My Transition into Film Photography

I am SO super excited to announce that I am starting my transition into film photography! I’ve been thinking about learning film just for fun since the end of 2017. But when I became pregnant in early 2018, some things just got set aside for the time being. So I was so super thankful to my sweet hubby when he purchased me my first 35mm camera, the Canon AE-1 program! (Best hubby ever!). So I wanted to write this because I think there may be a lot of question surrounding this transition, from both my past and current clients as well as other photographers. So I’m going to address what I think some may be wondering! And from here on out, I’ll continue documenting this exciting journey as well as answering any questions from fellow photographers! So let’s dive in, first off, what does my transition into film photography mean for my current brides?

WHAT DOES THIS MEANS FOR MY CURRENT BRIDES?

If you are one of my brides planning your wedding, first let me say, I would absolutely never take any kind of risk on a wedding day. This is just a rule I have in general. I do not ‘experiment’ on wedding days. This means, my current plan is to hold model calls (contact me here if interested in applying) for free film sessions in exchange for the images, to become more familiar with film. And then, once I become confident and sure, I am planning to slowly introduce some film in to my clients’ sessions and weddings. As of now, I am not planning on completely abandoning digital. (But never say never, right? 😉 ) I will for sure be using digital alongside film, as a hybrid photographer, and exclusively shooting digital during the reception once we lose light.

I truly feel that film images are what is in the best interest of my clients. My brides and clients love high quality, soft, bright & airy. And while I can achieve this with digital, film brings in such a special, dreamy, beautiful look in which I KNOW you will all drool over. In addition, I know that using film will make me a better photographer. Even more intentional. Even more particular. So I am SUPER excited! For myself and for you! haha. For my current brides even though there is additional costs with film, there will be no additional fees of any kind. However in the future this is likely at some point to increase my pricing. But don’t worry it’s worth every penny 😉

WHY MY TRANSITION TO FILM PHOTOGRAPHY?

So you may be like, what the heck? Film? What is this 1970? ha. Or may be you think it’s cool, in which case, you rock! 😉 Personally it wasn’t until a few years ago that I’ve felt the need to learn film. And even then it was just because I thought it’d be fun. However, rewinding to the search for a photographer for our family photos and then for our wedding, I realized every photographer’s work that I was really drawn to, and in love with, were all film photographers. In fact the wedding photographer I decided on was a hybrid of film + digital.

So this is what initially piqued my interest. However, once my husband purchased a 35mm for me, I started doing all the research. Likeee I did not even know how to load film, honestly I felt SCARED loading my first roll research, haha! So after really diving in to become familiar and looking closely at what exactly I was drawn to about these images, it became way more clear that this is the path I need to be on. Not only do I think this is the best service I can provide in terms of a final product, but I also think it will help create the best me. This has really relit a fire inside me for my love of photography. Once I reached a certain point in my career, I felt like there was always something missing from my images that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And the film medium is what is missing.

WHY I’M OBSESSED

First off, when you’re shooting digitally the rule is that you should err on the side of underexposure in order to retain highlight detail. But underexposed is the opposite of my final product. So one of thee most exciting things about film is that it works that opposite! Oh my gosh that makes me so giddy haha. In digital, expose almost any scene over 1 stop, and you really start to get blown out. However with film, you can literally overexpose by 5 stops (yes girl FIVE you read that right!) and you will retain highlight detail. And underexposing you lose detail in shadows that is hard to regain. LIKE WHAT?! Where have you been all my life haha. That means film favors getting those dreamy light, soft airy images over digital. Count. Me. In!

The other thing that has really caught my eye is that film images almost feel 3D. I think is because of this retention of highlight detail I mentioned that this is so. Y’all they become like freaking paintings. On top of, the bokeh and specular highlight quality in the bokeh is also different and it’s absolutely dreamy. The greens are also so, so beautiful. I’m personally not a fan of yellow toned greens, and film greens will be vibrant without being yellow. Not to mention the dang skin tones are just gorgeous, again I think because of the favoring highlights. And all highlights in general seem to carry more of a pink tone. PINK! YOU GUYS. that. is. my. jam. I am SO excited for my transition into film photography for that reason alone ha! (Do Note: You do have a good amount creative control over film with colors and such!)

A FEW THINGS I’VE LEARNED

I’ve been told, if you want to try out film, start with a 35mm. Although I already have my eye on the medium format camera I want haha. However medium format film rolls only allow like 12-16 exposures PER ROLL! Crazy, huh? Whereas a 35mm, you have 36 exposures. This makes it easier and cheaper for the learning curve to start with a 35mm.

The film roll itself determines the ISO, so you’re responsible for the shutter & aperture. You select the aperture on the lens itself, and the shutter (at least on the 35mm) is a dial on the camera body. From what I’ve tried to find, it looks like my ae-1 program uses center weighted metering. I’m interested to see how accurate it is. I’ve been overexposing all my exposures by at least 2 stops. Sometimes 3! OMG so fun haha. But it’s kind of been across the board that everyone recommends getting an incidental light meter. I haven’t 100% bought into that yet, I’m stubborn haha, but we’ll see.

Also noteworthy to mention that which film stock you choose as well as your lab is super important. For film, I’m planning to use FUJI 400H and Portra 800 for color. The latter of which is currently in my camera. For my lab, I’m planning to send to the Goodman Film Lab. It’s interesting because it’s not just about how the lab processes the film from the negatives, but apparently the way they scan them to digitals is super crucial to the final look. So a quality lab and good communication with them, is a major piece of the puzzle.

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

It’s really interesting, fun and exciting shooting film! I’ve realized coming from digital you should definitely feel confident. You have so much knowledge already, of light and exposure and how all the manual settings work, you just have to think about film a little bit differently. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my scans to share here yet HAHA! But that will change soon. It’s funny how you are so much more picky about the photos you take when you only have so many. I think that’s part of the beauty. I’m excited for this journey and all the growth that will come of it! Hope you enjoyed reading the first of many posts of my transition into film photography! Stay tuned because I WILL be sharing scans in the future. Although right now during Covid they may be kind of boring Ha!

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