Mental Health Awareness Week came and went last week, but it’s important to not stop having conversations around mental health. Isabella Ruffatti writes about the dangers of perfectionism and how shooting film this summer is a good way to break free from them.

There are many reasons to shoot film and why you could say it beats digital. It’s fun, the colours are amazing, you get to attach the photos to your wall and it really makes you think about the photos you’re taking. For me, all these reasons have driven me to try and continue shooting in film, but the most important of all to me is probably the imperfections of film.

Screenshot Photoshop editing levels exposure

Editing levels on Photoshop has saved my images from underexposure doom many times and at first, I would use this to perfect the exposure in all my other images, as well as adding a tiny bit of vibrance so they all fit a similar ‘look’ I wanted. Discovering Lightroom and presets made my inner perfectionist even happier.

I’m a perfectionist, have been since high school, a time of my life in which my recurring nightmares were of academic failure and toads chasing me. As a photographer, this has translated into doing everything I could to get the elusive ‘decisive moment’, punching numbers in Photoshop and Lightroom to find a perfect post-production formula for my photos and cropping until the composition was just right. I also have a very strict no-photographing-toads rule.

As a millennial/Gen Z-er, I’m accustomed to all things automatic, which usually suits my quest for perfect just fine. But like many millennials and Gen Z-ers, after obsessively doing what I could to prepare myself for my chosen career in photojournalism, I started feeling burnt out. I barely took any photos for two whole years and recent technical disasters and lost equipment have made it hard to get back.

Instax overexposed photo portrait

Taken with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. Photo credit: Isabella Ruffatti.

To say that film photography has pushed me out of my creative drought and towards trying new things isn’t entirely accurate- It can be better phrased as dragging me kicking and screaming like a serial killer’s victim in a horror movie. It’s since taught me that perfect and becoming a better photographer are not the same goal.

I have recently had a look back at my so-called ‘flukes’. There’s that portrait of me as a fresher during my first year in the UK -except you can’t tell it’s me because my face and only my face is obscured by overexposure. I look like a sun. Then there’s the photo I took of two Sylvanian families figurines that look as though they were in a negative, set against a normal background, clearly possessed. Lastly, there’s the five failed Instax shots of my Lego figurine enjoying the sunshine, which then became props for another photo were said figurine attempts to outrun them.

Overexposed Sylvanian families instax mini 12

Overexposed Sylvanian families photo, taken with Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. Photo credit: Isabella Ruffatti.

My inner perfectionist may cringe at these ‘mistakes’ but I am reminded of why I like photography in the first place. While it has something to do with the final product, it has as much to do with the crazy Rube Goldberg machine-like process that gets me there.

With most of London already in relaxed Summer mode (spotted someone wearing fluffy purple sandals on the train amid all the regular Converse sneakers, tennis shoes, and boots the other day), I will be continuing to experiment with film this summer, be it with my trusty Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 (and the recently released Fujifilm Instax Mini 12) camera, a disposable 35mm point and shoot, or another film camera I haven’t tried yet (am currently taking recommendations) and shush my inner perfectionist.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Amateur Photographer magazine or Kelsey Media Limited. If you have an opinion you’d like to share on this topic, or any other photography related subject, email:

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