Shooting film with my Leica in Istanbul by Phillip Wortman

Shooting film with my Leica in Istanbul

by Phillip Wortman – His website is HERE

Last winter I travelled to Istanbul to capture the city on 35mm film. I have a very minimalistic approach in my photography so as usual I only brought my Leica M6, 35mm Summicron and tons of Kodak Portra 400 film.

I absolutely fell in love with the city and hope I could capture some of the vibe that’s omnipresent there. What fascinated me the most is how calm and peaceful the city and its residents are despite the huge dimensions.

Without getting too much into the politics or the sad news about terror that has struck the country in recent times I think it’s safe to say that a lot has happened in Turkey and Istanbul since I was there last year.

So I will probably return soon to continue this as a project and see if can document more of the of the city and maybe beyond Istanbul too.

Like most of my work the series sits between the genres of street photography, travel photography and sometimes elements of documentary photography.

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  1. I really like your pictures, very nice color but it is all about the light…and that light in your pictures is just awesome. But i also think that your point of view is very inviting to be part of the place. You give us a sense of place. Concerning 35mm i totally agree: shooting leica mp, 35 lux i just do not feel the need of changing the lens. Just move a few steps backward or foreward and all is good:-)

    Keep on analog shooting, Mike/Switzerland

  2. There’s something very different between film and digitals. I usually shot b&w film but white balance is completely different in film… there’s not really such a thing, just “daylight”.
    See for example those men on a ship or somewhere on the sea.
    There’s a warmth in all of it that seems away of electronics.

  3. I was about to complain about how bad the images look but then I looked at your instagram and its much better! What happened to the colors and the quality here?

  4. I really liked the shot of the mosque. I won’t say I love all these photos but I enjoyed viewing them. Istanbul is one heck of a place (one of Dan Brown’s novels had a scene there).

    The shot inside the taxi has lovely colours – I’m not aware of a sensor that can look quite like that.

    I love film as well but I don’t trust the infrastructure right now: scans are too expensive and don’t show the full potential of the medium. Cinema scanners are amazing but who is going to use a cine scanner for 36 exposure strips of film? There’s a huge market waiting for the manufacturer who makes a proper photographic scanner.

    Rangefinders, film or digital, are not useful to me right now but I do intend to get back into them. I’m not sure I could make do with merely one lens, but I could make do with a 28mm and a 50mm. 🙂

    FWIW, if you haven’t seen it, here’s an ad for Chanel, filmed in Istanbul, shot on 35mm:

    • Haha thank you. You sure don’t have to love all of them 🙂

      You’re right, scanning is a major issue with shooting film. I’ve been struggling with it for years and have tried almost every scanner there is. With the amount of film I shoot sending it off to a lab to get scanned is not economical for me.

      I’ve recently bought a Fuji Frontier SP500, which is absolutely amazing and everything I’ve been looking for. Just a tip 🙂

      28mm & 50mm is a also a great setup! The thing is, I hate changing lenses on the leica. I’m always scared I’ll drop the lens and ruin myself financially haha. So I only own the 35mm and NEVER take it off the camera. It’s nicely in between 28 and 50 and I feel like I can do everything with it. ALL photos on my website are shot with that setup.



    • Sorry if I have to disagree in that case
      Digital quality is far better nowerdays than film ever was…….and belive me
      taking pictures is my profession for 25 years now.

        • Dear Philipp,
          I agree but literally
          “Have life” and “the color” is “much nicer than”
          mean the opposite right ?

          So we have the battle going on again
          To be honest if you just compare results
          digital wins in any category……in studio and streets !

    • Thank you very much! 🙂

      Of course i agree with you in some way. It’s way shoot film. And only shoot film actually – haven’t owned a digital camera in years.

      But I’m a little hesitant with the word “better”. I think it’s just different and it’s what I happen to like better. A matter of taste.
      Also there are ton of photographers doing great work digitally, where I don’t care for a second about what medium was used. In the end it’s all about the content of the photograph I think.

      That being said if you’d like to see more film photography feel free to follow me 🙂

  5. Lovely images charming and well observed. Used to have an M6 now have an M8. Would love to have both : Moral of the story never sell a Leica if you can manage it.

  6. Thank you for sharing Phillip. You have captured the people and the mood very well. A melancholic, but very beautiful city.

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