Some of the best things in life come naturally. This is the case for Scottish photographer Molly Fletcher. Aiming only to capture what she feels at the moment, she is able to take home authentic frames that she eagerly shares with her friends and followers online. We love her approach to film photography and hope that more and more people shooting film will get to appreciate the craft the way Molly does.
Join us as we learn more about her and her warm, happy, and mellow life, captured in cinematic frames.
Hello Molly and welcome to the Magazine! What do you do and how did you get started in your photography journey?
Hey! Thanks for having me. I’ve been interested in photography since I was maybe 12 years old, and I took photos sporadically throughout my teens with various cameras that I didn’t know how to use properly. I moved to France when I was 19, and Spain when I was 20, and that’s when I started taking photos more consistently. I was seeing and experiencing a lot of new things, and I wanted to document them.
Although I had a DSLR, I was mostly using my phone, and since iPhone photos didn’t tend to look immediately aesthetic enough for my liking, I spent a lot of time editing them. Then a few years ago I discovered film photography on Instagram, and I loved how it looked so natural. So instead of buying a film camera, I started editing my photos to look like film (blasphemous, I know and I'm sorry!) Eventually, I was like, “Molly, why don’t you simply buy a film camera?” So in May 2019, that’s what I did.
What is your favorite thing about film photography?
What I love most is how it forces you to slow down, and everything that follows from that. You have a very limited amount of shots. You can’t just press the shutter 100 times at various angles and choose the best one later. You don’t tap a screen a few times and it’s over. You need to stop, think about what you really want from the shot, compose, focus, meter, get your settings just right, check everything twice over or more, and decide if it’s even worth it. And while you’re doing all that, it’s like you’re freezing the moment in time.
Shooting film is such a mindful activity, and that mindfulness allows you to properly savor and appreciate the moment you’re documenting before the shutter clicks and time starts again. And then because you spent so much time feeling out that moment, being present at that moment, you can see it so much more clearly in your mind when you look back on the photo. It takes you back to that exact moment in time. I use photography to document my life, so that aspect of it is really important to me. I get to reexperience moments of my life that meant something.
Why choose film now in this day and age?
Life is so fast, my thoughts go so fast, and film photography is an escape from that. Everything in my head quietens; for a while, it’s just me, my camera, and the shot. It’s therapeutic. I don’t get that same feeling when shooting with digital–the inherent immediacy doesn’t allow for it. I’m also not as present at the moment so, honestly, the photos feel less meaningful afterward. I understand the arguments in favor of digital, but I’d rather constantly pay for the experience of shooting film and how it makes me feel than lose that in favor of practicality. When I shoot digital, it just feels like something is missing. I lose a lot of what makes it so magical for me.
On top of that, film forces you to learn how everything works. You can use a digital camera on automatic, you don’t have to think about anything at all with an iPhone. And if you make a mistake, you know immediately and you can just try again. Mistakes with film are expensive! And you need to wait before you can even know you made them. It hurts a lot more when you excitedly wait to get a roll of film back, and then you do and the shots are mostly terrible because you don’t know how to expose them properly. So to avoid shooting your way into financial ruin with nothing to show for it, you need to learn how it all works. I think I’m getting there.
We're getting a warm vibe from your photos and we love it. Was this a particular style you were going for?
Thanks so much! When I work with my photos in post, I’m looking back on a memory and trying to convey how it felt to me. I play around until something in my head “clicks” and I know it looks how the memory feels in my mind. It isn’t necessarily intentional, and I don’t think, “I felt X emotion at this moment, so I’m going make it look like Y.” I just allow it to come naturally, and since I don’t have any control over how I felt, I can’t dictate what the end result will be; otherwise, it feels inauthentic. So rather than trying to achieve a particular style, I guess the warm vibe means I’m just accurately conveying how I’m feeling right now–warm, happy, mellow.
If you could describe your work in five words, what would they be?
Life, but make it cinematic.
What's your dream photo project?
I’m not sure what my absolute dream project would be. I have a few projects in mind that I’m brainstorming, but I want to keep those quiet for now. I actually met my husband through a film photography project he was doing that he asked me to be part of, but it didn’t end up happening because of Covid. I think it would be really cool to try and get people involved to finish it one day! That’d be a nice full-circle moment.
What inspires you to create?
Color! I notice it everywhere. Beautifully graded movies are an obvious source of inspiration, but there’s so much inspiration to be found in everyday life. A cozy cup of coffee on a Sunday morning. An amazing sunset while you’re just driving down the highway. Rain on the windshield with the lights of the city on a dark night. With color you can make even the most typically mundane, everyday things look cinematic. I love how you can use and manipulate it to tell a story and convey a particular vibe. Little moments that feel special to me always make me pick up my camera too.
Any tips for beginners out there who would like to try film photography?
I think the first step is finding a camera that is, ideally, recommended for beginners, but also fits your wants and needs. I did very little research in the beginning and the first film camera I bought was a point-and-shoot. I much prefer having full control over focus, so I felt like I was missing out and ended up buying an SLR a few months later. If I had taken a second and thought about what I actually wanted from it, I could’ve saved myself a lot of time and money!
Once you actually have a film camera in your hands, my biggest piece of advice would be: don't start with expensive film! Just don’t do it. You will probably make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, and that’s fine, it’s part of the fun. It will be infinitely less fun though if those mistakes are made on a $20 roll of Portra 400. I’d say start with cheaper film, and save your money for a high-quality lab. A good scan of consumer-grade film will look way better than a poor, rushed scan of professional film from the cheapest lab you can find.
I’d also say take your camera everywhere. You never know what’s going to inspire you, and it’s better to take it and not shoot anything than to leave it at home and think, “Damn, I wish I had my camera with me.”
What does a perfect day look like for Molly Fletcher?
It would always be with my husband. A sunny day in autumn. A coffee and a croissant for breakfast. Walking around, allowing ourselves to get lost, and shooting the things we see along the way. More coffee. A sunset drive (also shot on film, of course.) And then home, to smoke and listen to lo-fi and play Animal Crossing together.
We would like to thank Molly for sharing her story with us. Follow her on Instagram to stay updated with her work.