Back to the roots... Shooting film again! / by nicole struppert

After shooting some years with my Leica M8 I traded the M8 for a M6 in mint condition. Many people asked me  "Why film? Film is old fashion, too expensive - you are insane buying a camera film body for 1000€"  etc..  

London, Olympus Trip, Ilford HP5

London, Olympus Trip, Ilford HP5

Well, it all depends on what kind of photography you like to do. In this times we are getting more and more obsessed by gear... Every few months companies launch new cameras with more MP, faster AF, more menus, stuff like eye detection, wireless remote shooting and many more... It seems that most of us get infected in all this details and forget what it is about photography! A camera is at least a tool which helps you to tansfer your vision and style.

You can take great pictures with nearly every camera - if it's an iphone, DSLR, point & shoot, mirrorless, rangefinder or anything else. The most important thing is at least finding the right camera for YOUR vision and style. For me it is a bit like finding the right partner - once you found it you should stick with it! 

I also was infected by all the gear talk. I was reading reviews, I wrote reviews and I was consuming photography. I tried to shoot as much as I could - to get better - to work on my vision and style - to get a sense on what I like and don't. As a photographer you go through different stages...

First, it is all about gear and shooting everything and everyone. This is good, cause you'll start to feel safe with your equipment and settings... After a while you will notice that you start to analyze your shots - that you want to shoot better images, you'll rise your demands... You'll also will get bored of your stuff, frustrated and will loose the fun...

We all went through these stages... and it is difficult from time to time... The best thing what you can do then is taking a break! Don't be harsh on you and push you to limits... My believe is that all photos we take come straight from our heart... If we feel something - we can take great shots! 

So be confident and don't push yourself too hard if there are weeks of shootings with boring and useless pictures. You'll see that the fun of taking pictures will come back when you don't put too much pressure on yourself! 

London, Olympus Trip - Kodak Tri-X 400

London, Olympus Trip - Kodak Tri-X 400

I shot with various cameras... Nikons, Fuji x-Cameras and Leica Rangefinders... I found out that it is better for your photography to stick with one camera and one or two focal lengths. It all depends on what kind of photography you are into. There is no perfect match for everyone... Each of us has to find out his perfect match! 

I decided to concentrate just on two cameras this year. One digital and one analog - the Leica M6 and the Fuji x100s. Both cameras are fantastic tools - which fit perfectly to my workflow. 

So why going back shooting film?
2 years ago I bought a point and shoot Olympus Trip at Camden Market. The camera just costs 25 pounds and I wasn't sure if it would work. But I thought it would be nice to give it a try to see if I would love going back shooting film.

The last time I shot a roll of film was in 1990! I spent my summer in Hawaii and my father gave me his Rollei 35! Me and my friends spent one perfect day at Waimea Falls Park, hiking, swimming - having just the best day of our lifes. I captured nearly everything to freeze this special moment in my life. When I got back to Germany I found out that the film didn't wind. I got no pictures! I was so frustrated that I stopped shooting film!

I restarted with photography when digital cameras entered the market! This was a bitter experience - now I can laugh about it- all the pictures are still in my heart and I feel great to remember that day. 

When I got back the first rolls of film from the Olympus Trip I was so curious about the results. The camera has it quirks and I knew that I wouldn't get clean, perfect shots... But this wasn't my intention.

London, Olympus Trip, Ilford HP5

London, Olympus Trip, Ilford HP5

First of all I enjoyed shooting with film. It slows down your workflow - it keeps you in the process to think before you take a frame. You need to understand photography - you need to understand the play of aperture, time and ASA... I just shot my first roll of Tri-X  with the M6. I am curious about the results... I am curious if I can get great pictures out of it. Working with the M6 makes me work to become a better photographer... I do need to go more into details - I will have frustrating moments, I will miss shots of certain situations - but the day will come and I will understand my camera and be able to get great and beautiful shots out of it.

One reason why I am going back to shoot film is that I love the texture and grain of film. Film has soul - a blurred, under- or overexposures picture will still has its fascination and artistic look. This is an expression I love and I tried to develop with my digital files... I come close - but it will never look as film.  

London, Olympus Trip, Kodak Tri-X 400 

London, Olympus Trip, Kodak Tri-X 400 

This year will be an exciting journey... it will be a lot about experimenting, learning and just having fun!