This post is part of a series of blog posts that explain my thought process and personal style. I believe the ‘why’ is a really important part of finding the right wedding photographer and connecting with someone who can document your day in the same way you envision it. Beyond simply documenting, a wedding photographer should be able to show your story and convey it through their work. I use film in this way to lean into more artful, detail-oriented, and expressive moments. I also use film because I genuinely enjoy the magic and character that it holds and the way it forces me to slow down.
Film photography has had a resurgence in recent years but there remains a strong presence in the wedding industry of photographers who have always relied on medium-format film to serve their clients. I respect the hell out of that because there are inherent risks in using film that digital cameras mitigated for us years ago. The results are obviously worth it and professionals know how to avoid some of these risks but no one is bulletproof. Digital cameras are also capable of producing results that look very, very close (I’d argue identical and indistinguishable to most people who are not photographers) to the film look. I’m not here to write about the merits of film for anyone else or compare the two, I’m just writing this to explain why I prefer a hybrid approach and love offering film to my couples who are interested.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but I like to think about film vs. digital in comparison to an artist who might use acrylic and oil to make paintings. Again, please don’t come for me with the differences between these two mediums and how they’re not the same as film vs. digital, I totally understand that. What I will say is that a lot of times, painters prefer one or the other and even though they might use both, there’s always going to be one that feels extra-special to them or is more inspiring in their creative process. Film really, truly inspires me for the reasons I mentioned before. I like that it’s deliberately much slower when compared to digital, but I also recognize that I want to be fast and take advantage of the aspects of digital that make life a whole lot easier. Photographers have been capturing weddings on film for far longer than they have digital, so it’s not necessarily that digital can do something film can’t (though I can shoot in far lower light without the use of flash on digital), it’s just that it makes life easier. I’m not one for making my life deliberately harder. Film also has a serious cost impact on the services I can offer and I don’t really see it as a practical solution to shoot weddings exclusively on film for my clients. There are people out there who are willing to pay really incredible photographers to shoot their wedding solely on film, but I am not marketing to them.
I see film as an ancillary aspect of my work, one that complements a gallery primarily captured with the use of digital cameras and highlights some extra special moments in a unique way. I could stop shooting film tomorrow and still deliver work to every client that feels authentic to their unique day. My reason for still using film is because I like to, not because I think it somehow does anything better. That simple fact is something that I think a lot of photographers tend to forget and then end up in positions where they feel like they’ve lost sight of what they love to do. I know for me personally, whenever I am hiring someone to do something, I want to make sure they’re invested in the work and like doing it. So, my explanation in short for using film is because it really excites me and is something I enjoy.
I offer 35mm film add-ons to every wedding package I offer. Couples have the option to choose how much film I shoot and I generally am providing the highlights of the day under natural light on film. In some instances, I might use flash on the dance floor or in very dark reception spaces. My goal by the end of the night is to have a few photos from special, key moments on film and I usually deliver these after the full digital gallery is complete, 6-8 weeks after a wedding day. This leaves something extra to be surprised by after looking through the collection of digital photos and my hope is that the excitement of receiving scans back from the lab is felt by every couple because that’s a big moment of joy for myself. The film lab I’ve trusted for several years now delivers high resolution scans that require almost no processing, but typically I make very small edits with color adjustments or minor cropping. I edit my digital images in a natural way that, for the most part, mirrors characteristics of film. A lot of times, it’s really difficult to tell the two apart when I photograph the same scene using both digital and film. That makes me happy. At the end of the day, I hope each couple appreciates that I really enjoy photographing their wedding story in this way!
September 5, 2023