How to Know if a Film Photographer is the Right Choice for You

Tackling one of my New Year’s goals today and blogging tips for the dear, sweet couples out there who have found themselves engaged this holiday season! Truly, congrats on entering such an EXCITING season! :)

I’m starting off strong today with an intimidating question I think couples looking for an artful approach to their wedding photography ask. If you are out there wondering about this right now, I hope you find this post helpful in determining the best choice for your wedding experience!

How to know if a film photographer is the right choice for you:

  1. A romantic vibe is one of your top priorities, and you love true-to-life color.

Film naturally has an overall romantic quality and stunning color! This is due to a number of technical things about the film, cameras, and lenses used, and with fear of boring you, I’ll keep it veryyy simple :). The instrinsically “romantic” quality of film is due to the touch of grain and ability for even greater depth of field (i.e. those blurry backgrounds that look so beautiful!). It’s perfect for weddings! The other mentioned point–about color–is that film has the ability to capture color that tends to be more consistently true-to-life than digital. I do want to be careful here, because there are digital shooters that do an amazing job with color as well, but film itself does this so naturally and beautifully on it’s own, it really is a prime characteristic of film photography.

I think the below image does a great job showcasing these two points–see the range of color in all of the greens, how the skin tone of beautiful bride Katie is on-point, and the sublte blush color of her dress is retained. In addition, that blur in the background is gorgeous, and I love how everything looks as if its wrapping around the bride to showcase her as beautifully as she looked this day.

2. You don’t mind a slower shooting process for an end result of highly curated photographs.

With film, the experience tends to be slower, yet more intentional.

There are many different styles of cameras a film photographer can use, but most likely, your photographer has a max capacity of 16 frames per roll. 16 frames! What that means is that after 16 images are captured, the photographer then has to change the roll out for a new one and continue on (usually under a minute to do so). These rolls are also very expensive to process, which means it’s vitally important that each frame truly count.

In my opinion, this is hugely where film photography really stands out from digital–in the capturing process. Rather than running through a series of poses and “click, click, clicking” away to hopefully get 1 or 2 “keeper” frames, a good film photographer will slow down and carefully calculate each shot taken. This creates a slower process between each click of the camera, but also, in my opinion, produces a stronger end result of a more polished final gallery.

Because each image is photographed more intentionally, there tends to be a much higher “keep rate” when the photographer is curating the final images for delivery. With digital, I used to keep a fraction (maybe 25%) of the images I actually captured, and with film, though I may have shot fewer overall images, I end up keeping about 75-90% because of how intentionally each photo was captured.

3. You don’t mind waiting for something really special.

You won’t get to see the photos right away, but if you love the look of film photography, that wait is 100% worth it. Because we are photographing on film rolls that have to be delivered to a film lab, developed in a dark room, and then digitally scanned frame-by-frame, there’s no opportunity for next-day sneak peeks like digital. Truly, it creates an element of surprise that is part of the wonderful experience.

I love this element because it almost breaks the wedding photography experience into carefully crafted stages.

  • Stage 1 is creating space for the moments to unfold themselves, to be present in them and enjoy, while having them carefully and intentionally captured by the outside observer (photographer).
  • Stage 2 is the few weeks of waiting (for weddings, my wait is 3 weeks before the lab delivers scans, in which I immediately send a sneak peek gallery to my clients). Though I know this period is hard, it also allows for time to fully digest and relive the moments as only your mind’s eye has captured them while anticipation builds.
  • Stage 3, having been greatly anticipated, brings the whole experience to a peak when you get to see your photos for the first time! And for the for the person who has an eye and appreciation for the difference, those film photographs are worth every bit of waiting!!!

In the end, both film and digital have strengths and it really comes down to your artistic preference. Also, do keep in mind that most film photographers will also shoot digital (for faster-paced moments of the day, or when shooting in low light). I hope this post helped with clarifying what may be the best choice for your wedding day!

 

Xoxo,

Charity

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