I don’t know about you, but I have this terrible habit of always wanting to rush through things; and for a perfectionist, it is the definition of hell itself, because I want to get many things done all at once while expecting them to be done well. So basically, I am the French guy preaching the importance of joie de vivre and the importance of slowing down while rushing through my life like the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
So I decided I should do everything I can to cure myself of this disease once and for all. Or at least try that is; as getting things done and ticking off lists is very important to me and my sanity…
So anyway, one of the fields in which the disease had creeped itself in was photography. I’d take 10 frames of everything, worried that I would not get the picture I wanted in just one shot. Ah the joy of digital photography! It doesn’t cost anything to take pictures anymore, so why should I bother to think or take my time?! The cure? Go back to film! I was a little apprehensive at first, but a good friend told me that if our grandmas used to be able to do it, we sure as hell could do it too!
I didn’t want to let go of picture quality though, so I chose to invest in a medium format camera. A 50 year old Mamiya like the one in the picture below. I have been shooting with it for a few weeks now, and boy was it the right cure for my disease!
- I know each shot costs about 1€ in film alone (a roll of 12 is about 10€), so I take more time to plan each photograph. My basic rule is to never take a picture I wouldn’t be proud to print and hang on a wall in my home.
- I had to really learn more and pay attention to the basics of photography (composition, light, exposure…).
The side effect of all this is that I am able to take better pictures even with my modern cameras (oh, yes, by the way, I’m am not a crazy person! I won’t be letting go of those. They are just way too practical).
My advice to those of you who’d like to take better pictures with your big modern DSLRs, without going all the way back to film like I did, is to use your phone cameras more! Focus on composition, subject and light! I promise it will make you a better photographer!!
Using film cameras, and especially one of these old twin lens monsters, is also a fantastic ice breaker between you and my “models”. It makes street photography and portraiture an absolute breeze and a joy. I always ask people if I can take their picture (OK, almost always). But with my big DSLR, even if a nice smile goes a long way, I would say that 20 to 30% of the people I ask turn me down. When I approach people with the film camera (and a smile) however, nearly everyone says yes and most people will actually start a conversation with me. The older folks will tell me they haven’t seen a camera like this in decades and that “they were so wonderful” and “these were the good old times” etc… The kids (and by kids I mean anyone between the ages of 4 and 35) find it absolutely “wicked” or “cool” as they say. Some people even come to me to ask if I can take THEIR picture.
You see?! I’m a real hipster now! I have the beard and the old film camera… OK, I know, I need to loose a “few” pounds and I don’t have any hair left for a man bun, but you know… I feel quite “cool” :0) :0)
Anyway, I could write bout this for hours (and probably will in the future), but my point is that with film, I found yet another way to slow down and appreciate my French heaven more… I now take more walks in the vineyard or along the river to take pictures. I found inspiration and purpose again.
Embedded in this post are some of my very first attempts. They were taken along the river in downtown Bordeaux last Sunday. I asked 8 people and 8 people very happily said yes :0)