An Interview with Film Photographer and Adventurer, Amelia Le Brun

I've followed photographer Amelia Le Brun on Instagram (@amslebrun) for a few years and had the pleasure of interviewing her about her photographic practice and thoughts on some cameras we sent her to try.

An interview with adventure 35mm film photographer Amelia Le Brun

Amelia Le Brun is an adventure and lifestyle photographer, based in the UK (most of the time!) Her Instagram feed is the kind of feed that makes you want to quit your job and travel the world in a van, which is kind of the point, I guess? Amelia’s work is not only makes us wanderlust, but is also cinematic, beautiful, and has an authenticity behind it.


She uses a mixture of film and digital cameras throughout her work. We sent her a couple of cameras to try out, the Canon AE-1 Program, and the Nikon 28Ti, along with most of my personal collection of remaining 35mm colour film. And if that doesn’t tell you how much I like her work, then I don’t know what will.


We wanted to catch up with Amelia, hear her views on the cameras she tried out for us, and hear a bit more about her practice and photographic principals.

An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer
Taken with the Canon AE-1 Program
An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer

A lot of photographers speak about how film slows down their photographic practice, and helps them to focus on the composition and framing of their work. How does using film change your photographic practice?


“This is one of my driving forces when it comes to shooting film. I have a tendency to obsess over the smallest detail and consequently it’s easy to get stuck with your eye glued to the back of a camera screen making sure you have the ‘perfect’ photo. Since shooting film a lot more consistently, for both personal and commercial work I’ve learnt to live more in the moment and most importantly embrace every imperfection that makes up shooting film.”

An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer
Taken with the Canon AE-1 Program

I think a lot of photographers would share your sentiment on that; slowing down Is certainly one of the main reasons we love film. You talk about your driving forces behind using film, so what do you think your greatest asset is as a photographer?


"I think my greatest asset is my desire to learn, and that I’m not afraid to ask questions. I am a firm believer that I can never know enough about photography, be that technical information or tips/advice on how to interact better with my subject. It’s important to be humble and accept that it’s important to evolve and grow. I love watching my favourite photographers workshops, listening to podcast interviews and learning about the way they work."

An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer
Taken with the Nikon 28Ti
An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer

Speaking of technical information, what’s one photographic practice/rule/piece of info that you’ve never been able to get your head around?


“The rule of thirds. I have never been able to understand this, what it is, why it matters and what the heck it even does! I am much more of a run and gun photographer so I’ve never really missed it.”

I think the rule of thirds is a garbage rule, and also when you have the “eye” as a photographer, you find the composition that works naturally, and sometimes this will end up fitting into the thirds anyway! 


What do you think you look for when creating photographs? Are you drawn to a particular subject?


“I am drawn to scenes and places that evoke emotion and a feeling of nostalgia, not necessarily a subject itself but a scene that makes me feel something. I tend to look for scenes that make me immediately think ‘I want to remember this moment.’”

An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer
Taken with the Nikon 28Ti
An interview with Amelia Le Brun, 35mm film photographer

As a professional photographer, do you view photography as more of a hobby or a profession? And how do you navigate the balance?


“For me this is unavoidably both. Photography started as a hobby when I was younger, a way to document a rather extraordinary childhood and has since morphed into an incredible career. Navigating the balance can be a real struggle, there is that saying ‘do what love and you will never work a day in your life’. Well, most freelancers I have spoken to feel more like: do what you love and you will work every single hour of every single day God sends. I am aware of how lucky I am to have a job that is also my hobby but it’s important to nurture the creative side of photography as well as the professional one. Having passion projects and shooting personal work keeps that fire underneath me and helps me stay excited.”

We lent you the Nikon 28Ti - what did you think of it?


"The first thing I was drawn to on the 28Ti was the set of dials on top of the camera, I’m not quite sure how to describe them apart from delicately industrial. I love the simplicity of the camera, the fixed lens is very appealing as I like a simple set up to stop me faffing about choosing what lens, what settings etc.

I think, for me, the only down side is as you look through the viewfinder it doesn’t show the focus, the only way to know is to look at the dials on top. For someone with terrible distance perception, this is a bit of a struggle."

Shots taken on the Nikon 28Ti by 35mm film photographer Amelia Le Brun
Taken on the Nikon 28Ti
Night time 35mm film photography by 35mm film photographer Amelia Le Brun
Created using Cinestill 800T

You had the Canon AE-1 Program for a shorter period of time. Did you manage to get any good shots from it? What were your thoughts on the camera for the short amount of time you used it?


"There is something lovely about a simple fully manual [it also has fully automatic settings] film camera. It forces you to slow down even more and focus on controlling focus, exposure etc. It is naturally a little more difficult to shoot a moving subject on a manual focus set up, but once you have enough practice under your belt it becomes a lot easier.


The AE-1 Program had a lovely 50mm lens which made for some amazing portraits and I took some of my favourite photos on the beaches of Iceland with this camera."

What are your top tips for travelling with film and cameras?


"Ask for hand scan, but prepare for the fact that most airport workers haven’t got the time or inclination to hand scan your film (I have found it hard to get film hand scanned in London airports, and when speaking to airport staff at security I have been assured that the scanners will only affect film over 3200 ISO.) I never put my film in the hold as the scanners are a lot more powerful.


To make up for any discrepancies I carry all of my film in a lead lined (or similar) bag, I have never had a single issue with travelling with my film like this so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Find a way that works for you and stick to it!


With regard to cameras, if I am travelling long distance with a full set, I will put my bulkiest cameras (Pentax 67, digital bodies and large lenses) into my Peli Case and any lighter bodies and film in my Wandrd rucksack."

What has been your favourite place to travel to create photographs?


“Central Europe as a whole, since my first van trip through Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and Austria with my best friend it has been one of my favourite places to explore and create work. The ability to access such a variety of countries and cultures so easily from mainland UK is incredible. From the soaring French Alps to the picture book villages of Switzerland, there is incredible diversity and history to be explored and photographed.”

Taken with the Nikon 28Ti

You travel a lot with your friends who are also creatives. How does working in a small group help your photographic practice and creativity?


“I used to be a real loner, being on the Autistic spectrum I find it hard to make new friends and the thought of meeting new people can send me into a spin. I also tend to struggle spending long amounts of time with people without having the space to go off and decompress. While I still struggle with the above, I have grown massively as a person and will now often choose to be with people as opposed to being alone. I love bouncing ideas of friends and sharing creative ideas, it’s a great opportunity to learn and see things from other creatives perspectives, thus widening your horizons.”

What camera gear would we usually find in your camera bag? Are there any essentials that you never travel without?


"It really depends where I’m going and what I’m shooting! What I almost always have in my bag is: Leica M6, Leica Q2, my trusty Olympus Mju II Zoom, my Canon 5DS (16-35mm lens) and an assortment of film (Portra 400,800, Ultramax, Gold etc!) I’m currently planning to switch the Mju to a Contax T2, though!


My essentials are pretty straight forward: spare batteries (for my film cameras!) and plenty of snacks- both sweet and savoury!"

Tell us a bit about some of the photographs you took on the cameras we sent you.

"The Nikon was the perfect pocket companion for a week I spent in Paris, and In fact I took some of my favourite city images with it. It was a great camera to take as I was travelling light (it wasn’t a photography trip!) I was pleased with how the camera performed at night, the flash was effective and it didn’t struggle too much with focus. Despite not seeing the focus through the viewfinder I don’t think it missed focus much at all.

Image of Paris taken with the Nikon 28Ti
Taken on the Nikon 28Ti

The images I shot on the Canon AE-1 Program are a rare example of my shooting a moving subject on a manual focus camera and I absolutely love them. For me these images embody the reason I shoot film, embracing every imperfection, the blur, missed focus and grain that really give these images their feeling."


Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!

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Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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