Traveling with Film

Salut! I’ve recently returned from another trip to Paris (does that make me sound worldly or pretentious? Either way I don’t care, because #lifelongdreamscomingtrue) and while I’ve got thousands of digital images to continue editing, my film scans are back!

traveling with film paris

I recently got into shooting on film while traveling thanks to my good friend and fellow photog, Krysta Norman. I traveled with her to Italy last year to second shoot a wedding, and as we toured around Paris, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome together, she would often wander with only her film camera.

Isn’t that risky, I’d think, realizing you could mess up an entire roll and have nothing to show for your trip? I’d experimented on film before with an old manual focus/manual metering vintage camera, but I’d also reproduced the shot on digital afterward. But she shared her film scans with me and they were killer. Softer focus, a little grain for a vintage appeal, and almost a documentarian feel to them.

So I got myself a more modern film SLR (thanks, Garrett!) and tried it myself on my recent trips to Ecuador and Paris. And then I fell in love.

traveling with film paristraveling with film paris

I’m not a regular tourist, I’m a cool tourist.

There’s a sort of je ne sais quoi about shooting film in a digital era. Walking around a city with only my film camera makes me feel as though somehow, I will be taken more seriously than everyone else taking their digital or iPhone snapshots. I’m willing to carefully compose each shot and consider the outcome before hitting that shutter button, because I’ve only got 36 exposures to work with. Sometimes I would frame a shot, wait for the right moment, and when it never came, I would move on. C’est la vie.
traveling with film ecuadortraveling with film paristraveling with film paris
It’s like I’m not a regular tourist, I’m a cool tourist, because I’m taking my photography ~*seriously*~ right now. This is all mental, of course, because the average person on the street isn’t going to realize I’m shooting on film vs a digital sensor. They’re looking at me like they look at every other camera-wielding tourist. No, this confidence comes from within.

Shooting with film also makes me feel more brave, like I’m a documentarian or something.  I’ll take more photos of people, even getting a little closer than I usually feel comfortable with digital. It’s this sort of magical confidence and bravery that makes me love taking film along on my travels.

traveling with film ecuadortraveling with film paris

My future with film?

I have no intentions of bringing film photography into my professional work; I love that it’s something I can do as a personal project while traveling. The outcome is a raw look inside the way I see a place when I’m exploring – what do I find truly interesting or meaningful enough to document on film, vs. what’s temporarily interesting enough to snap with my phone for an IG story?

If you’ve used film while traveling, tell me more! What are your favorite film stocks to travel with? What are your preferred settings to photograph on? I’d love to know!

traveling with film paristraveling with film paris

Camera: Canon Rebel 2000 35mm
Film: Kodak Portra 400; Kodak Portra 160
Lab: The Find Lab

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  1. Rachel Rice

    April 27th, 2018 at 11:18 am

    D-U-H-R-E-A-M-Y

    As someone who is a complete when it comes to photography, there is definitely just SOMETHING about film that is so ethereal and beautiful. The fact that it is a single, fleeting moment that is either captured or missed and the specific timing of it all makes it that much more magical. I LOVE these shots!!

  2. Krysta Norman

    April 27th, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! It definitely makes a difference while you travel. A way to feel invisible and also a chance to truly stay in the moment and decide if what you want to photograph is really worth it. These are really beautiful and I seriously look forward to your Parisian inspired coffee table book in the future!

  3. Brett

    April 27th, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I love this concept with travel photography! I used to spend SO MUCH TIME with my eyes behind a camera on vacation that I was putting far too much time into taking EVERY PICTURE possible and not enjoying my moments. These days, I’m so much more selective on when I’ll bring my camera and even take it out of the bag! While I still shoot digital – I may need to start dipping my toes back into the film pond to really do it right 😉

  4. Amber Patty

    May 23rd, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    These are gorgeous!! <3

  5. Dana Ball

    June 24th, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    OH, this makes me want to shoot film again. I love how you explained film’s place in your travel photography.

  6. Nicole Sanchez

    July 16th, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    These are so vibrant and beautiful! I so want to try film someday!

  7. brandy

    October 3rd, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    You’re very brave and it was worth it! Beautiful images. I should dust off my film camera…

  8. Meredith

    January 16th, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    These are gorgeous! I love Paris!!