Long before the invention of the digital camera and the smartphone, photographers have been documenting beauty and timeless memories on film. You may (or may not) remember a time before the digital camera, where you would buy rolls of film for your 35mm camera, gently roll it in the camera back, and carefully compose each frame, knowing that you had to trust your instincts and technical expertise, because looking at the back of your camera simply was not an option. The invention of the digital camera completely revolutionized the photography industry and changed the way that photographers work. For many, because of the concept of instant gratification and the ability to shoot tens of thousands of frames during one single event in hopes that 800 or so images are salvageable, the fine art and craftsmanship of photography has been lost. However, thanks to industry leaders like Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina, the art of film photography has had a huge resurgence over the past decade, with many of the world’s best photographers opting out of digital photography and instead, choosing the timeless craft of film.
Many couples reach out to me and express that they love the softness, the romance, the ethereal quality of my images, and more often than not, after talking with them and educating them a bit more about photography, they realize that what they love so much about my work is film. I include both film and digital photography in all wedding packages, as they both have their own unique benefits, however, film is by far my medium of choice and is what gives my work its distinctive painterly-quality. Interested in learning a little bit more about film versus digital photography? A few of the reasons that I love film are:
Color & Softness: Film is absolutely incredible when it comes to capturing skin tones resulting in creamy, warm colors and soft, glowing skin. I almost never have to retouch my film, because it doesn’t have that high-definition quality that digital can have where every pore and imperfection are present. Film has a depth and vibrancy that personally, I have never been able to replicate with digital. I have always been inspired by Impressionism, and the pastel colors rendered by film give my work that dreamy feel which I have always admired in works by Monet and Renoir.
Artful Composition: With film, images are thoughtfully composed and carefully crafted to capture special moments artfully and with purpose. Each shot a film photographer takes literally costs them money, so because of that, it requires them to be so much more intentional about their work. The slower, more deliberate quality of film means that I am truly present in each and every moment and that throughout the wedding day you have so many more moments to just take a 20-second break and kiss, talk, and soak it all in.
Timelessness: Like with all new technology, things are constantly changing. The moment I bought my digital camera it immediately depreciated in value, however, every year film cameras actually appreciate. Trends come and go, but film has and will always remain the same – a beautiful, timeless, and tactile medium.
Tonal Range: During bright lighting situations where there is a large difference between the areas of an image being touched by the sun and the areas in the shade, a film negative has the ability to capture so much more detail than a digital camera in a beautiful and flattering way – shadows are softer and highlights are less blown-out. Simply put, a film negative soaks up the light in a way that a digital camera simply cannot.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on a few of the benefits of digital photography. A digital camera can snap dozens of images in seconds, so during fast-moving moments like when the bride is walking down the aisle, I always make sure to snap several images on my digital camera to ensure that I get one great photo of her during that very emotional moment that is over in the blink of an eye. A digital camera also has the ability to easily take images in low-light situations, versus with film, I have to either shoot with a flash and/or black & white film. In a dark ceremony or reception, I lean more heavily towards my digital camera to ensure that I’m able to beautifully capture the entire day – even the moments that aren’t well-lit. Lastly, my digital camera has two memory cards, and by shooting both film and digital throughout a wedding day I am essentially making three backups of your priceless memories – something which you may not worry about but for me as a photographer is of the utmost importance.
Ultimately, for me, it’s all about choosing the right tool for each and every moment, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that your wedding images are timeless heirlooms that you will pass down for generations to come. Interested in seeing the difference between digital and film? The below comparisons show the beautiful softness and color of film that quite simply cannot be replicated with a digital camera.
FILM (Left) versus DIGITAL (Right)
Film images taken on Contax 645 with Fuji 400H film and scanned by Richard Photo Lab | Digital images taken with Canon 5D Mark IV and 50mm 1.2 lens