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Shooting With a Nintendo Game Boy Camera from 1998

Photographer Theo Acworth’s series ‘Jambo Nintendo’ uses technology that predates the first camera phone.

A little while ago I spotted a Nintendo Game Boy Camera in a second hand shop and my eyebrows went up. It looked pretty jazzy, like someone had melted an old webcam onto a game. Some of you probably own and have used these things before, but I had never come across one. I bought it straight away.

Here are some facts I found out:

  • Released 1998.
  • Shoots 256 x 224 pixel images.
  • Held Guinness World Record for smallest digital camera. Awesome.
  • Stores up to 30 images at a time.
  • Printer uses thermal paper.
  • Produces a monochrome image the size of a stamp. I’m in love.

By all normal standards, this is an awful camera. That’s true, but it’s also amazing. This little beast predates the first camera phone, so give it a break. Shooting with it is strangely enjoyable, you definitely have to work with its limitations to get an image where you can actually identify what you’re looking at, but that’s half the fun.

What I’m so stoked about is stumbling on a completely new way to take and print photographs that I didn’t even know existed, and it was created by a bunch of Nintendo dudes trying to entertain kids. It’s very different from a darkroom process, but it’s a process nonetheless. Watching your little photo buzzing out of the printer is pretty magic. You get something a little different and 100% unique, and I reckon that’s rad.

So I might look like a bit of a spanner shooting with it, but the game loading screen while you print is a little bear running on a beachball. Can’t argue with that.

My photo series Jambo Nintendo is ongoing. The title was taken from one of the many (many) bizarre and unexplained parts of the game that comes with the camera.

Check out Theo Acworth’s series *Jambo Nintendo) below, and find more of his work at his online portfolio, built using Format.

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