I am Tim Heubeck and this is why I shoot film
We’re really pleased to have been able to grab some time with the talented Tim Heubeck, a 19 year old photographer seemingly obsessed with black and white film and travel – a nice combination and great for producing the beautiful results you’ll see below.
Get settled and get stuck in. Over to you, Tim!
Hi Tim, what’s this picture, then?
TH: This one of my favorite photos ever made and really one I was excited about taking it. I knew I had to take the picture. I had this one in my head and it just came out how I imagined it to be. I was very close and kind of blocked out the stream of people walking through to one get a big enough shadow on the wall and also to also not get anybody walking through the image.
I only took two frames of two scenes and just waited until the shadows seemed right in my viewfinder. It just came together, a traditionally dressed woman on the one hand and a man on the other hand.
This was also my first really good shot with my Leica M6. Before that I just did not really enjoy the camera and thought it was a pain to expose manually and to focus manually. Now I appreciate it a lot more. This was also the moment I was fully convinced with shooting film and did not question it ever since.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
TH: A 19 year old guy who likes to take pictures of scenes he finds interesting. Funny enough, photography is kind of this private thing to me and I barely talk about it.
My ultimate goal in photography is to produce books. Therefore all my work is project based and I have published three books / zines so far.
When did you start shooting film and what about now? Why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
TH: I initially started around 2014, but then sold all the film stuff again because I did to really get it at the time I guess. Growing up after the end of consumer film maybe was the reason for me to get into it and I have to say I always liked the film cameras a lot more. After shooting and focussing more on black and white I finally made the switch. In summary for about 1.5 years now.
There are several reasons. I did not want to spend so much time on the computer anymore. (kind of ironic now considering scanning and editing the scans…). It helps me to shoot less, meaning that I have less editing to do in terms of selecting the images. And the main reason, I put more value in each individual image.
What drives me? I always have the urge to create something. Maybe that is why I only focus on producing books. If I am not taking photographs when I am somewhere it always feels like a waste of time and the camera is my passport and the reason to go out and see the world.
I used to struggle and still do a lot with not being able to take images in my hometown or even own country. Which results in more traveling, but now I also managed to get a considerable amount of images in my latest book “fragments of reality“ taken in and around my hometown.
What’s the next challenge…your next step? How do you see improving your technique, or what aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
TH: One of my biggest challenges over the coming year is to shoot more, and find interesting subjects where I am living. You just get so used to your mundane surrounding and don’t really see the good images anymore.
Most of my photographs were taken while traveling, so either I will find more interested here or I have to travel a lot more (trying to do both nowadays).
I want to create a consistent body of work and also would like to gain more confidence when shooting images of strangers. Another goal is to try and keep my gear as simple as possible.
Any favorite subject matter?
TH: Quite random. I would definitely say I am not the most confident with taking pictures of strangers. It always causes some kind of anxiety and I have to be in my photographic rush to find the courage usually.
Definitely not the obvious or things that normal people would say are worth taking a picture of.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
TH: Kodak Tri-X 400….any day. It’s just the overall flexibility and look. Importantly, I really have a workflow that works for the film.
Here comes the point, I am currently stocking down all of my Tri-X to be able to switch to Ilford HP5+ because Kodak just raised the prices and I may get into bulk loading some day.
As a last roll I still would choose Tri-X, it is the stuff that made me get into film photography in the first place.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject mater. What to you take with you and why?
TH: Leica M6, Zeiss 50mm f/2 and Kodak Tri-X 400 (you can always push it!).
I used to shoot a lot of different cameras but the M6 somehow packed everything I ever wanted into one complete package at a small size. 35mm is the focal length I naturally gravitate towards.
I tried out various different focal lengths and 35mm lenses, specifically the Summicron ASPH is — in terms of performance, size and usability — sublime in comparison to all of them.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
TH: Of course Kodak Tri-X 400 and it’s hard to chose the location.
Either San Francisco or Istanbul, but probably Istanbul. Both cities are amazing, great scenes, nice light and interesting subjects.
But I have to say Istanbul has still remained more traditional and imperfect. It is a city that provides a lot of possibilities and especially great light (which is what I have to rely on).
I dearly hope to be able to go back there soon, if things calm down a little bit I surely will.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
TH: That it makes you a better photographer. There just goes a lot more into it, I would say rather get into photo books and you can use any camera to take good images.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
TH: I think black and white film will be there forever. At least as long as I am alive.
~ Tim Heubeck
“…get into photo books and you can use any camera to take good images”
I’ll to admit to having been a photographer obsessed with gear. Perhaps not in the sense that I believed that owning a specific camera would imbue me with some magical talent to make amazing photographs; more in the sense that a certain lens would provide a certain look missing from my collection.
I’ve spent the past few years collecting, stripping back, re-collecting and re-stripping back my active camera and you know what I’ve found out? There’s a huge market for a camera/lens lending library. That and regret.
Whilst that last comment might be a little tongue in cheek, there’s some sense to it. It’s an inevitability to become so comfortable with gear that the only challenge is making a good image. Whilst some might say that this type of mastery is what film photography is all about, an equally important counterpart is learning to use the camera — and the excitement that comes from the uncertainty as well as the mastery. Half of my personal GAS problem was driven by curiosity about what it would be like to use a particular camera, or lens – that’s where the lending library comes in.
Back to the rambling point and if I look at instances of GAS which resulted in an eventual sale, or neglect of the item purchased, they were largely driven through boredom with what I had. That 50/.18 lens too normal? Get the 1.4. Want to shoot wide? Get a 28…then go long with a 105, then get another 50 because old glass is better, right? Ugh, I’m bored with SLR cameras, what about a rangefinder? What about three?
What am I saying? Your guess is as good as mine. But if I can pull on this thread a little more (with a healthy dose of red wine), then I think what I’m trying to express this:
Find a camera you love and that does the job you need, then stick with it.
We all get bored but “better” gear, or better brands won’t help you take better photos. They only make you feel better about yourself for a while, which has little value to the end result. There’s no fundamentally important, or earth-shattering difference in the images you can produce with a Rolleiflex VS a Rolleicord, or a Nikon FT3 VS an FM3A, much the same way that a Puma hold-all won’t allow you to carry more items than one made by Louis Vuitton – it’s the way you pack that counts.
It’s all about technique.
Thanks again to Tim for sharing his thoughts and images. I think you’ll agree that he’s got a bright future ahead of him. You can catch up with Tim via his website, www.wasteoffilm.com and on Instagram. Please take a few minutes out to connect.
Well be back soon with another willing victim but in the meantime, keep shooting, folks!
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