How To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film Camera

7 May 2021

When we travel, our instinct is to bring a modern digital camera so we can store a huge number of photos and videos on our memory cards. While these cameras have made it easy to capture every moment of your trip from every angle, there’s something special about travelling with a film camera. Film has a timeliness aesthetic that a filter can’t quite replicate.

We partnered with our friends at SafariFRANK to show you how you can level up your travel photos with a film camera.

Why should you use a film camera for travel photos?

Have you ever applied a retro filter to your travel photos on Instagram? That’s one way to replicate the amazing look of film! This style of photography is nostalgic, charming and easily recognisable, with its vivid colours, grainy texture and occasional flare. Instead of relying on filters and editing to give your holiday photos a vintage feel, you can shoot with a film camera. As well as ending up with unique images, these are the benefits of film:

  • It encourages you to be more creative at every step. Before you even head out the door, you have to choose a film stock to load to your camera. This will determine whether your images come out in colour or black and white, and whether your film will work best in bright or dark conditions. Once you've made this decision, you’ll need to stick with it until you've finished the roll of film. This will lead you to play around with new techniques and skills and become a more accomplished photographer.
  • It helps you to slow down. When you’re travelling, you want to balance living in the moment with documenting your memories. A film camera can help you do that! A standard roll of 35mm film can capture 24 or 36 shots, so you won’t be able to fire off hundreds of versions of the same photo like you can do on a digital camera or smartphone. Most photographers like this photo limit, as it forces them to fine tune their composition and camera settings before they fire. In other words, using a film camera makes them more intentional in their work. They not only save precious shots on their roll of film, but they have more time to enjoy the scene in front of them “in real life.”
How To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film CameraHow To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film Camera
  • It boosts your photography skills. A film camera’s beauty lies in its simplicity. They’re easy to use, but they have less bells and whistles, and you can’t “clean up” your photos to the same extent in post-production or editing. Because of that, you want to capture your creative travel photos right the first time. As a result, shooting with film means you’ll hone your skills in composition, framing and lighting.

What’s the best travel film camera?

How To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film CameraHow To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film Camera

If you’re sold on the idea of packing a travel film camera for your next trip, there are a few options to choose from.

For beginners, a point-and-shoot film camera is perfect for taking baby steps and getting the hang of film. All you need to do is load your film, frame your subject or scene, and literally point and shoot! When your roll of film is finished, drop it off at a lab or a Ted’s Cameras store with a print service for processing and you’ll be able to flick through your vintage travel photos in a few days.

You can buy a disposable camera, which is single-use, or a reusable camera. These are just as simple to use, but can be loaded with fresh film time and time again. If you want to make creative choices with your film, but don’t want to fiddle around with manual controls, these budget-friendly beginner film cameras are the best bet.

Ted’s top picks: The Agfa Le Box Flash Single Use Camera - 27 Exposure is a sturdy disposable camera that will take you back to your childhood, and you can toss it away once you’ve handed your film over to the lab. If you want to use the same camera for your entire trip and beyond, the Ilford Sprite 35 II Flash Reusable Camera w/ Bonus Ilford XP2 Film is a great choice.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a film camera for travel that allows you to adjust manual settings, change lenses and add accessories, you may want to step it up and go for a camera with advanced functions. You can scour the second-hand camera market for a film SLR or medium-format camera from that era, and snap the sharpest and most detailed film photos. Just know that since these cameras are pre-owned and older, you’ll want to purchase one from a dealer that offers some sort of warranty.

Ted’s top pick: The Agfa Retro 35mm Camera w/Flash - Black/Silver is the best 35mm film camera for travel. It works with both B&W and colour film, and has a built-in flash and a fixed focal length that will allow you to squeeze a lot of scenery into your frame.

How to add the film aesthetic to your digital photos

If you like the vintage look of film but don’t fancy buying a film camera, that’s okay, too. You can experiment with ways to mimic the film effect in your digital photography.

As for how to make your photos look vintage, the easiest option is to add a filter to your shot when you upload it. Chances are, the platform you’re using to share your holiday photos has readymade filters. For example, Instagram has a range of retro-inspired filters that can give your images a grainy, gritty texture.

Otherwise, you can harness your editing skills with the help of a software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. We suggest doing this as the last step in your post-processing. Along with dialing up the grain in your photos, you can play around with colour saturation and contrast or add a classic lens flare. Compare your shots with the works of your favourite film photographers to see how you did!

How To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film CameraHow To Take Vintage Travel Photos With a Film Camera

Pick up a roll of film for your camera

Add a creative flair to your travel photos

The best thing about coming home after a holiday is flicking through your travel photos and reliving all the memories. When you shoot with film, you’ll be left with beautiful, retro-inspired images that will always be in style.

To try film for yourself, head to your local Ted’s Cameras store or shop the best travel film cameras online. And if you’re dreaming of going on an African safari, our friends at SafariFRANK can help you plan your trip!

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