Why I now shoot Wedding and Portraits on Film

Why after an eight year hiatus have I gone back to shooting film? There is no one quick answer for this, so make a cup of coffee and get comfy J

I have shot weddings, engagement sessions and portraits professionally using digital for just over 10 years now but prior to going fulltime with my photography, I only shot on film using cameras like the incredible Nikon FM2 and Nikon F5. Once I went full time and with the massive leaps in technology digital cameras had made, digital seemed the way to go. It was almost a given that when customers contacted me, they assumed their photos would be shot on a digital camera. From this point, my film shooting literally fell off a cliff and during the 10 years shooting digital, I probably picked up a film camera, maybe half a dozen times!

Fast forward to now and a few things have dawned on me of late. I simply prefer the ‘look’ that film delivers, you can get close to it with digital but it’s never quite the same, it’s always left wanting a little. The digital workflow although hugely convenient also had a massive disadvantage, the majority of the photos I shot would never see the light of day in print. They would go from a memory card in the camera to my desktop to edit and then uploaded to dropbox for the client to download and most likely view and share them on their mobile phone and social media. Some clients would indeed purchase an album, but in the main it is pretty much certain that the photos would be viewed on computers, tablets and phones.

This leads me onto how people view images now. My two children aged 7 and 6, instinctively view things on digital devices by swiping their finger across the glass to scroll to the next photo and this is what made my mind up to go back to film in all honesty, the joy that looking at real photos taken on film and printed on photo paper can bring! Something that I had all but forgotten for the previous 10 years! Talking about my children, I had this sudden realisation that virtually every photo I had ever taken of them was on a hard drive, phone or cloud storage somewhere, we literally had very few prints. I know we could print from the digital files but I think I just needed to break the digital workflow process in my mind and go back to how I used to do it, shoot, process, print and archive.

When I would shoot a wedding with a second photographer, we would typically shoot around 4000 photos between us, of which after spending hours culling them, would result in around 500 ‘keepers’ that would then be edited and delivered to the customer. I was definitely guilty of taking photos of something in the hope that it turned into an image, as opposed to photographing things when they happen. This is one of the biggest differences I find shooting film, you only have a finite number of photos on each roll so you choose your shots more carefully and for me, I find my creativity increasing because of this.

Instant gratification! In the world we live in now, from clothes shopping online to ordering a takeaway meal to taking an image with a camera, we expect it to be there right away. This is ok but the real pleasure I got all those years ago was the suspense and anticipation waiting for your prints to be returned from the lab. It was an incredible feeling after keeping exposed film rolls in the fridge for a few months so you had enough rolls to justify the postage to send them off and then finally viewing them sometimes months after them being taken.

So back to the original question, why have I gone back to shooting film? The entire film process was what I fell in love with all those years ago. From the look of the finished product to the slower more methodical way in which photos were taken, the anticipation of waiting for the prints to arrive and most importantly looking at physical prints and passing them around to friends and family. This in a nutshell is why I have gone back to film for my personal and professional photography.

If you got this far, you deserve a medal!!

Thank you for dropping by.