Journaling Tips #1: Using An Instant Film Camera

Some of you may have new year’s resolutions to write a bit more in your journal, maybe even – gasp! – every day. I resolve to write more in my journal all the time! So, in some ways, you may consider me an expert in resolving to write more. My next goal is to become an expert in writing more. And then after that, writing well…

Here’s one idea to consider for your new year of journal writing, or wherever you are in your journalling journey.

Journaling Tip #1: Get an “Instant” or polaroid-style camera like this. Bring it with you wherever you go, and take a shot some time during your day of something memorable. Whenever your journal writing time is, pull out your snap, and off you go. 

The camera itself is a little bulky (although not too heavy) to carry around, but I think it’s worth it. It’s not quite the same as you taking a photo with your phone, and printing it out later.

Because it’s a instant camera that prints out the shot immediately, and you’ve got limited film (that you have to pay for!), you also aren’t just taking photos willy-nilly with your phone. The whole idea is that you become a bit more mindful of what’s going on during your day, which is one of the things that journal writing is supposed to bring out in you in any case. You’re on the look-out for that something.

Your physical photo is a bit more intimate and private and can be more fun. It’s your own snapshot of something during your day, and it doesn’t matter if it’s something silly or trivial, and you don’t have to think about what anyone else thinks, like if you post it on social media, although of course you can if it’s something you want to share (obviously you would have to use your phone to take a photo of your photo – I know: it’s deep stuff.).

For example:

  • an exciting arrival in the mail
  • the dishwasher is loaded perfectly
  • you really like your pen + ink combo
  • a much-needed coffee break at your local cafe
  • you spent a few minutes organizing your desk at work
  • you see some interesting graffiti on a wall
  • you’re bored at the doctor’s office, but you’ve got a doctor
  • a beautiful afternoon sky
  • you’re reading a book you love
  • your kid has spilled a Cheerios on the floor and the dog is eating them all up

Whatever it is, you pull out your trusty camera and you take your photo.

Once you get started taking a picture a day, you may find you’re keeping your eyes and mind open for what’s going on around you. You just notice more. There’s no pressure to get a beautiful or perfect shot, it doesn’t have to be related to any topic, it doesn’t have to be artistic, it just has to be something that sparks a thought or a memory or a moment in you.

Because the photo prints out as soon as you snap the shot, you’ve got it in your hand, and it’s something to look at as you go through the day. However, what I really love is the fact that it’s just that one, it’s really something to treasure.

Don’t mind my sock at the bottom left corner of this shot…

And that’s the inspiration to get you started with your writing. Every night it’s something to write about. Once you start writing, you may find more comes out after that – sometimes the hardest part is just starting.

And, while I’m not really someone who reads through my past journals, it is a really great way to really see the small and big things that touched your life over the past days and weeks and months.

I would usually say don’t worry about missing a day or more, but in some ways, forcing yourself to have the discipline to do this everyday is what creates the habit.

It encourages you to truly be mindful and to watch out for just that right moment in your day. You’re not like snapping 20 shots with your phone because you’ve got the space and you can delete any messed up ones – you have to make each shot count, and I think for a lot of us, that’s not a half-bad way to go through life, being aware and alive of each moment we have.

Sometimes it’s easy to think to ourselves, well, nothing really happened today. But every day, miracles happen! Or if not miracles, something to appreciate – we just need to start looking. Every day, your dog needs a belly rub, or you have dinner with your family, or the bus comes as soon as you arrive at the stop, or you drive past a place that has a million memories. And that’s pretty amazing.


(I also actually kind of like the waxy quality to the photos that the Instax makes.)


12 thoughts on “Journaling Tips #1: Using An Instant Film Camera

  1. Janet

    I’m gonna get a little printer (Fujifilm Sp-1) that can do instant prints from my phone. Looking forward to an easier way to add pics to my journal!

    1. Liz Post author

      Great idea! I’m thinking of getting one of those as well – I have a lot of photos on my phone that would be nice to print 🙂

      1. C.C.

        Liz, thank you for the great idea, it is just what I needed to inspire more journaling( or at least to start) It was lovely meeting you live at the letter writing club. We didn’t get a chance for a proper introduction ( you helped me with the sealing wax) ,so let me introduce myself, I am Cricita and I thouroughly enjoy reading your posts. I know I have an instant camera tucked away some where, you have inspired me to pull it out and begin photoing today😀

      2. Liz Post author

        I’m so glad you found the post helpful! And I’m also so glad you were able to make it on Sunday – it was nice to meet you, and to write letters next to you 🙂
        Thanks so much for reading and following along with the blog! I hope you find your camera, and also a bit of inspiration for your journaling 🙂

  2. sarah creech (@sayrahcreech)

    Thanks for another lovely blog update, Liz! Loving following along with your shop and adorable family (and paper and pens and washi tape…) This is my second year keeping some amalgam of the bullet and hobonichi journalling systems, and you have sold me on incorporating instax photos. I purchased one of the fuji printers Janet mentioned above. It’s not as instant as your click and print camera, but I’m a professional graphic designer and it allows me some of the control I need like cropping or a little bit of image color adjustment. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos and washi tape and beautiful handwriting in 2016!

    1. Liz Post author

      Thanks so much for reading and following along and taking the time to comment! I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. I am also trying to convince Jon I need a printer for phone photos …I was thinking more that it would be nice to have the sticky backing and also a thinner photo, but the editing might also be really helpful! I’m looking forward to another year of writing and blogging, and hopefully I can convince Jon I also need some more washi tape 🙂

  3. Ruth

    Groan – just when I think I own every fountain pen I could ever conceivably want, another “must have” comes along. This baby is now on my wish list. I need to start saving up my pocket money again, having just spent it all on the Edison Collier (which I’m really looking forward to).

    1. Liz Post author

      Oh, Ruth! Haha 🙂 You are too funny. I hope you enjoy your Edison – I packed it up myself!! 🙂 And maybe one day to enjoy some instant photos, too!

    1. Liz Post author

      Yes, I’d also like to get one of the phone printers, too, especially since some print with a sticky back! I think they’d be thinner than the Instax I already have. Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment! 🙂

  4. Lilith

    Love this idea! You have me coveting an Instax camera now, even though I already have a Polaroid Zip printer and Canon Selphy printer. Those old fashioned Polaroid-style photos have so much character. Like old fashioned pens! 😀

    1. Liz Post author

      I have been doing the opposite – haha! I’ve been trying to convince Jon I need one of the Zip printers so I can print them out and stick them in. The Instax is a bit too thick to go into the Hobonichi, and it would be nice to just stick it in. We’ll see! 🙂


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