive list of contacts that other publications might have. We just utilize social media and reach out to the people we think are doing interesting things.
What has been the most challenging aspect of running an indie mag?
Time — hands down. Everyone who works on the magazine also has full-time jobs, so finding time to work or meet about Disposable is definitely the most challenging part of the project. But we seem to make it work.
In what ways has the magazine surprised you or exceeded your expectations?
We were really surprised to see people’s enthusiasm toward the work we do, and we actually still receive a lot of resumes and project applications. Although we would absolutely love to be able to hire a full team, we don’t have the funds just yet — but hopefully one day we will!
What’s next for Disposable Magazine?
Issue 1 was our manifesto. But a year after the initial publication, when we were ready to print Issue 2, we realized that we had way too much content to limit ourselves to just one printed issue a year. So, we’ve been working on a new solution. Starting this year, we’ll have a main “yearbook” that will feature our favorite content for that year, as well as specialty prints and smaller issues revolving around themes like pink, plants, nude, cars, and so on. Oh, and we also have a collaboration with Urban Outfitters in the works, in addition to the launch of Issue 3. It’s all very exciting!