This summer during a trip to New York, our editorial intern and Instagram guru, June, traded her phone for a film camera in an effort to capture simple moments in the bustling city. Before we had to sadly bid her adieu for the new school year, we picked her brain on all things old school photography and New York! We think you’ll love her observations – and photography tips – as much as we do!

Manhattan looks different on film. Sure, the lure of provocative new exhibits, ever-changing eateries and the buzz of a sleepless city never fades. But in contrast to the speedy snapshots we’re surrounded by everyday, there is a revisited sense of stillness that comes from capturing New York City on film. When I found out my family was traveling to Manhattan for a week this summer, two things immediately came to mind. First, that I would melt in August’s humidity. Second, this same heat would not hinder my efforts to explore and document as much of the city as I could!


All of you film enthusiasts know that there is nothing more satisfying than pulling the camera’s metal lever, hearing the film strip move forward, followed by the ringing ‘click’ of the manual button. We’re so used to pristinely edited photos, taken quickly and by the masses. Seeing the grain of film photos is such a rare pleasure. Having bought a film camera earlier this year, the best advice I can give to new shooters is to simply pick up the camera and start experimenting, like I did!


Top 3 Tips for Shooting with Film:

> Lighting and Balance: Although professional classes aren’t necessary, a little technical knowledge will go a long way. Light balance and exposure are the most important factors for a film camera, and especially after using a digital camera, you’ll want even more natural light than you typically need.

> New perspectives are everything. Try things from different vantage points. If you’re taking a shot from above, try cropping certain objects in the frame in interesting ways. Disproportionate details can help an image look far less staged!

> Price- or lack of service shouldn’t stop you! Film is expensive and finding stores that develop film can be a challenge. But the result? Completely worth it. Just be sure to understand the correct loading and unloading method- this will save you from an accidentally overexposed strip!


Now that I’ve shared a few tisp for getting behind the film camera, I can’t leave without sharing a few of my fave New York stops!

> Cafes: Grand Cafe Lafayette: order croissant with apricot jam + mocha, Toby’s Estate in Flatiron or Brooklyn: order cortado and avocado toast

> Bookstores: Dashwood Book, McNally Jackson, and Creatures of Comfort

> Restaurant: Saxon+ Parole

>Leisure: Washington Square Park at night, Egyption Room at the Met Museum

Whether you love photography or simply wish to see things from a new {or should I say older!} perspective, picking up a film camera and exploring a new city is so incredibly rewarding. There is nothing instant about it and that’s what makes it so worthwhile! — June

photography by June Rustigan 

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  1. Never have I fallen more in love with film photography than the last year. Working for SMP had brought the art back to life for me! These photos are absolutely drool worthy. So beautiful!

  2. I absolutely love this! I definitely need to start shooting film again – there’s nothing like that analog film grain that is so sentimental.

    1. Thanks so much Alex! I use a Mamiya Sektor 500 TL, but I’ve heard great things about the Pentax and Nikon film cameras too.

  3. I loved the post! Can’t wait for my chance to discover New York on film 🙂
    I got started on film photography with lomography cameras but now I can’t seem to let go of my Canon AE-1.

  4. Film photography will never lose its charm. Though it’s actually hard to develop prints nowadays. Nice shots, btw! <3

  5. You’re making me miss my Contax G2 — a wonderful film camera that was small, functional, and took amazingly sharp photos…Oh well, I now have my Fuji X-E2 to replace it (digitally). Photoshop and Nik Efex will help “recreate” the film look, but there is a certain kind of magic that only film could provide…cheers for your article and for articulating a feeling that many of us wish could return.