Interview with JEAN-MARIE FRANCESCHI, FRANCE
Updated: Oct 13, 2017
Do not shoot with film because it sounds cool. Shoot with it if it makes sense to you.
Jean-Marie, mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Jean-Marie: My name is Jean-Marie, I’m a 28 years old french photographer from Marseille in the south of France. I started photography in 2008 and I was shooting various things, playing with the camera. It’s only in 2014 that I decided to focus on people only and eventually got more oriented into fashion culture and aesthetics. I grabbed my first 35mm film camera quite early to make some street photographs and really liked the results and the process.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Jean-Marie: I shoot a lot of black and white film. I started with a lot of Tri-X but I tend more and more towards HP5 now. They are pretty close but I feel more comfortable with ILFORD film, the grain is more discrete and subtle, it holds better details in the shadows and has very smooth tonal gradation and it is also cheaper! I would like to test other films like PanF 50 on special occasions. I think it’s important to use as little different films at a time to really get used to them and better foresee the results during shootings.
I mostly shoot on a Pentax 67 because 67 is my favorite format. I love the ratio and the cleanliness of the negatives even when pushed to 1600 ISO.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Jean-Marie: Technically, digital has come a long way now and, in most cases, is 'better' than film. But better for recording 'reality' . Photography is an art and if all we did was recording reality it would be pretty boring, right? Giving our vision of what we see though chemical reactions sounds pretty exciting to me, this is also how the human body works after all. I do not shoot film for the 'vintage' vibe nor I listen to vinyls for hearings cracks and small annoying noises along with the music. What I like is the process of really sculpting an image. When I know I have only 10 images per roll, I’m more keen on focusing on what I’m doing and actually looking at the image before I capture it. I think concentration is everything and with no menus, nor LCD screens, it’s a lot easier to achieve that.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Jean-Marie: I do not print my own photos. I have them printed digitally for now (I do the scans). I think the gear and the additional time needed for that would be difficult to handle. But I would like to have some of my favorite photos be printed in the darkroom some day.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Jean-Marie: I’m still discovering the benefits of it so I’m still pretty excited about what it could still give to me. I also want to become more proficient in color photography, and I think film is just the right place for that.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Jean-Marie: There's plenty of them. Since I’m still a baby in fashion and portrait photography, my tastes change really quickly and I discover a lot of new great photographers everyday. But I already understand the need of 'killing the masters' to quickly get a strong personal style, and that road is a long one. I cannot say that any particular photographer made me want to use film. I am inspired by their ideas and concepts, not their gear decisions.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Jean-Marie: Not really, I shoot film almost the exact same way I shoot digital. For me, it’s just a tool choice. Once you know how to use them, you can be confident about the results.
Like every other gear choices in photography there are advantages, drawbacks and compromises. We have to make these choices consciously and we should not expect to get recognized just for shooting with older tech.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Jean-Marie: I imagine I will keep on shooting film for my personal work. I like the constraints. One body, one lens, one film. No menus, no LCD, no Wifi, no GPS. Only one rendering and what’s in front of you. It helps me to stay focused.
I will still keep a digital kit for certain assignments though.
What’s your dream photography project?
Jean-Marie: I would love to make great fashion editorials with color film in a near future. I love the way film renders color. I would also like to start a street photography project.
Would you like to offer some good words to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Jean-Marie: Film photography is really easier that it seems. It is also very fun to get access to top notch gear for cheap prices. Nowadays you can use the same cameras as the masters from the past for 10% of the price of new fancy pro DSLRs. Go on eBay buy a classic Japanese reflex camera from the 70s (Olympus, Pentax, Minolta) they go for 30$! Try one and see if that’s for you. I think knowing how to shoot digital manually is a good place to start before venturing into film cameras, but a lot of them can meter the light pretty well too!
Cheers for imparting your observation with us, Jean-Marie. You have an excellent set of photographs as well.
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