Nothing gets me quite as excited as dreamy, grain-filled, painterly images like those captured on film. There is something so timeless and nostalgic about this medium that keeps me coming back, even after spending most of my life’s savings on this expensive art form (mostly joking there).
In all seriousness though, film is expensive, but truly worth every penny. Just look at those colours! That grain! There really is nothing like it.
Some of my absolute favourite images I’ve ever captured have been on film. In fact, I love it so much that I almost exclusively shoot my family on 35mm film. This is because not only do I adore the outcome, but I also have no desire to edit my personal photos, and rarely will prioritize it over client work. Shooting my family on film also allows me to be present, shooting just an image or two and then bringing myself back to whatever special moment we’re sharing.
Which brings me back to the purpose of this journal post– why film? I’ve shared a few reasons why I adore this beautiful medium, but let’s chat about why I continue to shoot film for client work, even though it’s so darn expensive.
Film has made me a better observer of light.
My skills have grown exponentially since I first picked up my film camera just over two years ago, by teaching me to see light in a way that I never really had to with digital. In order to not waste entire rolls by simply experimenting in what I hoped was good light, film has taught me to study the light, find which lightening I most enjoy shooting in, and master that. Of course I still make mistakes, and some rolls come back less than magical, but by slowing down to observe my lighting conditions, making thoughtful choices as I shoot, and learning from my mistakes, I’ve become more in control of the end result of my images.
Film has made me a more thoughtful, more intentional shooter.
It’s easy to nail a shot with digital when you’re firing off your camera as fast as your finger can physically click the shutter. That is actually one reason I’ll never abandon digital completely– shooting toddlers can be crazy fast-paced, and digital is simply more up for the job, in my opinion. But, when it comes to composing images in a thoughtful way, film takes the cake for me. Rather than shooting a few images, checking the back of my camera and then adjusting my clients, film encourages me to anticipate the moment I want to capture and then make it happen. There is far less room for error with film (unless you don’t mind wasting entire rolls to nail one magical moment), so I’ve become more purposeful in my posing. This slower pace also allows me to spend more time connecting with my clients and less time staring down at my camera screen, which is important for seeing and capturing those genuine connections.
Film creates magical skin tones.
Glowing, natural, soft and just down right beautiful.
I am extremely picky about skin tones in my images, wanting them to be perfectly natural and true-to-life. That said, this is arguably one of the harder parts about editing people and something I’ve spent hours obsessing over. Seriously, who knew the slightest adjustment in tint could have one staring at two basically identical images for hours?! If you’re a photographer, you totally get this.
But film, when shot in the right light, creates perfect skin tones. No more obsessing over whether they’re too green, too magenta, too cool or too warm. I rarely second guess my film edits, and that not only frees up hours of my time, it also allows me to trust myself and my work.
Which leads me to my final reason for shooting film (though I could go on and on and on!)
Film gives me back so. much. time.
Just like how I shoot the majority of my personal work on film, I love being able to shoot film for the simple fact of… less time spent editing. Which is, quite honestly, one of my least favourite parts of the job. This frees me up to do so many other things– spend time with my family, be more hands-on with my clients, work on education and dreaming big dreams and generally just excelling in other areas of life.
So yes, film can be costly. But what it costs in money, I surely get back in time (and beautiful skin tones and beautifully fine-art images and all the rest), and so I will continue to love this old school way of capturing my clients’ (and my own!) memories.
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