This is by far the most frequent question I get asked as a Fine Art Film photographer! It’s a topic I could talk about for hours. First and foremost, I want to say that I LOVE all mediums of photography, and regardless of the medium I use to capture love and create art, it’s ultimately about delivering the highest quality of work I can to my clients.
There is a need for digital in my workflow as well, and I would never shoot 100% film at a wedding for many reasons. (Follow up post on coming soon on this!) I won’t bore you with a long story of how I started with film, switched to all digital then went back to film. But here’s the truth. Film has taught me to be a better photographer, artist, and communicator with my subjects. Hands down. With digital, I can rely too much on what I am seeing on that little screen and you become dependent on it. I would spend less time trying to nail the exposure in camera, but relied on post-editing to “perfect” it.
With film, I have to be much more intentional with each click of the shutter. Medium format film is quite expensive; therefore, you are very aware of the cost involved, and overshooting is not an option! I am much more attentive to the composition, the background, the angle, the light, and ultimately, the moment. Client experience is my number one priority, and when I am not continuously clicking the shutter, I am able to spend more time interacting and connecting with my clients, resulting in more honest work. That is what matters most.
Shooting with film has also taught me to be as accurate and precise as possible. Timing is everything and learning to SEE the scene and click the shutter at just the right moment without relying on a digital camera’s ability to shoot 10 frames per second and so on. I absolutely love the simplicity of the medium format film camera I use. Only settings I have to change while shooting is the aperture and the shutter speed. That’s it.
I have always been enamored with light, and how the right light can transform a scene or portrait into something extraordinary. Film LOVES LIGHT. Film has so much latitude, and it allows me to shoot in the midday sun while still retaining all of the detail in the highlights and shadows. Film is less contrasty and has an ethereal feeling behind it. Film is also very forgiving on the skin and by metering correctly, the tones are perfection without any post-processing. (Side-note: YES, I can fine-tune edit film, as I receive it as a digital scan!) The colors and tones of film are unmatched in digital cameras.
Communicating my film processing preferences with the team at my lab, (Photovision Prints), means less time in front of the computer screen editing! This is a HUGE time-saver, and allows me to focus more on my art, and my client.
In closing, one of my favorite aspects of shooting film is the EXPERIENCE I get to share with my clients. We live in such a digitized and instant gratification world, and it’s such an honor to share the beauty of film photography. The timelessness of film, the beauty of the film on print, and the surprise of seeing the film scans! It gives us something to talk about and appreciate together. It’s all about trust! The trust and confidence they put in me, and the trust and confidence I put in myself to capture everything “blindly”, using not only my skills but my heart and my eye.