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Shooting film in street photography and everyday life

May 1, 2024
street photography with film

Yes I know. In a recent post I wrote that I shoot digitally in street photography explaining my reasons and preferences over film. But in last month I tried also using film starting with a simple compact film camera, a beautiful Yashica minitec that I’ve bought online for 60 euros (some shops sell it also at 200!).

I started using film by taking photos at the beach 3 weeks ago with a beautiful but unfortunately expensive Kodak Portra 400 ISO. I was literally swept away by the joy and excitement of shooting on film with an analogue camera, something I used to do as a child years and years ago (with an Olympus zoom now not working and the classic disposable cameras). The thrill of not knowing what I captured, the mechanical sound of shutter, and the film winding process. But above all, it’s the film’s rendering in colors and black and white, and obviously the grain that adds a poetic touch, something that the sharpness, the contrast and perfection of digital photography will never achieve. This experience has motivated me even more to explore film photography. Many years ago, I took photos with a Nikon F (I don’t remember the specific model) developing and printing at home by myself with my father. It was a beautiful experience, but it took time, and the results were not great. I wasn’t ready; I was still mesmerized by technology and the clarity of digital images. Film was boring and obsolete. Pixels were my must without any doubt.

street photography with film

But let’s return to the present. As I write this article, the rolls of film are still being developed and scanned at another center (more than 14 days have passed). I was exciting to take the film to the store and leave it, wait for the chemical reaction to reveal my photos, turning them in digital using scanner, and finally then receive the results by email. But as I said unfortunately I’m still waiting. What I like is the whole process, my feelings and thoughts while I wait to see what I took in the streets. Currently I don’t know if I made mistakes, if the focus wasn’t right as well as the exposure and shuttering times. The curiosity to see what I’ve captured is really great, I think over it everyday. I’ve used also the flash a lot, with a compact camera like this small Yashica everything is included; I don’t have to attach any bulky external components (as an external flash). This has also encouraged me to use the flash much more when needed, unlike my Ricoh where I would have to attach an external one (which I ultimately never do).

Certainly, the ability to digitize everything (included film with scanner) maintaining an unique digital archive has strongly motivated me to try film photography instead of using only digital.

street photography with film

street photography with film

The most unexpected thing about this film compact camera is that it has pushed me far beyond my fears, often leading me to be noticed or even passively interact with people. Unlike the Ricoh, I have to frame my shots calmly through the viewfinder, avoiding quick movements. Sometimes I use the flash. But above all, this old camera is noisy, both when taking a photo and when rewinding automatically the film. Surprisingly, these unfavorable aspects have encouraged me to overcome my shyness a bit more while out on the streets. It’s been another unexpected gift that I initially considered a disadvantage.

street photography with film

street photography with film

street photography with film

My Yashica Mini-Tec is straightforward. It’s a simple and basic compact camera with shutter speeds that go up to a maximum of 1/250 seconds (not 1/700 as I read on different websites), not ideal for street photography unfortunately. The autofocus, although relatively quick, seems to be limited to a few points. The maximum aperture of diaphragm is f/3.5, and it has a 32mm lens (which is interesting as angle). The focusing distance is about 1.2-1.4 meters (don’t remember the exact one), not so good for street candid shots. However, the biggest drawback is the flash. It either fires automatically or when I manually select it.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely disable it unless I press the infinity focus button, but that’s not good for close-range street photography shots. This is the greatest problem of that camera in my opinion, especially in the streets. These limitations also happen to be my biggest fears when it comes to the photos I’ve taken considering the final result after development and scanning process. Despite any technical errors, I’m sure some of these pictures could turn out really good. As of now, I’ve shot a roll of film with 36 exposures Kodak Portra 400 in color and Ilford HP5 400 in black and white. These two are already in the development and scanning process. Additionally, I have “completed” another Kodak Porter 400 color, two more rolls of HP5 (36 exposures each) and other two are currently in progress.

street photography with film

As I said in a previous article digital will be my first choice in 90-95% of cases. I shoot a lot of pictures without thinking over it, using instinct. Analogue camera and film represent a different way to take pictures, maybe more meditative, less impulsive, the process takes more time and Film costs a lot of money (including also development and scanning). So essentially I shoot digitally but I’m starting to work also with film and I like a lot. It’s a good variation, a great inspiration and a different way to stay in the streets. Let’s keep in touch, I’ll update my blog with first results as soon as I can.



That’s all folks


 Stay well, have always light in your life

Best, F.S


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