Why I love shooting film at weddings

In a few days I am going to blog about whether film photography is undergoing a renaissance but for now I wanted to explain to my couples present and indeed prospectively why I shoot film for love stories (couple/engagement/proposal sessions) and at weddings wherever I can.

It may seem bizarre thing to do, after all I have two excellent digital SLRs (Nikon D750s) which are everything you need to both be a wedding photographer and take amazing photos.

Ok here’s a few reasons I shoot film from a recent trip to France with some friends. These were shot on a camera that cost me about £30 five years ago (admittedly with a lens that cost about 10 times that):

Each of the photos above roughly cost me 45p to take to buy the roll of film and to eventually get the digital photos back.

These were all taken at the start of February in France around Nantes / La Rochelle and you can see that even for what is a colder time of year, the skin tones are just so pleasing to the eye. A look that sometimes gets called creamy.

Those couples looking for a wedding photographer or a couple/engagement/proposal session photographer (what I personally call love shoots) may see the difference in film photos, but a lot of people may scratch their heads as to why anybody would go out of their way to take photos on a harder to use medium in some respects, especially if you can get pretty close to the look with digital sometimes.

That is the key, you can only get close and I can say this with some confidence as a hybrid digital/film shooter, nothing will ever really match film in the right conditions other than film.

There are plenty of occasions where I use digital cameras where the result I feel would be compromised on film (low light for example where you don’t have the time to set up lighting), and this is where I am leading towards – I use digital for its strengths, and film for its strengths as I see them.

So let’s focus on where film works for me on the wedding day and why I love shooting it so much.

I have been working film into my weddings since the beginning of 2015 building it up steadily and now my packages and pricing reflect that my aesthetic is largely derived from the fact I shoot film at almost all weddings and love sessions.

Firstly I love film because it has taught me to be a more disciplined and better photographer.

But much more excitingly it’s about the colour. Have a look at those photos above, the colour is utterly gorgeous, but looks very natural. Not oversaturated, but still colourful, skin tones just look yum on film, there’s a real depth to them that sometimes the pixel perfect nature of digital squeezes out in its technical perfection.

I love the soft look, they’re not without contrast, there are shadows but the way the light seems to wrap around people and gives a soft glow. If you zoom into the photos 100% on screen you will see they are quite soft compared to digital photos but then you probably won’t want to print an 8×10″ print of just your nose.

For me a photograph is not just about sharpness, or details, it’s about the content within the frame and the overall aesthetic of the picture when looked at printed, either in a book, album or as a mantelpiece print. And film just produces wonderful photos in the right light.

Sure digital is more ‘perfect’ technically and when the light begins to fade is much better to work with and largely you can get a similar result, but it will never quite have the same rich tonality I see in film photos.

I will never stop shooting digital at weddings, it definitely has a place, but for me when I turn up to your love session or wedding, I’ll have a little stockpile of gold or green boxes and I just know that what is captured on those reels of film will be very precious indeed.

And there is one other quality about film I love. I am a big fan of cinema, and its processes. I grew up watching films from the Hollywood Golden Age, through to the modern day and even now I take a bit of pleasure working out what film stock may or may not have been used. Because my style is very much about a storytelling, documentary style but with fashion editorial inspired portraiture, film gives a look that reminds me of the cinema, and its that cinematic quality wrapped up in the look which means I just love working with it.

And it’s such a joy to share that passion with you. Why not take a look at this recent Venice love session I photographed entirely on film, and I have another similar session coming soon.


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