James L

James L - July 2024


James is in his early twenties, although he says: " I have a bit of a baby face and commonly get told I look about 12". *(1)

"I don’t really take a lot of photos of myself nor do I really get many people to take photos of me (ironically I’m a tiny bit camera shy!). This is a photo I got of myself and my partner before going out to dinner in Florence when we visited in April. This was taken on some 'Boots' slide film (yes 'Boots' the pharmacy of all places!)  that expired in 2009 (hence the slight magenta shift)" 

Where are you from originally?

"I’m from the midlands originally but I grew up on the North Norfolk Coast."

Which cameras have you used, and how you rate them?

"I’ve used so many cameras it’s difficult to know where to start! I’ve been something of a hoarder the last few years (I prefer collector really but that's not how my partner sees it). I recently obtained a Mamiya 645 1000s (a dream camera of mine) which as of the time of writing this I have not yet had the opportunity to take out and use, I am very excited though. I’ll list off a few notable examples from my ever growing collection below

-       Chinon CX - this was my first ever fully manual film camera. I got it in a charity shop on Ecclesall Road for crazy cheap and I have put so many rolls through this thing. It's very solid and reliable as well as very pretty. It was instrumental in teaching me how to actually take decent photos instead of just pratting about with disposables. 8/10

-       Yashica Mat - For a long time I was desperate to get into medium format without going bankrupt and after playing around with many cheaper  TLRs I finally got my hands on a Yashica. It's great. It's light and feels very well built. The lens is just so sharp, even when wide open at f3.5 and because of its copal leaf shutter and twin lens design you can shoot it at some insanely slow shutter speeds without getting any motion blur! I once used mine in a dark music studio shooting at 1/30 and even 1/15 without a tripod and got some of the best photos I’ve ever taken! 9/10

Nikon FE - I got this one from 'Facebook Marketplace' in a very sorry state. I ended up spending a long time cleaning it up and replacing various parts. It is now my travel camera as it's so light and quick to use with its aperture priority mode. 9/10"

Image 1


"I took this photo very recently using my Yashica Mat and a pair of close focus auxiliary lenses that I got from ebay. TLRs usually only focus up to just under a meter away at the closest but with these auxiliary lenses you can get twice as close. They're not easy to use as you sort of have to set the focus dial on the camera to infinity and then focus by physically moving yourself and the camera to the right focusing distance. It also makes the depth of field very very shallow. I'm very proud of how this turned out, I really like the high level of detail with the saturated colours and the very shallow depth of field."

Image 2


"This is a very fun one to talk about. I found these abandoned Citroen 2CVs whilst out in the Peak District. I had my Nikon FE loaded with an expired roll of Lomography Lomochrome Purple. The Lomo Purple renders the green ivy a crazy purple colour but still retains the green, white and red of the car, creating an almost psychedelic image that looks like it was edited. I had a fun time that day and this photo reminds me of that." *(2)

James, how did your childhood influence your photography?

"To be perfectly honest I wasn’t hugely big on photography as a child. My parents did get me a digi-cam when I was 10 which I managed to drop many times. My photographic journey began when I started university in 2019. My partner (pictured above) persuaded me into, very unwillingly, buying a few disposable cameras. We didn’t see the photos on those cameras for many months as we went into lockdown the week we sent them off. As soon as we got them back I was immediately hooked, and I’ve been on a downward spiral of analogue debauchery ever since. Another inspiration I suppose I could note is looking through my parents photo albums from their time at uni and their travels. I have always wanted my photos to invoke the same feelings I get looking through those albums."

Image 3


"This photo was a very spur of the moment image taken very early in the morning at a friend’s house. I used my 'Seagull' TLR (which I’ve since sold on) and a roll of Ilford HP5+. It's another very minimalist image and it has a sort of Stanley Kubrick long corridor shot feel to it ('The Shining' maybe?). The house that I took this in is a very quaint cottage in the middle of a big National Trust park on the coast - it's gorgeous and I always love visiting."

Any funny facts/experiences whilst taking your photos?

"I’ve had many strange encounters whilst out taking photos. One thing I always find with film cameras is that they are a great conversation starter and they seem to immediately disarm people, which I always think is very cool. My thirst for cameras has led me to some strange places to meet people from 'Facebook Marketplace'. Once I met a guy in a car park to buy a 'Soviet Zenit Photosniper'. We must have looked very dodgy as there was a group of people watching from a tram stop as I pulled this giant grenade-launcher-looking camera out of a metal box in the boot of this man’s car! It was like something from a James Bond film."

Image 4


"This is another photo taken with my Yashica Mat. I tried to imitate the sort of bright saturated colours and bold leading lines seen in the pop art style paintings of the 1960s. For this style the square format of 6x6 really lends itself, the symmetry is quite visually pleasing. The dynamic range of Kodak Gold really holds up well in this image. I don’t usually do much editing of my film photos when they’ve been scanned to digital but with this one I did bump the saturation slightly just to give the yellow and reds of the petrol station roof and the blue sky a bit of an extra pop."

Your prediction for the future and longevity of film use?

"I think that film is headed for a similar destiny to vinyl records. It will always exist in one form or another and there will always be a demand for it. Its heyday is definitely over but I think the resurgence we’ve seen for the last few years will continue until it settles in its own niche long term. It’ll never be like it was but its not going anywhere. A lot of aerial photography specialists still use film (kodak aerocolor in particular) because the cost of switching to digital and still getting the same sharpness and resolution is so cripplingly expensive it's far easier to just stick with good old film"

Image 5


"This was taken at my Nanny’s house back home in Norfolk during a sunny evening in December. I shot it with my Nikon F2 on Harman 'Phoenix' 200 ISO film. I remember being very excited by this image and this roll in general as Harman had only just come out with this new film and I had gotten this roll on release day so it was all very new and intriguing. Overall I can’t say I’m a giant fan of 'Phoenix' but all its quirks such as grain, halation, narrow dynamic range and heavy saturation really come together to create a very moody scene that I’m very happy I managed to capture." *(3)

Image 6


"I am very pleased with how this one came out. My band *(7) spent a whole weekend in a studio recording a song we had written and I decided to bring a few cameras along. I took this one with my Yashica Mat and some Ilford Delta 3200 film. The studio was very dark as one of the lights had broken so even with an ISO 3200 film I was still shooting wide open and at a very slow shutter speed. The subject of the photo is our keyboard player and I think it makes him look like he’s on a Billy Joel album cover."

James, relating to film camera users, what do you think Sheffield is missing?

"The hole that has been left by the loss of 'Peak Imaging' cannot be understated! *(5)

It would be fantastic to have another lab in the city or nearby that can cater easily to E6 and more niche developing needs without having to post it off and wait for weeks! Aside from that it would be great to have some form of community lab for the local film community to use to develop, scan and print themselves and get more people involved!"

Image 7


"This one was taken on 'Boots' Colour Slide film. This roll was less expired so doesn't feature the same dramatic colour shift. The narrow dynamic range makes it look almost spooky. This was another very spur of the moment photo. The slide film produces these very vivid colours that always have a very retro feel to them which I adore."

 What is good about Sheffield for you?

"What attracted me to sheffield in the first place is that I really think it caters to everyone - there’s something here that could appeal to anyone and any interests. It’s not too big (I’m a country bumpkin at heart) but not too small. There’s always something cool going on and the Peaks are so close by!"

Image 8


"This one is a very elegant one of my girlfriends tattoos. I don’t usually do many artsy style portraits of people and this was an attempt at capturing her in that way. I used my Nikon Zoom 310 and Ilford HP5+. I’m trying to improve my portraits of people and in particular my girlfriend. I’m not always the best at directing but this photo was a very spontaneous moment with a point and shoot. I really feel like I captured my girlfriend's elegance in this photo, I wanted to show her how I see her. The room was quite dark when I took this photo and I’m very glad that I managed to capture it without using flash as I think flash would have spoilt the mood of this image." *(8)

James - What is your favourite film camera?

"My favourite film camera is definitely my black Nikon F2. It was a graduation present from my dad and my step-mum. The lightmeter doesn’t work and its well used so it has this gorgeous brassing. It’s reliable as a brick and is as solid as one as well. It takes great photos (Nikon lenses are just the best) and it just feels incredible to hold and use. I’ve not had it as long as my other cameras but it has very quickly become my “ride or die”.

Image 9


"This photo is of the Chollerford Bridge in Northumberland. I was doing the Carlisle to Newcastle walk following Hadrian’s Wall with my mum and brother. It was a fantastic experience and this image means a lot to me because it really captures the feeling of that time. I used my Pentax Zoom 105 Super and a roll of very very expired Kodak Gold. The expiration of the film adds a lot of grain to the image, which in this scenario I really like. Also, the camera I used to take this photo broke a few days later on the penultimate day of the trip. I’m still upset about it almost a year later."

And music of choice?

"That's a tricky one. I listen to a lot of music, I won't lie. I've never been devoted to one particular artist or genre. Right now I’m very into an artist called Susannah Joffe. I’m also in a band" *(7).

Image 10


"I took this one last year. I was using my Seagull TLR and a roll of Kodak Vision 3 500T in 120 format. I was really excited to shoot this film as it was respooled 'IMAX' movie film. It was, however, a complete disaster. My Seagull suffered some catastrophic winding failure and I only got 5 exposures when there should have been 12! I was mortified. To this day I don't know what happened. I think it might have been due to an issue with the thickness of the film as apparently 'IMAX' film is a little thicker than regular 120 film. Anyway, I tried really hard with the exposure and composition on this one and I think I nailed it, I’ve not done much night-time photography before. The composition kind of reminds me of the album cover of an American Football album so maybe that was an indirect inspiration. This photo serves as a reminder that film can be very punishing and unforgiving at times, but the rewards can be just as great."

Your favourite local eat out place?

"'Pina' in Kelham island is a solid favourite. The drinks are fantastic and the food is great (although I did work there at one point so I am biased!)"

Favourite films?

"My favourite all time film stock for colour is definitely Kodak Gold. I just love the warm tones and colour rendering it can produce. I mostly shoot random expired film stocks that I acquire from facebook marketplace and ebay. A favourite from those is several rolls of Boots colour slide film which from my research online I believe is repackaged Fujfilm Sensia 200. I’m down to my last roll now and I’m very sad that I’m almost out as it produces incredibly sharp, fine grain images with fantastically saturated reds and greens. …wait did you mean ‘film’ or ‘film’?" *(4)

How do you share your photos? Photo album? Online?

"A little bit of each of the above to be honest. I have several photo albums, although those have slowed in recent years as prints are very expensive and take up a lot more space! I always make sure to keep the negatives from all the film I shoot and in fact I have a box containing the negatives from all the film I’ve ever shot, including disposables! I plan on archiving them properly at some point and organising them chronologically in a binder or something similar. I also do the obligatory posting of them online, both on my personal instagram and my photography account." *(6) 

Shall I share any social media links to you so people can see more of your images?

"Sure! I’m not crazy about social media but my  photography account on instagram is coleslawes.snaps. It's where I post some of my favorite photos or ones I am very proud of. The instagram for my band is 9.out.of.10.dentists if you’re interested!"



 *(1) Jen: What a great problem to have! Jealous lol. Having said that, the downside is that you will probably still be asked to show proof of age I.D in shops to buy alcohol etc when you are in your forties!

*(2) Jen: Awesome colours. Love it love it!

*(3) Jen: This is so atmospheric, and James has captured the mood beautifully.

*(4) Jen: I've asked people about their favourite analogue films, and cinema film favourites in the past, so guess I didn't word the question very well oops lol sorry!  

*(5) Jen: Yeah, 'Peak Imaging' closed very suddenly and unexpectedly, without warning even us - leaving the shop up s..t creek for a few weeks grrr. However we now use 'A.G' lab in Birmingham to develop our films, who've proved to be more reliable- although the service takes longer than 'Peak' did.

*(6) Super impressed that you value your negatives so much - we have hundreds of abandoned negs in the shop from customers who have scans only and never collect their negs. It's a CRIME!!

*(7) 9.out.of.10.dentists is James' band.

*(8) Aww, I welled up reading this! What a lucky lady!