Why Film? 10 Reasons I love Film Photography

January 20, 2020

When I talk with couples for the first time, they always mention that they love my style and my work, but often, they can’t quite put their finger on what they love about it. I’ll give you a hint…it’s that look of film that they love.

Now, let’s fast forward to their engagement session…

We’re going along, I’m taking images, and 16 frames in I stop to change out my film cartridge and that’s when we have the in depth conversation…

“Are you shooting a film camera?”

And my answer is always a big “YES!”

“I didn’t know people still do that. Why are you doing it?”

And the reasons WHY I shoot in film bring me to today’s blog post…

So, let’s answer that question…

Why Film?

01 | Film adds a painterly quality to every single image. It’s an artistic process.

Shooting in film is truly an art form. Photographing in film takes attention to detail and careful planning on my behalf. Shooting in film makes me stop, slow down, and pay attention to the moments that are happening right in front of me. Film forces me to be ever present and aware of what is happening around me at all times.

This slower process allows me to think about the composition, the emotion, and the feeling that is going into every single image. And in the end I deliver images that truly feel like paintings with so much depth, color, and feeling to them. It’s an art form that isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

02 | It allows me to slow down and photograph with intention

Film is an expensive process for the photographer. It costs ~$3.71 every time I snap my shutter, from the cost of the film itself to all the processing fees. And on a wedding day when I’m photographing hundreds to over a thousand images, this cost adds up fast. While I am a hybrid photographer (that just means I shoot both in film and digital), I spend at least ~ $1,200 on film costs alone per wedding day.

I say all that because, as a film photographer I have learned to slow down and ensure everything is perfect in my frame before snapping the shutter. I have learned to let moments unfold, which requires me to focus on each couple’s wedding day with great intention. I’m always aware of what’s happening and to be ready to go when big moments happen.

Digital photographers often get carried away with snapping hundreds of photos without a whole lot of strategy involved. While they can deliver great images in the end, it also means there are MANY images not worth keeping at all. The benefit of using film is that I’m able to shoot with a documentary style that is intentional.

P.S. – As a film photographer I physically shoot WAY less than a digital photographer on a wedding day, but I deliver the same amount of images in my wedding galleries as I deliver almost 100% of the images I take.

03 | It’s safer from an image-loss perspective

I’ve heard them, and I’m sure you have too…those terrible stories of someone’s wedding images being lost from someone who was shooting with all digital equipment. Digital photography is great, I utilize the strengths of digital photography myself, but digital equipment can fail. Camera cards can be damaged or corrupt, images can be deleted, or lost.

On the other hand, if film is properly shot, modern technology isn’t going get in the way. Film is very robust and remains to be overtime. Film is packaged up, shipped off, and then scanned in by the film lab. Once the film is scanned in, the negatives can be stored forever and reprinted at any time.

Talk about legacy.

As a wedding photographer, I photograph each and every wedding with film and digital cameras to capture the dreamy components of a whole wedding day and do everything I can to further protect against lost images. You only get one wedding day, let’s make sure we keep your images safe!

04 | Film enhances YOUR experience as a client

Instead of being bombarded by constant clicks, as a film photographer I slow down and capture each frame with purpose. Having only 16 images on a single roll of film really makes me document your history with intention.

During my photography sessions and weddings, I lead couples through more comfortable interactions and directions that feels organic, natural and less like posing. This experience helps make your wedding day feel more permanent like we’re documenting your legacy and history. A slower process helps you focus on what’s important….creating your own memories and legacy. It’s my job to focus on crafting your timeless photographs, not yours.

05 | There’s a higher dynamic range to film images

Film images have more depth to them…quite literally! Through the combination of the film itself and the incredible equipment I use, the film has the ability to create a sharp focus on exactly what you want and compress the background of the image to create that painterly affect. When you look back at a film image, you feel like you’re looking a piece of art that feels bigger than life.

There is no other technology that matches the beauty of film. In my opinion, film offers the most incredible imagery out there, which is why I use it and offer it to my clients.

06 | It makes everyone’s skin look creamy and perfect

Because of all the incredible qualities about film I’ve described above, it has this ability to make everyone’s skin look creamy, perfect, and dreamy. Talk about a dream come true!

It’s so important to me that every image gets each clients skin tone exactly right, and thankfully film helps me accomplish just that! Humans are the most important subject in my images, so it’s so important they look their absolute best in every image.

I communicate with my film lab to focus on making the skin tones of each image perfect, which helps balance out the rest of the colors in the image perfectly. Film developed by professional equipment and labs gives an amazingly beautiful production of skin tones that is often very difficult to replicate digitally. 

07 | Film captures details beautifully

If you’ve ever looked at wedding details in a film image you know what I mean!

Film pulls out highlights differently than digital equipment does. Film is able to retain all the detail, texture, and complexity of details in a way that digital can’t. Have you ever looked at a digital image of a white wedding dress and noticed that all the texture and details are lost? Well, that doesn’t happen with film! Film preserves that color, texture, depth, and complexity in each image. Film can handle bright light, shadows, and all the components of any detail beautifully.

08 | Film pulls out color and grain in every image that makes you feel like you’re back in that exact moment

Film has the ability to naturally blend light and colors together better than digital technology is capable of. A digital image is filled with tons of little squares that eventually make up an image, but a film image isn’t. A film image is more like a fluid field of color and texture blending together to create a single image, making each image feel more true to life. Film has a great color range to it which allows it to pull out the depth of each color captured and making the image feel very rich. This is one of the main reasons I love film…for that incredible color!

Film also has a beautiful ability to pull out grain in all the right ways in an image. I especially love this about black and white film images. They develop this beautiful grain filled rich image that feels so romantic and lovely.

Let’s just be honest y’all…Digital. Can’t. Do. This.

09 | It helps savor your experience and memories

We live in a digital world where everyone wants everything right now. But film doesn’t work that way….and neither do I. Shooting and processing film all takes time. So this means, no night of wedding day sneak peaks.

But here’s the truth of it….you don’t NEED next day sneak peaks.

Instead, you need room to breathe and process what just happened during your wedding day, and to solidify those memories without being bombarded by all the images coming at you! Life is meant to be lived in real life, not over screens and social media posts.

And when it comes to your wedding photography, fast does NOT = better.

Trust me. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it deserves someone who slows down, pays attention to details, and delivers a high quality gallery for you to cherish forever. That’s what I want for you.

The entire process of using film from beginning to end is what I want for each and every one of my clients. It’s an intention filled process that allows me to deliver a timeless product. It’s worth it. You’ll get your wedding images soon enough, I promise!

P.S. – Instead of getting digital images in your hand first, I instead hand select my favorite images from each of my couples wedding day and mail these prints to them in a hand-crafted heirloom box. The first time my couples see their wedding photographs are in their hands, not on a screen.

We then take time to look through their digital gallery together and relive the whole day together. From beginning to end the film process is an intentional one and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

10 | Film allows me to provide a higher quality product

All these points together just really allow me to deliver a higher quality experience and product to my clients. I want the best of the best for my clients, and that means committing to film. I know my clients have galleries they can cherish for generations to come. Film will never fade. Film is timeless. Film creates an unmatched wedding experience.

Are you in love with film yet? Because I sure am!

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