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France on Film: 35mm Travel Photography

France on Film: 35mm Travel Photography

Ever since I was little, I have loved to travel. I don’t mean the kind of travel that puts you in the back seat of a car with 3 other bored kids as your parents drive you to the holiday destination they booked up the coast. I mean the kind of travel that gets you out of your every day life. The kind of travel that allows you to see new things, learn new languages and experience new cultures and foods. Travelling for me is a bit of a way of life. I have a job that allows me to travel AND do what I love most. Photography. So, when I get to travel for work, that’s amazing. But what’s also exciting is travelling and photographing for myself. There are no rules, no deadlines, no stress. You can just go where you want and shoot what you want.

I’ve never really understood how people can go to amazing places and NOT take a camera. For me, given that I have a tendency to have a mind like a sieve, photography is the best way to relive my travels. I remember being absolutely gutted when I accidentally formatted a memory card from my travels to Egypt and losing hundreds of images I had specifically gone there to make. I also remember being gutted when I was robbed in Barcelona of everything except my passport. The money, the handbag, the blazer I had to keep warm… all gone… and that was fine, but my camera, with all the images from that weekend were also lost. And that hurt more than anything because now it feels like I never even went to Barcelona. I have zero visual reminders. I can’t look back and relive how amazing the weekend was. Thankfully, there are times when I have been spared some heartache about losing photos when I have also been smart enough to carry a 35mm camera and some Ilford HP 5 black and white film. In the case from Egypt, even though there was only a couple of roles, I still have some memories to look back on.

In July, and with this in mind, I decided to leave the digital camera at home and only shoot film. There’s something about 35mm Travel Photography that you just don’t get with digital. It feels more real. The images seem to have a bigger sense of nostalgia, both in their style and for the mood they instil. It’s almost like you’re tapping into the golden age of travel when you use 35mm film for travel photography. You are less inclined to shoot recklessly and creating images that no one really cares about. With film, you are forced to think more critically and ask yourself if you really, truly need that shot. What is it that compelled you to point your camera towards that bridge, beach, boat in the first place? Will anyone ever end up seeing it? Or will it sit on your hard-drive indefinitely?

I didn’t want to be weighed down with gear so I took with me just one lens and one camera body. A Canon 24-70mm L series and a Canon EOS 1V 35mm film camera. Armed with about 10 roles of film, a mix of black and white and colour negative film, I aimed to only shoot either a) that which I normally wouldn’t or b) something that would bring back those great memories later. I did end up running out of film and I didn’t use all the black and white film I took, but below is a selection of images from the first part of a 3 week road trip my Husband and I took through France, Spain and Portugal. The images here are all from France, before we headed into Spain and all films are 400 ISO, so there were times where it proved challenging without being able to change ISO or use extra gear like a flash or tripod. That actually made it even more valuable in terms of deciding if I really, truly wanted a shot. So waiting for 30 minutes at the top of a huge dune in order to get the minimum amount of people in my frame became they way to do things rather than shooting off craploads of frames and picking the best one later in Photoshop to retouch. (Much to the frustration of my Husband. hahaha)

The idea for this trip came about one evening when we were sitting in a restaurant in Stockholm, realising we hadn’t planned a holiday. We decided we didn’t want to go somewhere we had already been. But we also wanted the warm weather and great food that somewhere like France could bring. We’d been to France a lot, so I wasn’t as keen on going back. Out came google maps and we both fell in love with the idea of seeing Le Mont Saint Michel. That sewed the seed for the beginning of a wonderful road trip which took us into Normandy and Brittany to see the D-Day beaches and the famous island commune, into Bordeaux where we sampled some fantastic wines in Saint Emillion and then down into Biarritz!

I’ll be sharing more from this road trip soon so do stay tuned. If you’re also into film or are interested in beginning, which of the two films I’ve used below do you prefer? The Kodak Portra 400 or the Fuji 400H? Have any questions for me about the images you see or how I shoot with film? Pop me a message in the comments section or shoot me an email. I’d be glad to chat.

35mm Travel Photography

Brittany, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Brittany, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Normany, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Normandy, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Le Mont Saint Michel, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Bordeaux, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Bordeaux, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Saint Emilion, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Saint Emilion, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Saint Emilion, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Saint Emilion, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Dune de Pilat, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Dune de Pilat, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Dune de Pilat, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Dune de Pilat, France Photographed with Fuji 400H 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

35mm Travel Photography

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

Biarritz, France Photographed with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film

 

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  • Liz - August 24, 2015 - 13:51

    I like both films, and the different feelings they convey. I was just talking with another photographer over the weekend and we were talking about shooting with film, and how people will spend hours (or money) on filters to get their digital photos to look like film photos, when the obvious (at least to us) solution was to just shoot with film! 🙂 Beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 24, 2015 - 13:56

      Hi Liz. I like both as well and I love that they each have their strengths depending on what you’re shooting. I totally agree about just shooting film, though. I think some of those filters and plugins are quite good but you can still see it’s not exactly the same as if it was actually film. Thanks for the compliment. I’d love to see some of your work! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Irene - August 24, 2015 - 18:52

    Wow….France is absolutely amazing. Such beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 25, 2015 - 08:21

      Thanks, Irene. There’s just something about France that keeps me going back.ReplyCancel

  • Valentina - August 24, 2015 - 21:15

    Nice photos! I think especially after a nice travel it’s a great emotion going home a see what you captured! The waiting was also part of the film experience 🙂ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 25, 2015 - 08:22

      Yes! The waiting is half the fun!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Weeks - August 25, 2015 - 02:36

    Beautiful pictures. Love the dreamy film look.ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 25, 2015 - 08:22

      Thank you. You just can’t get that dreamy film look if it’s no film, I think. 🙂ReplyCancel

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