You're probably wondering why anyone would use a 23-year-old toy camera that's only capable of producing grayscale photos with 2-bit resolution (128 x 112) and 4-color palette options.
Even budget phone cameras can take better photos than the Game Boy Camera. But like shooting film or Polaroids, the Game Boy Camera's sprite image quality, technological limitations, and nostalgia are what makes it so appealing.
“I love its quirks and I am beyond blown away by the features (timelapse, trick lenses, photo editing, mini games, music programmer). I love the aesthetic. It's been described as digital dirt, but it makes you pause a second to figure out what the image really is.”
Jean-Jacques, who is based in London and originally from Monaco, says he started shooting with the Game Boy Camera in 2013. But it wasn't until 2016 when he posted his photos to Instagram that things started heating up.
Gack says he found Brian Khuu's Arduino Library that emulated the Game Boy Printer and with the lockdown in Germany last year, he wanted a project to work on. He ended up improving on the Printer emulator tool and even added a Wi-Fi feature.
“The fun working with the camera mostly comes from the restriction it has. Like the four gray tones, the low resolution, and no real way to control the exposure and the fixed focus. All these give the images a distinct and recognizable style but still enough freedom to be creative.”
“I bought a Game Boy Camera out of curiosity. It is so terribly limited that you have to take a completely different approach. You can't just point and shoot. You really have to look for contrast and textures.”
Based in the midwest, he's been using his Game Boy Camera to document America's backyard since 2018. Graves told Input he owns several Game Boys and brings along several Game Boy Cameras units with him to shoot. Each Game Boy Camera can only save 30 photos so having multiple cartridges on hand is essential. It's sort of like shooting with film.
Graves also is known in the community for his impressive Game Boy Camera mods. For example, this one is a custom hand-made Game Boy Camera with a lens adapter attached to a Game Boy Advance. He also added a wooden grip for added comfort, a lithium-ion battery that charges via USB-C (yes!), and a shutter button. It's cool as hell.
Asked he'll if ever lose interest in Game Boy Camera photography, Graves says “I don't think I'll ever get out of it. It's something unique and creative and it's itching that creative streak in me.”