Why Shoot Film?
Asides from providing a fulfilling new experience to us as digital photographers, film photography has proven to improve our business and shooting in unexpected ways. These are just a few of the ways you can improve your wedding photography by learning film.
Miss Less Moments
This may seem counter-intuitive, given that you can not shoot nearly as fast with film and you have a limited number of photos you can take. However, when these restrictions are imposed it actually helps teach you to be more present and pro-active. Instead of shooting and hoping for moments or firing rapidly when something happened, slowing down has helped us to better predict moments and capture them more effectively.
Improve your workflow
Slowing down hasn’t only helped us get better shots and miss fewer moments; it has improved our workflow and tightened our delivery process. Because we shoot with greater intention, we naturally shoot less and have less to cull. This saves us money and time.
Understand your camera settings better
It’s paramount that you have an intuitive sense of how your camera works on a wedding day, and the best way to improve your sense of this is by removing crutches. Your LCD screen is a crutch. Shooting film helped us further ingrain the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and light. You have to make a conscious decision on film stock prior to shooting an environment, so your ISO is effectively fixed. If you need more or less light, you have to read your light meter and really know how to use your equipment.
Our Favorite Film Cameras (for learning)
Of course, we love a good medium-format camera like the Contax 645, but that’s not what we would recommend for dipping your feet into film and using it as an auxiliary learning tool to improve your wedding photography. You can get the most bang for your buck out of an old-school used 35mm film camera like the Pentax k1000. You can pick one up a used one on Amazon with a 50mm lens for under $150. We went with the Pentax over the other common starter film camera, the Canon AE-1, because we wanted a fully manual, mechanical experience. We wanted to try going in the complete opposite direction from digital and explore something new. That said, the Canon AE-1 is another great entry-level film camera.
Which Film Stock Should You Go With?
Stocks like Fujifilm Pro 400H and Kodak Portra 400 are great for weddings because they overexpose well and can absorb some underexposure. You have about three stops of forgiveness in the highlights and a stop in the shadows, so lean towards overexposing. For a more classic look, you can go black and white and grainy. Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5 Plus are great black and white film stocks, but we preferred Tri-X due to its extra punch and richer blacks.
The least expensive way of procurring film is from your local film developer, but when those are lacking amazon has a good supply. We’ve also ordered from Richard Photo Lab when having our negatives sent back, but this only ends up being cheaper when you are already paying the shipping for the negatives (or if you buy in bulk).
A Break From Expectations
Ultimately, shooting film offered us a meditative experience in contrast to digital, a chance to break away from the expectations of shooting professionally and do something new. If you’re looking to elevate your photography, the best thing you can do is step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Learning film photography could be just what you need to break out of a creative rut or find some new inspiration. The moral of the story though is to challenge yourself. Set aside time to try new out new techniques or experiment within your photography. It’s when you step out of your comfort zone and learn new things that you grow and improve.
We would love to hear more about your photography business and see how we can help. Reach out to us here, we look forward to hearing from you!
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