My Love Affair With Film
I am going to write a quick summary of my most frequently asked question, "Why Film?" In 2013, business had just started picking up to the point where I couldn't keep up. I was spending countless hours editing my digital images to look a certain way that I could never quite get to look "just right." I felt frustrated, and I hit a creative wall. One thing I knew for sure was that every single one of my favorite photographers was shooting film. To be honest, I laughed at the idea. How could this fit into my workflow? Isn't that what they did before digital was a thing? How could it possibly better suit my needs? How am I going to make shooting film with kids work when I usually have to take hundreds of photos to get a handful of keepers? Won't it be too expensive to actually make a living off of shooting film? What are my clients going to think when I pull out a camera from 1990 and start shooting? How am I going to know I am getting the shot when I can't see the back of the camera?
If you know me, I am relentless at getting what I want. I always have to get my way. Yeah, I said it (don't tell my mom or husband). So I thought to myself, I'm going to do this. I'm going to put in the blood, sweat and tears and apply everything I know about digital and learn to shoot film; a concept that is probably backwards to most baby boomers who learned on film and later changed to digital when it became available.
Here's what happened next: I buy my first film camera, frantically load the camera afraid I'm already going to mess something up, and I shoot my first roll. Images are scanned and come back from the lab. I think said images are going to look like a magical unicorn created them because, duh, all of the photographers that I love so much are making magical unicorn images. Nope. Fail. This is going to take a lot more work than I anticipated.
Fast forward a few years to 2016. I am now incorporating film into all of my weddings and doing my best to match my digital images to film (which wasn't that great yet- but I still liked it better). I tested more film stocks than you can count in every single lighting condition known to man. I'm talking hundreds of sessions/weddings where I partially shot on film. I was getting better! To my surprise, I was actually learning things that I didn't already know. Shocker! I was making progress and knew that my life as a photographer was forever changed.
This past fall, I knew I had to pull the trigger. I had to make the move over from digital to film for families and newborns. This was beyond nerve-wracking for me. For weddings I always have backups of a plethora of digital images. All of those previously mentioned questions began circling through my head again. But again, I pulled the trigger. Now, I am almost exclusively shooting film when conditions are right, and I could not be happier.
Now to the part you guys actually care about...
Why does film look so different?
The color. Colors are gorgeous, but also look very natural. Skin tones just look AMAZING on film. There is a softness, yet they still look rich and deep. Sometimes digital tends to make skin look orange or too red. Film creates an ethereal look that just can't be achieved with digital. Shadows and light look as if they are wrapping around people and gives a soft glow. Highlights are retained in the sky that are often blown out by digital. The grain. Give me all the grain. It creates character in a photograph and almost looks as if an artist painted it. I could go on for days about this, but that is why in my opinion it looks so different.
Film provides character in a photograph that to me can't be replaced with digital. The beauty and benefits outweigh the extra cost. Sure, there is a time and place for digital; if the light is not ideal, kids not being super cooperative, in a very dark hotel room. In those situations where modern gear wins, I would make the choice to use my digital camera. This is why I'm am a hybrid photographer. In any light situation that is bright enough, you will see me with my film camera.
Film slows me down. Previously I would click away at almost anything just praying that my trigger finger would give me a decent shot. Now, you find me waiting. Waiting for the perfect moment. The sweet instant connections between a brand new family. The playful giggles between mom and dad with their toddlers. A laugh between a bride and groom on their wedding day. These are the moments that I live for, captured on film to stand the test of time.