My name is Tommaso Avati and I am a fiction writer (novels and screenplays sometimes). Writing is my life, I really enjoy it and there is nothing comparable to the pleasure that gives to you composing a nice and well constructed story. Photography though is my hobby, what I do when I want to “unplug” my mind from work. And it is curious how both activities are somehow similar. Both need composition, both require a watchful and concentrated eye, both (in most cases) have to do with human beings. Similarities may go on maybe, but what I am really interested in here is telling you how I got into film photography.
When I was a very young guy, digital photography was still a dream, and if you, like me, wanted to keep some visual memory of the important moments of your existence there was no other choice than film. When digital got into our lives I saw all my dreams come true because photography finally became easier, cheaper, quicker, and under some aspects even better than film!
I spent the following 20 years experiencing and then getting into all the photography systems out there! Like many of you I guess, I tried Micro Four Thirds, Olympus, Panasonic, and then went to the 1.6 crop factor from Fujifilm ending up with those amazing full frame sensors from Sony. But that was not actually an end. It was just the beginning indeed because I felt that there was something missing in my creative process. So I gathered some courage, sold all my stuff to buy my first Leica camera (M9), and I thought I finally got to heaven again, and for good.
Shooting with a Leica was the best experience I could imagine. The camera is so essential and the controls are so few and the rangefinder focusing requires so much attention and commitment that I fell in love with all of it. Taking pictures had never been so fun and creative. The Leica M system was so cool for one very simple and obvious reason: it refused all of the quirts and whips that the other digital cameras kept adopting one over the other. Leica focuses only on what matters. I thought I had found my system! But I was wrong, it wasn’t enough yet, I had to go forward and if you really want to go forward sometimes you need to move backward: to film photography. I started searching the web for M mount film camera brands and found the Voigtlander Bessa R3A which costs reasonably less than Leica but delivers a great shooting experience.
These shots where all taken with Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Portra 800 and TTartisans 50mm f/0.95. I shot them here in the heart of Rome which is where I live. I used to shoot with a 35mm lens, which is my favourite FOV and I love it, but doing street photography here in Rome has got pretty tricky lately as people have become somehow a bit suspicious. So, a 50mm, even if heavier and bigger than the unobtrusive Nokton 35mm, grants me more distance from the subject and does the trick. I am sorry for the quality of these file, I am still new to film photography and I have no proper scanner yet, so I used an old HP multifunction printer with a flat (kind of) scanner to acquire these shots.
I love my Bessa R3A now and I definitely adore film. I still shoot digital, actually more than film as it is so much cheaper but when I have some rolls to load into my beloved film camera I am really happy, I feel excited just like something magic is going to happen. And do you know why? Because shooting film means no crazy global shutter, no 5 axis stabilizer, no multi direction articulated display, and if you don’t have any display at all you cannot check your shot as soon as you take it, in fact you have to imagine that picture that you have just taken. And the pictures that you can imagine, just like the stories before you write them, are the best they could possibly be.
If you kind of like my shots, you can find me on Instagram