Interview with ERIC LEFFLER, USA
Shooting film is simply fun, and there is often no better motivator for me than that.
Please tell us something about yourself and how you got into film photography?
Eric: I have been a full-time wedding and portrait photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 7 years. My first experience with film was traveling abroad after college with a Minolta X-700 given to me by my uncle. After many years shooting digital, I have now returned to film for some of my paid work and most of my personal work (mostly portraits and travel).
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Eric: I have tried many film cameras and film stocks over the past two years in a search to find what I love the most. I keep returning to the Leica M6 and Nikon FE2. For me, there is nothing that provides the same level of joy as holding and using a Leica M camera, and the results are wonderful. I prefer the Nikon FE2 or FM3A when I want something more automated and fast: so simple to use, beautifully made, good for double exposures, great lens options, and just total work horses.
I mix it up with Kodak color films and Ilford HP5 usually for BW. Kodak Gold 200 is probably what I have shot the most of. I also love my Pentax 6x7 and Rolleiflex 3.5E for medium format work.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Eric: For me a lot of things. For one, a lot of older great cameras that are a joy to use. I like how film makes me shoot, and why it makes me shoot. I shoot mostly digital for my paid work (mostly weddings) and so I like the balance film provides me in my personal work, forcing me to slow things down and value each frame in a much different way.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Eric: I have never printed my own work and have only printed a small percentage of my work with a lab, but so far but have fallen in love with the results, especially on fine art cotton rag papers like Hanhnemuhle. Very painterly. I look forward to printing more in the future.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Eric: Film motivates me in many ways, many of which I think are shared by most of us who shoot film: the look and feel of the final results, the slower more deliberate process one embraces in using and shooting film, the joy of using older mechanical cameras, the rush of the delayed gratification, and the simple, pure passion for the art of photography. On top of all this, shooting film is simply fun, and there is often no better motivator for me than that.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Eric: Thanks to the growing film community on platforms like Instagram, I am inspired by new people daily. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words on the Decisive Moment (youtube this) is perhaps the most beautiful collection of thoughts on the art and approach to photography I have ever heard.
In my return to film in 2014, the videos by the Framed Network and Long Live Film (both on youtube) was also a huge influence and motivation for me.
Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?
Eric: I think these are the same as those factors above that motivate me to shoot it.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Eric: I see myself shooting it for my most meaningful work the rest of my life. I love it that much.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Eric: I’m not sure I have a dream project but I do have a number of personal side projects and goals which motivate me and I think are important for everyone to have. I would love to get better at approaching strangers for portraits. I would also love to shoot more weddings entirely on film. That would be a dream job.
Would you like to offer a few words of wisdom to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Eric: I would encourage it whole-heartedly. It will be natural to be intimidated by the process at first, but realize that most of today’s modern digital cameras are designed after and work just the same as the older film cameras. Especially cameras with an internal meter and Aperture-Priority mode like the Nikon FE2 and countless others. They all come down to film speed, aperture, shutter speed. You already know how to shoot it. Just embrace and trust the process, follow your vision, and the rewards will follow.
Using a good lab can go a long way as well. I use Indie Film Lab for all my developing and scanning and they are fantastic. I would love to do my own developing someday but right now I am joying the extra time to chase light and create art that using a good lab provides me.
Drop by Eric's website as well as his Instagram folio, and check all his impressive photographs posted there.
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Well now, if you are a passionate film photographer and would like to be interviewed? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, "Interview me", and share your story, thoughts, and work related to film photography. I’ll get back to you as soon as I receive your request for an interview.
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