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A Therapist Says This Is the No. 1 Gift for Gen Z This Year: ‘It's Cool, Authentic and Real'

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Trying to figure out what trendy gadget to buy Gen Z this holiday season? As it turns out, the perfect gift might be collecting dust in your closet.

Just ask my 18-year-old neice, Layla. This May, as she walked around congratulating friends after her graduation ceremony, I noticed something in her hand: an old-school point-and-shoot film camera that she found in her basement a few months ago.

It was the same Canon Snappy my sister brought on our family trip to Europe in 1987. Why would my ultra-hip niece be so into something bulky and outdated?

Why film cameras are the perfect gift for Gen Z

In my therapy practice, I primarily work with people under 40. Many of my millennial clients have memories of what life was like before the Internet, social media and smartphones.

But Gen Z is made up of true digital natives. Born between 1997 and 2012, they've been texting friends and taking smartphone photos for as long as they can remember. But a film camera is a fun connection to a time they never experienced.

Beyond the nostalgic appeal, capturing special moments with friends and family is uniquely important to Gen Z right now, especially since they missed out on so many due to the pandemic.

Smartphones allow us to take hundreds of photos. But with an old-school camera — unless you have an endless amount of money to buy and develop film — you only get a few shots to capture something candid and spontaneous. As one Gen Z client tells me, it forces you to take stock of what's going on and focus on the tiny details to get a good picture.

Plus, what they capture is unedited and unfiltered. It's cool, authentic and real — you can hold it in your hands or frame it on a wall. I can't imagine a better gift.

Picking the right camera

There are many types of point-and-shoot cameras to choose from, like an instant film camera, or one that requires going to a store to get the film developed.

You can personalize the gift by picking a camera in your recipients' favorite color. Need some inspiration? Here are some of my favorite point-and-shoot cameras:

1. Kodak M38 35mm Film Camera With Flash ($35)

The Kodak M38 is classic, easy to use, and comes in multiple colors.

Favorite features:

  • Fixed-focus, wide-angle lens
  • Compatible with color and black-and-white film
  • Built-in flash for nighttime shooting

2. Holga 135BC 35mm Bent Corners Film Camera ($59)

This iconic camera is effortlessly vintage and creates a soft vignette effect.

Favorite features:

  • Manual zone focusing with marked distance icons
  • Bulb setting for long exposure photography
  • Comes with tripod socket

3. Canon Ivy CLIQ2 Instant Camera Printer ($79)

This Canon isn't your typical point-and-shoot. It automatically prints photos onto a peel and stick film, meaning your recipient won't need to get their film developed.

Favorite features:

  • Pocket-sized
  • Instant film
  • Large selfie mirror in the front

Tess Brigham is a San Francisco-based psychotherapist and certified life coach. She has more than 10 years of experience in the field and primarily works with millennials and millennial parents.

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