Disposables: Gilroy Garlic Festival

I love disposable cameras. They’re impulsive and playful and perfect for catching silly moments without the buzzkill of “wait, hold that pose!” while you fiddle with settings to get them just so. Click! toss back in bag, and go. Ideal for small towns and campfires and circus performances — as retro and unpredictable as their subjects. Rather than feeling like a burden, the weight of each photo — deciding whether or not to use a frame, a conundrum that digital film has all but erased — is as liberating as running around barefoot, as empowering as doling out candy to a bunch of kids. That’s right, I just took a picture without even planning it! And it’s gonna be awesome! Even more awesome when the camera is rediscovered months or years later with no recollection and no indication of what might be hidden within. It’s a miniature time capsule, packed with juicy tidbits of forgotten seconds. Inevitably the photos are poorly framed, or the action has lapsed into some mundane gesture, or the lighting is all wrong, but there’s the beauty and the appeal of reality. These images seem, in a way, more true-to-life than a glossy, high-resolution, Photoshop production. Perhaps because they look like our memories — supersaturated, slightly fuzzy, and going dark around the edges.

I finally finished the reel on this disposable and got the photos developed. I had no idea they went all the way back, over a year ago, to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in the summer of 2010. Here’s a few — no cropping, no color adjustments, with an envelope of negatives as well as the cd — disposable photos fresh and tasty:

Garlic ice cream, the undisputed food celebrity at the festival. The line for the stand offering free cones wove through the fairgrounds a hundred people long. Then there was this one, where $5 snagged you half a cantelope filled with flavored ice cream of your choosing [all flavors complimented with garlic, of course]. I got the special garlic pecan praline . . .

Not as horrible as you might think, despite my expression! The creaminess of the ice cream mellowed out the garlic into a mild tang which, if you didn’t think too hard about where it was coming from, wasn’t too strange. Or my taste buds were so shot from the beer-battered garlic fries, the shrimp scampi, the garlic stir fry, that I didn’t notice the overload!

Check out that meat! Check out that flame! The pit master on the left was using a spray bottle to douse the slabs in marinade without getting too close to the heat. I’m pretty sure the guys on the right didn’t even notice the bonfire.

Massive chicken balloons! [“Say no to plumping!”] No county fair is complete without inflatable animals, except in California the booths advocate fair trade practices and every trash bin is accompanied by recycling and compost.

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