Spain, Through my Tiny Camera

Programs for this blog post

Teach In Spain Program

Authored By:

Caroline B.

Tiny camera, big heart.

Origins of the Tiny Camera

me and my tiny camera in the mirror

I have a tiny camera. It’s a point-and-shoot Polaroid action cam probably designed for middle school boys’ EDM YouTube skate edits. If you imagine a Walmart version of a GoPro, protected by a red silicone shock barrier, you’ll have a pretty accurate mental image of this delightful little camera. I adore it.

I bought my action cam in January 2023 before a visit to New York City. I wanted to be able to take photos of one of the most photographed cities in the world that weren’t carbon copies of every other image of the city’s streets and landmarks. The camera made my trip memorable and fun and added a layer of whimsy that comes with the novel and fun. What I didn’t expect the camera to provide was a break from my phone and a way to take pictures that allowed me to never take my mobile device out of my purse.

The tiny camera ended up linking me to the city in an almost analog way (gen x readers please don’t cancel me for saying that) and made me feel like I had traveled two decades back in time. It’s a wonderful and refreshing feeling to be able to take grainy, green-tinted, low quality photos to feel connected at once to a city and to a time before iPhones became our cameras, maps, and dopamine dispensers all at once.

the met
The Metropolitain Museum of Art in Manhattan, looking good through the tiny camera's lens.
my mom
My beautiful momma. One of the first photos I took with the tiny camera.
A Brooklyn street with the tiny camera. Felt like a little hipster when I took this.
cental park
Central Park, looking straight out of the '90s thanks to the tiny camera.

Madrid and my Tiny Camera

My tiny camera now lives in my purse, so I rarely leave the house without it. My biggest problem: remembering to use it. With my phone usually in my hand, it’s easy to use it to just snap a few pictures of a pretty Madrid street or sunset. Using my camera usually requires an intentional outing, which I will call a tiny camera walk. 

Tiny camera walks allow me to take mindful strolls just for the purpose of strolling. Swapping the phone for the camera on these walks encourages me to look up and around and engage with my surroundings through my tiny camera’s lens. The camera, in line with its *primitive* photography capacities, automatically zooms quite close to the subject of the photo, framing each shot tightly. This means I must take each photograph with intentionality to ensure the subject I want is in the frame.

The lag time on the camera also helps with my selectivity. Each photo takes about five seconds to process and display on the device’s small screen. Though this may seem like a short amount of time, my iPhone allows me to take up to 20 pictures in that same period. The heightened intentionality my camera forces upon each photo also increases the importance of each photo and makes each one more special to me than any dime-a-dozen, albeit high quality, iPhone picture. 

I’ve taken a few tiny camera walks around my neighborhood – below you’ll find some shots from the park by my house, the Parque Oeste.

A view from a tiny camera walk in Moncloa.
From an Oeste picnic with tiny camera.

Tiny Camera and Friends

Taking my tiny camera on outings and trips with friends has helped me capture memorable moments without the distraction of my phone. Because the tiny camera can’t connect to the internet, when I pick it up I am not informed of all the things happening in the world. No news notifications, WhatsApps, or emails. The camera connects me to the people I am with rather than taking me away from them. 

These pictures of my friends, I think, radiate happiness and silliness and truly embody the moment in which they were taken. With iPhone photography, we might feel the pressure to pose (because what if this shows up on Instagram later?!), but the tiny camera allows for more candid smiles. I think the camera’s whimsiness also makes people smile.

segovia and friends
My wonderful friends (all auxes as well!) on a daytrip to Segovia.
Beautiful Paniz.
dunes and friends
My gorgeous friends enjoying the sand dunes in Gran Canaria.
My coworkers in the teachers' lounge before class.

Tiny Camera for Vibes

Okay, I need to articulate what we’ve all been thinking. These pictures are VIBEY! They all come out with this grainy, green-tinted, retro thing going. I find this aesthetic incredibly nostalgic and fun. Sue me. I love feeling like a time traveler. I also love the effect of the pictures, because my iPhone really can’t recreate this effect with a filter. The tiny camera helps me see landscapes and cityscapes in a new way, and it makes me feel like I’m creating something new rather than taking the same picture that everyone else has.

Here are some flicks from my trips to the Canary Islands and Segovia with the tiny camera.

The sand dunes in Gran Canaria, looking misty through the camera lens.
A casita in Gran Canaria.
beach in gran canaria
A beach cast in golden hour light, in Gran Canaria.
A Segovia view, straight out of James Bond.
gran canaria
A Gran Canaria sunset over the Atlantic.

In Conclusion

My tiny camera helps me take photos of the most special people, places, and moments without the interruption of the phone. It’s never rude to pull out the tiny camera – just fun. I cherish my tiny camera photos more than most high quality iPhone pictures and am excited to capture more moments from my time abroad with its adorable little lens.

I recommend that anyone considering teaching in Spain invest in a tiny camera to memorialize their experience in a novel way. I’ve found exploring this country through my tiny camera incredibly fun, and we could all use a little more fun in our days.