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:
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*
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.
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 two 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.
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.
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!
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. 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.
I just can’t. That’s all. HA!!! I can’t risk missing moments because my focus is off.
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.
Night Portraits and receptions would be impossible since I have a hate-hate relationship with on camera flash.
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!
Let me reiterate: This is why I don’t shoot film. There are thousands of photographers who do, and most 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.
Allison Jeffers is a photographer and educator serving sweet brides and helping other creative entrepreneurs reach their goals. She specializes in wedding photography and proposals as well as Bridal and Engagement portraits in Texas. She is available for travel worldwide and has her passport ready!