Though the app’s been around for a little while now, I only recently discovered Gudak and all of its nostalgic charm.
I’d noticed a trend on a friend’s Instagram—her photos all shared the same vintage feel, a look I’d assumed she achieved through some filter. When I asked her what app she used to edit her photos to this effect, she explained that she doesn’t edit them, she takes them on the “disposable camera app Gudak”. Perplexed, I asked her what she meant—”Disposable camera” and “app” are rather contradictory—and she pulled up the app on her phone. No less than a minute later I had Gudak downloaded on my own phone, overjoyed by my recent discovery of something that would put a spin on my iPhone photography game. Over the course of a few days I tested out the app, and I’m here to report on what it’s all about.
How It Works
The appeal of Gudak comes from its commitment to bringing back the anticipatory charm of the disposable camera, eliminating the instant access to the photos you take. With a very small field of view, you can snap photos with flash or without, with the additional bonus of adding a time stamp to your photo, just like the old-school disposables allowed. You get 24 shots in each “roll”, and once you use them all up, you send them to the “processing laboratory” where it takes a whole 3 days to develop. You must then wait an hour before your next roll of 24 shots becomes available.
Gudak looks exactly like the back of a disposable camera, with all of the features laid out on the app’s home, and only, screen. Your roll count is shown on the bottom right, with the date stamp located above. The app is as simple as pointing and shooting, using the yellow circle under the field of view, and once you’ve finished the roll, sending your photos to the processing lab requires one click on the green button to the left. Everything is incredibly straightforward, making for a seamless user experience.
I was incredibly excited to have discovered this app, meaning I rushed through my first 24 photos in anticipation of getting them to the processing lab for that 3 day wait. The first shot was pretty anti-climactic, without so much as a “click” to signal that I had actually taken a photo—the only indication that the app had worked was my count of 24 rolled slowly down to 23. Once I was through with all 24, I sent them to the lab where a 72 hour countdown began. I had severely underestimated how frustrating a 3 day wait would be, what with the instant satisfaction that comes from taking a regular old photo with the iPhone app. Every couple of hours I went back to the app to check the countdown, knowing it would have only progressed a small amount since the last time I checked. I slowly began to lose interest in the wait, so once I remembered that the time had come for my big reveal, the photos had already completed development a couple hours prior.
The disposable camera effect ended up being nothing I couldn’t have achieved through a photo editing app. This, paired with the fact that the photos took longer to develop than if I’d actually tried to develop a real disposable camera, resulted in a relatively underwhelming end result. Here are some of my final shots:
While it was fun to take photos without knowing immediately what they would turn out looking like, I would be much more inclined to use the app more frequently if the wait was, say, 24 hours as opposed to 3 whole days. The app seems to be best suited when used on a special occasion, something which you’d be excited to re-visit after a three day wait, but in terms of regular usage, the final product isn’t great enough that I would use it very often.
Gudak does put on modern-spin on the nostalgia of disposable cameras, and the wait adds a fresh, exciting element to the practice of iPhone photography, but that initial excitement is really the best part of the user experience. After that, it’s just a game of shooting and waiting, all for photos that, on one hand, do look vintage, but ultimately could have been achieved through many editing apps.
Gudak is available for $.99 at the App Store