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Fashion photographer finds toy camera challenging to use, but not impossible

A good way to test your skill as a photographer is to see how well your pictures come out if you use low-grade equipment, like, perhaps, a Japanese toy camera made for toddlers. Because photography isn’t just about what you use, it’s how you use it, and that is what fashion photographer Lara Jade did in Hong Kong as part of DigitalRev TV’s Cheap Camera Challenge.

During a six-hour layover in Hong Kong, Jade, a New York City-based photographer who shoots for global clients, was challenged to capture couture fashion models with the An Pan Man (アンパンマン, for those who read Japanese) 0.3-megapixel camera, a toy camera based off of a cartoon character with a bread bun for a head; it is the kind of thing you might find for cheap at a Toys R Us in Asia.

She was allowed to dress up the models with expensive clothes and makeup, and came up with nine photos of three different looks within the short amount of time in Hong Kong. She did use AlienSkin Exposure 7 to “process the tones” of the photos, so what you see is not just the work of the camera. In two of the photos she shot through a drinking glass for a mild warping effect.

Jade’s thoughts on using the An Pan Man? “Never trust cameras that need AA batteries,” and she disliked “the tiny viewfinder [as well as] the fact that it wanted to compliment the models in Japanese before it even took the shot.” The shutter had about a three-second lag after pushing the button (in order to compliment the subject first, of course.) Her strategy composed of making what was outside of the camera as good as possible, “[relying] on the team and model to inspire me throughout the shoot.” She focused on making the model striking against the background, whether by compliment or contrast. Jade’s final thoughts were that she “had a great time, great experience, it took me back to my roots as a photographer, and also reminded me what it is to take a great image.”