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Why I Don’t Shoot Film

August 15, 2017

why I don't shoot film. digital wedding photographer. Texas wedding photographer. Why I don’t shoot film | Texas Wedding Photographer

Film is becoming more and more popular. It handles highlights so beautifully, and you don’t have to edit it! I admire film photographers, but I know it is not right for me and my business, and it may not be right for you, either. Here’s why:

I’m paranoid About Losing images!

This one is SUCH a deal-breaker! On my Canon camera bodies I can “write” to two memory cards at once. If one fails me, the other one will have the images safely on it. Then I immediately upload them to my laptop after the wedding. So, I have 3 copies of each photo at that point. I’m a little paranoid about keeping wedding images safe, because you can’t redo those photos! With film, there is a chance that it can get destroyed. There is also a chance that the camera doesn’t function properly, and you wouldn’t even know it! If my digital camera has an error I know immediately. It also gives me anxiety just thinking about MAILING film to the film lab! I don’t have that much trust in the postal system! I’ve had packages get lost before, and I would die if wedding images got lost in the mail! *Cue the wedding nightmares* southwest school of art wedding 88

Missing Moments

Rolling film takes time. If I had to change my memory card every time I took 36 images, I would be pausing every few minutes to change my card. Rolling film takes longer than changing a card!  On the other hand, film shooters are very intentional with their work, so they take fewer images, but they’re all stunning. My style includes those in-between moments of imperfection, and I like it that way. I’ve done a couple of ceremonies that were EXTREMELY short–Like less than 4 minutes. Moments could have easily been missed had I been shooting film. Earth Day Wedding Inspiration at Cherokee Rose Venue in Boerne Texas by Allison Jeffers Wedding Photography 0064


During wedding season (our wedding season in Texas is about 9 months out of the year!) I photograph weddings almost every weekend. Sometimes I shoot two in one weekend. At this rate, I like delivering my images 1-2 weeks after the wedding. Otherwise I get WAY behind and grumpy(Poor Jason LOL). With film, this isn’t an option. It usually takes a few weeks to get images back from the lab. Then you have to edit your digital images (if you’re a hybrid photographer) to match the film. I would rather edit a thousand digital images in one afternoon(all while providing sneak peeks on my blog 3 days after the wedding!) than make my couples wait 4-8 weeks to even see a peek of their wedding photos! No one (except the couple) is even interested by that point, and the wedding is old news.

I Over-shoot!

During wedding ceremonies and receptions I shoot at least 2 or 3 frames per image. I don’t want to risk blinking eyes, blur, or weird facial expressions. I upload between 3,000-6,000 images PER WEDDING! With film, you have to be more mindful of the perfect time and the perfect exposure. That means missing some great moments. Wedding days are fast-paced, and I know my limits. I shoot in RAW digital so if something cute is happening, I don’t have to worry (AS much) about having the perfect settings. Example: This photo took me [way] more than one shutter click to get. Pearl Stable Hotel Emma Engagement Session by San Antonio Wedding Photographer Allison Jeffers 0002


Since I AM an over-shooter, cost is another huge deal-breaker for me. Digital storage is SO cheap (I can get at least 1200 images on one SD card), but one click on a film camera means $2-$4! Per image! Mastin presets are amazing and can be edited to match film almost exactly, so if I did want my images to look like film, I would go that route!

Aesthetic and Consistency

I think film is beautiful, but it doesn’t fit my brand or style. I love images that are light and airy, but have COLOR and beautiful skin tones. Keep in mind that light has everything to do with skin tones! I will admit that when I hang around film photographers I get caught up in the romance of film, but I pinch myself and quickly come back to reality where consistency in my business is more important than me trying to experiment with film. By the time I became an efficient film shooter, the trend of the wedding world would have moved on.CW Hill Country Ranch Boerne Texas Wedding 0037.jpg

Manual Focus

I just can’t. That’s all. HA!!! I can’t risk missing moments because my focus is off.

My Couples are Not Models.

This goes back to the cost of film. It takes about 20-30 minutes for couples to warm up to the camera. As I said before, I take a LOT of photos! I average about 500 per engagement session because I do a lot of posing with movement, and about 1/3 of those are keepers. I love giving my couples a ton of options to choose from! I can’t justify the cost of film when I could easily edit them with a Mastin preset that would look almost exactly like film.A Backyard Dusty Blue and Peach New Braunfels Texas Wedding by Allison Jeffers Wedding Photography 0079

Flash Photography

Night Portraits and receptions would be impossible since I have a hate-hate relationship with on camera flash.A Backyard San Antonio Italian Wedding by Allison Jeffers Wedding Photography Night Portrait 0094

“Be A Flamingo in a Flock of Pigeons!”

I’m not saying film photographers are pigeons. They may be a flock of peacocks or some other pretty bird, but all Fuji 400 film looks the same. Portraits 800 looks just like another roll of Portra 800. When someone looks at my photos I want them to be able to tell that I took them! When you look at Style Me Pretty’s Instagram account you will see exactly what I’m talking about. Every image looks like it was shot by the same photographer, and they like it that way. More and more wedding blogs are exclusively sharing film images or film-like images, but what about the brides who don’t want muted colors or grain? There are a LOT of them out there! Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons


Let me reiterate: This is why I don’t shoot film. There are thousands of photographers who do, and some of them are very good at it. This is just how MY brain and business work :) I would love to hear your thoughts about film and digital photography! Feel Free to leave a comment below.



xoxo, Allison

  1. Breanna

    August 15th, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I’ve seen several of these post pop up. “Why I don’t shoot film, why I do shoot film. Why my traditional colors is better than the ‘looks like film’ muted tones, Why I like posing, why I like un-posing. Why I hate mastin labs, why I love mastin labs,” etc. etc. etc.

    I am honestly trying to understand the reason behind them. They seem belittling of other artist and their choice of creating. Not speaking directly about the several posts I’ve seen like yours speaking directly about film, but more inclusive to how all photographers feel the need to prove why their artistic and business choices make them better, smarter, superior to other niches in our industry. This happens a lot in how film groups dish on the ‘looks like film community’. It happens a lot when ‘fearless photographers’ look at reception work of the ‘light and airy’ photographer, it happens when alot when in-person sales photography tell the digital file photographer that they are leaving money on the table.

    We are friends, and I’m not saying to shoot film. :) this post isn’t personal towards you. I don’t even shoot film beyond my own creative project(aka-non-client work) to learn and expand my understanding of light. But I’ve seen so many of these now and it always leaves me feeling- why the need to share posts like this? Do your client ask about film? Most brides are not photographers and can’t even tell the difference and don’t look at photography with an eye of a photographer. “Light and airy” all looks the same to them. They just want to ensure their wedding can be delivered with the consistent imagery on their photographers websites. Who cares what tools another photographer use to get there?

  2. admin

    August 15th, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Thankyou for your input, breanna! I agree, most brides can’t tell the difference between film and non film (this is why I refer my brides to even film photographers when I’m already booked). This post was geared toward photographers. I guess I should have made that more prominent ????. I have many friends who either shoot film or want to learn. They ask me all the time why I don’t do it, so here’s the answer!
    I’m definitely not aiming to belittle. I have high respect for film photographers because they can handle those 10 things I listed like a beast. But I can’t get past #1 lol.

  3. Breanna

    August 15th, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I am glad that you, (unlike many out there) can still appreciate someone else’s business model and shooting style without it being your own. There is a lot to learn from people that do things differently. It is unfortunate when we get so stuck in our ways that we refuse to try new things and learn an entirely different side of a creative world. Film, Fearless, Looks Like Film, LXC, Mystic, Showit, etc communities all have something to teach. I do think each one of these points have a solution. Which is why film might be making a resurgence (or to even show us now how it worked so well before digital even existed.) But it is about the priorities in your business and what pros/cons you are wanting/willing to work with.

    I’ve never had a bride of photographer ask me why I don’t shoot film. Even while living in Austin. But I understand this post more if you are constantly getting those questions. :) Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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