Time and again, we hear photographers talk about reasons to shoot film. Film Photography has been tagged as a ‘dying art’. Many digital photographers believe that analog lost its charm ever since digital cameras came into existence. However, there’s a passionate segment of photographers (including pro wedding photographers) insisting that film photography is only gaining popularity over time. Film photographers believe there’s something compelling about the grainy depth of analog images. Also, the thoughtfulness that goes into shooting images on film is hard to imitate with digital photography where you know you can keep on photographing the good, bad, and better photographs, rapid-fire, and they’re forever stored on your memory card.
The recent revival of film photography as an ‘artistic movement’ has also compelled companies like Kodak and Fujifilm to revisit their product lineup to incorporate film offerings once again and Photography Labs that develop film for pro photographers have also begun to show back up.
Our Top 6 Reasons To Shoot Film and Why Some Photographers Prefer Film Over Digital
Film photographers can give you countless reasons why they prefer film photography over digital. Here are the top 12 reasons they always cite.
1. Escape the Rat Race
Digital photographers can be convinced that there is always a new and better camera, or piece of gear, to keep chasing — promising bigger, better and faster images. Film Cameras are less complicated, perhaps less innovative, and require far less money to invest it over the course of time. Yes, there are new brands of film, new printing photo papers, and there will always be new equipment and lenses. But photographers may find some peace in the film photography world because it seems far less urgent to “keep up”.
2. Slows You Down and Makes You More Meticulous
Every frame in film photography has a price unlike its digital counterpart so a photographer always tries to be the best when capturing an image. In digital, one can press the button 35 times to find at least 2 images to be good. Film photography makes you cautious and meticulous, slowing you down as you think about each shot. That extra “planning” can allow you to be a better photographer. Bonus — for the socially awkward or reserved type of photographers, taking more time with film can give you time to be more present with the client.
3. Get Unsurpassed Detail
Large format film is still the best way to capture an image in extreme detail. Modern films like Ilford Delta 100 and Kodak Ektar 100 have extremely fine grain and allow huge magnifications. Combined with the large surface area of large formats, this results in an unbeatable combination.
4. Digital is Easy to Lose
In the age of digital, we are prone to losing and deleting things accidentally and once they’re gone, they’re gone. If someone breaks into your house, they are not going to take your negatives and if you drop a film canister, it will work just fine!
5. Leaky Light Syndrome
Film photographers believe digital sensors suffer from “Leaky Sky Syndrome”. Digital sensors cannot deal very well with bright lights, such as the sky. The glow from the sky leaks into other areas of the picture giving the image an artificial appearance. Only a few high-end DSLRs minimize this, but they’re very expensive.
6. Higher Dynamic Range
HDR or High-dynamic-range imaging has been around since the dawn of photography itself. It was around way before Lightroom and Photomatix started churning out images with the HDR tagline. Film photographers say that digital never matches the HDR of film photography.
6 More Reasons to Shoot Film
7. Allows You to be Different
This helps a lot with business. Being unique, different from the digital crazy world is always impressive for clients. Clients book you just for the classic feel of film photography and you can absolutely use this as a marketing tool and differentiator.
8.You Don’t Need Electricity
From start to finish you can create photographic negatives, and in turn make prints from them, without the need for any electricity at all.
9. Film Cameras are Inexpensive
Oversupply and the emigration of film photographers to the digital realm has meant a glut of incredibly good film cameras available at a fraction of the price they first sold for. Brand new digital cameras can cost thousands of dollars, even before you start to buy lenses to suit your style.
10.The Element of Surprise
You wait to develop the film and see if you captured the desired shots. Sometimes you get much more than expected. It’s just exciting to get that surprise!
11. Developing Photos is Therapeutic
Some believe that every photographer should experience working in a darkroom at least once. As a film user, you may not be developing your own film, but you can! Where else can you witness firsthand the magic (and science) of photography? ShootDotEdit customer and Pittsburgh wedding photographer Jorge Santiago loves shooting with film as therapy, and in fact he doesn’t use it in his business because he wants to keep the creative outlet for himself! Read more about his story here!
12. Shooting Film Teaches You a Lot About Light & Colors
The different chemicals in the film influence how it renders light and color. As you experiment with various film stocks, you’ll become more familiar with their peculiarities, and eventually, you’ll learn to use them to your advantage.
After reading all these reasons, maybe you too want to start experimenting with film but don’t know which gear would be suitable for your wedding photography. We have some tips here. Read below.
Which Gear Do I Use to Shoot Film for Wedding Photography?
Developing film can be pricey, but analog gear often comes cheap — you can easily pick up a decent SLR from brands like Pentax or Minolta for under $100 on eBay. Contax 645 and a Zeiss 80 2.0 lens are also a good option. With companies like Impossible Project and Lomography reviving instant film photography, there are many more options out there for shooting analog.
The most used film nowadays for wedding photography is Fuji Film 400H and Kodak Portra 160 or 400. In Black and white film, Kodak TRI-X 400 or any of Ilford Delta are great — both as 120 or 35mm format. Film is best used in daylight situations, but real film lovers champion photos in low light too. As the best option we see a combination of film and digital — hybrid wedding photography — to have the best of both worlds.|
In case you are wondering about Film Developing Services after you are done photographing, here is an amazing list compiled by Shannon Ciricillo — 6 Film Services For Developing Your Photos.
How To Advertise Film Wedding Photography To Clients
There’s just something about film wedding photos that make them romantic and timeless right from the time they’re captured. No filters or drastic editing needed. This is exactly what you need to convey to your brides and grooms. You can give them these GREAT 9 REASONS for adding film wedding photography to their wedding package:
- Tell them about the classic look it provides.
- Speak to them about impressive detailing and depth film photography offers.
- Tell them it captures skin tones, grains, and colors much more beautifully than digital.
- Tell them you are photographing with the intention of making every frame the best and worthwhile.
- Tell them it is an artistic process, your prospective clients might like to be a part of that!
- Tell them you have experience in the medium and (possibly) developing the negatives.
- Talk to them about having the best of both worlds- film and digital photography.
- Talk to them about it as an amazing experience.
- Tell them it is much safer in terms of image loss.
Shoot Film: Wedding Photographers Who Inspire
Jose Villa, Erich Mcvey, Johnny Martyr, and Jen Huang are some amazing film wedding photographers you can take inspiration from. You can read about them and more here.
When you are shooting, whether film or digital, think about who you are shooting for, and why. if you’re shooting just for yourself – great! If you’re shooting for the client, of course take their needs into consideration. But if you’re shooting for your business, and to keep consistent with your brand, and to keep the wedding clients coming, consider shooting for your blog. Here’s a great article on how to do just that!
Shoot Film: Final Thoughts
ShootDotEdit’s origin story stems from what happens when the photography world turns upside down almost overnight (we’re talking about the birth of digital). We know great things are now possible because we have digital photography that many photographers shoot using digital cameras, but….there’s just something we still love about film. Enthusiasts and fans of the charm and aesthetic of film swear by, and champion, this original photographic technique and continue to create amazing photos using fully manual settings on analog cameras.
Our objective in this blog is not to convince you to abandon digital photography in order to go full analog. It is only to present analog cameras as a viable and useful option for having access to different camera formats without going bankrupt, use it as a means to practice the basics of photography and also to use as another photographic tool for different results than digital. Also, to realize that the most beautiful and impactful images in history have been captured on film.