I haven’t used a 35mm film camera for about 15 years and what a mistake that was. Through my teens and then twenties it was my Nikon FM2 with a 50mm 1.4 that helped me become the documentary filmmaker that I am today. Dealing with people, getting permission to take their picture, finding stories, learning all the basics – framing, lighting, patience, timing and being nice – all skills I still use everyday and it was that little tank of a camera that started me off on the right path.
Why did I give it up? Digital and my love of moving image. DVtape, PD150s, Canon XL1s, lens adaptors, DSLRS, ENG cameras. Everywhere I looked, there were new shiny things. The world’s also a busy place – who’s got time to take 36 shots and send them off to the lab or develop them at home? Bad attitude but that was the case.
An artist I admire once told me, “you get to this point where you just need to break your style down and rebuild it” and that’s where I am today. Years of long shoots and client work effects you and sometimes your own palette and tastes get muddied. Between regularly moving countries and taking on different jobs and not really being able to focus on my own style, it felt the best course of action creatively was to start right back at the beginning. This time with a Nikon FE2, a 50mm Series E lens, (not my choice but its what was about) a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus and a roll of Lomography Lady Grey 400. With the streets of Seattle my current home I went off to do some street portraiture.
All the pictures here were taken during the course of a week, and what a revelation. Focusing was always quite natural for me and that felt good, but I had to work at it a bit more. The stripped down nature of the Nikon was a breath of fresh air and I just had to concentrate on what I wanted to get. People reacted well to the camera. With digital there’s the compulsion to share the picture with the subject, but it’s not possible with 35mm film and I’m much happier about it. That element of trust between myself, camera and subject was allowed to exist and it makes for a better moment. This I’ll also be taking back into client world where everyone loves to surround you and give you their bit of creative input as you take hundreds of shots in seconds.
The results could have been a lot better, but I’m still very happy. I’m now searching for a style and vibe I felt I used to have, but now I want it refined, better and more consistent. It all feels attainable but I know it’s not going to be easy.
Instagram > @shazdirector / @bombstagram
My Site > http://www.shazdirector.com
Commercial > http://thesrk.com
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7 thoughts on “5 Frames rediscovering film with a Nikon FE2 – By Shaz”
Finding Ones Vision.
Finding ones own vision and style is similar to an author finding their own voice. It takes much time and practice. You reach quality through quantity. The harder you seek it, the more elusive it becomes. It will find you. In photography, shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, and it will find you.
Spirit Vision Photography
Thanks Russ! I feel it’s all moving in the right direction now – and I agree – the more I seek, the harder it becomes – im learning to be much more in the moment!
Well done! Congratulations on going back to your roots. That 50mm E lens looks like it performs perfectly well. I love those impromptu portraits.
It’s a great lens. It performs so well and i’m quickly very proud of it.
The pic of the bearded dood is great. So much going on in the eyes.
2nd image, guy with beard, is strong. Crop just under that sign (hate to lose any of his hair) but simple is better as that sign edge is white, which draws the eye and it’s in focus. Without it, you have a great environmental portrait with good natural separation from the background.
Hey cool read and I couldn‘t agree more! I just bought a Nikon FE with the Nikkor 50/f1.4 attached. Talking lenses, is the E Series bad? Fir me, hobby Photographer only for my own enjoyment, I rate weight, size quite as much as performance, talking about my lense and the standard E Series 50mm 1.8, (big as a pancake lense and quite leight weight, I was thinking of buying one and use it instead of the bigger and heavier Nikkor 50/1.4…even though I would down grade my gear….anybody gad similar thoughts?
Thanks for your feedback!
Cheers from Switzerland