Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Camera Photographer #22 – Mickaël André

1 First, a bit of background? As much or as little as you are comfortable sharing… Name, Where you are from, what you do, What else in life do you enjoy? that sort of thing?

My name is Mika, I’m from south of France, I have a half time job to pay the bills that allows me to spend a lot of time doing what I love the most, playing music with bands ! Music is my main focus since twenty years now, It’s also a good way to travel around and shoot !

2 How long have you been taking photos?

I began to shoot film around 2008 after reading an article about the pinhole day, I was so fascinated by the idea of taking pictures with nothing more than a box that I immediately tried and the results were so charming that I completely stuck with pinhole, I started with matches boxes then with a Kiev back with 120 film that died a few years ago, you can see it on the picture. And then I began to try some old camera found on the web, I was hooked.

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3 What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc)?

I think I’m always able to enjoy every kind of pictures I see if I take the time to understand where the photograph wants to go, but my attention goes often to moody black and white stuff, it could be portraiture, landscape, street or experimental, I think I’m quite receptive to strange and mysterious pictures.

4 Which is/are your favourite 35mmc compact/rangefinder cameras?

I think that the one I’ve used the most until then is a Minox 35 GT-E, even if I don’t always feel comfortable with the zone focusing, it’s compactness and the 1600 iso metering is a must for me, since I need the camera to be the most compact possible to be able to shoot every day, or every night I should say. Don’t know if it’s my favourite but it’s the one I used very often until the shutter began to fail from time to time.

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5 How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact cameras/rangefinders?

I only shoot compact or rangefinder so we can say that they’re everything !
I have never been at ease with a reflex, maybe because of the size, and depending on the mood, I’m still switching from the Minox to Canonet, Yashica Electro, sometimes the Ricoh GR1 or now and more often a Voigtlander Bessa R3A with the Rokkor-M 40 mm f:2. It’s also the film format I can easily develop and print in the dark(bath)room, printing is also a big part of the adventure !

6 What about the experience of shooting with these cameras appeals to you?

With all these cameras, it’s always about comfort to use, and the simplicity I need in a lot of things in life.
I have to feel that the camera isn’t something bothering to carry or to use, I use some digital sometimes for command work, but I never get this ultra sensitive feeling I get with these old cameras, and even if some have electronic shutters like the GR1 or the Minox, I feel the simplicity of dealing with ISO, shutter speed, focusing and aperture only. That’s kind of weird to admit now but I must say that the global philosophy of these compact cameras is a huge part in the fact that I’m able to shoot everyday. And thinking that some of them are 30 or 40 years old is always a weird thing, for me, I mean nothing of what we use in everyday life have been through 40 years of adventure serving people’s will for the worse and best, sometimes I think about it !

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7 How do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…?

I don’t know if I can speak about my « Style » but it sure has something with the raw look I like so much, this kind of camera fits my use, for example when I deal with zone focusing, it’s always easier to use small aperture, and since I’m shooting most often at night, I can use these long time shutter speeds I like so much. I was aiming at this kind of pictures, so I slowly defined what were my needs in terms of camera. And naturally for me, being able to take pictures at night without having to pull out a light meter out of a big bag already full of lenses and stuff is very pleasant.

8 What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much?

I think it’s all dealing with that compact format and their “built like a tank” feeling, particularly with cameras like Canonet, Olympus 35 RC and all these rangefinders from the 70’s.

9 What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you?

After some times spent with medium format pinhole, I discovered the pleasure of manipulating these beautiful piece of gear and shooting with them, then there is this particular moment of wait for the result, I really enjoy the whole process of developing the film and then spending hours in the darkroom to finish the image and give it the mood I’m looking for, the huge pleasure in using this kind of camera is very related to what’s next, all the darkroom process, taking time, thinking, expecting, accepting mistakes and finally keeping me away from the computer !

10 Show us your favourite/best images taken with a compact or rangefinder camera?

This picture moved me when I printed it for the first time, it has what I’m personally searching for. The childish representation of the house with the rooftop and windows is something I run after, in my pictures, I don’t know why yet…

Accidents and surprises are also very important to me in Photography and that « moon » on the picture was a kind of surprise, something very strong to me, that picture means something to me since day one. But again, I say that speaking for me !

This one was taken with a Chinon 35EE-II who died some months ago, I liked this one very much, the viewfinder was crystal-clear and the size was perfect for me. I need to find another one someday I guess…

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Here’s my website : www.whattomorrowknows.com

For the moment, I wanted it like an immersion more than the usual clicking photography site, maybe some of you will get the idea, and some won’t !

Thanks.

Mika

 

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3 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Geoff
    September 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Many years ago I had a very compact camera, the Zeiss Tenax with a Tessar lens, rapid wind with one finger and shutter release with another. It was called the Taxona later. East German made in the 1950s

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Mika
    September 22, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Hello Geoff, thanks for the suggestion, as I begin to look for that Zeiss Tenax, I see a Ikon Tenax II with quite weird features, like this 24×24 format that could be great to use, since I liked the square format at a time, think I should try this one !
    Thanks again !

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      I have a Taxona – in fact, I have had 3. All of them jam when winding film – I have no idea if the same is of the Tenax, but I would do the reading first

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