There is a certain quality about old school film that just can’t be replicated with digital photography, no matter what film preset you use. Trust me I’ve tried! So every now and again I dig out my old Minolta film camera and run some rolls through it, just to make sure it still works … and of course the allure of shooting film.
There are a few reasons to love film. The characteristics of film itself is the huge selling point – pastel colour tones of the film stock and bokeh effect (depth of field and the dramatic difference between whats in focus and what’s out of focus) of the images would have to my biggest reason. You definitely need patience to shoot film. Patience is the thing that I both hate and love about shooting film. You can’t look in the back of your camera’s screen to see what you captured, you can’t just go home and download the images to your computer. You have to send the rolls of film off to the lab for processing and then wait around 2 weeks to see your images. Yet at the same time I love that and the excitement and anticipation while waiting to see the photos. The other thing I love about film is workflow.
Digital photography is very labour intensive. After you have spent how many ever hours shooting, and for me as a wedding photographer, my wedding days are typically 14+ hours by the time I travel to the wedding, shoot for 10-12 hours, and then I come home and spend another 1 hour to download the files from my memory cards to the computer, and then back it all up. But it doesn’t stop there. I then spend another 16-24 hours culling what I have captured down to a more manageable amount of images to deliver to the couple, editing the digital files because despite how advanced technology is, the digital file is quite flat and needs some editing to enhance and improve the image. This can include correcting exposures, white balance, and colours and so on. For many photographers, editing also includes adding tone/mood, to create their unique style/look. Time spend as a digital photographer also includes blogging and marketing each wedding, as this is our way of advertising and attracting new clients to keep us in business and putting food on our plates, pay bills and so on. In total, wedding photographers generally spend around 30-38 hours per couple! That is a typical work week spend on each and every couple.
Whereas the workflow for shooting film is a lot less. With film, you go and and shoot then send off the rolls of film to a processing lab where they scan and process the film. They send it back to you and all you have to do is cull a few of the images if they weren’t in focus or not exposed correctly. In total, a film wedding photographer generally spends around 15-16 hours per wedding – half the time of a digital wedding photographer. Dramatically less because there isn’t as much time sitting at the computer editing because the lab does that part for you.
You might think the easy answer is too shoot weddings on film. But there are some drawbacks, big drawbacks in fact. You have to purchase the rolls of film and pay for the film to be developed, and that is an added cost which would have to be passed on to the client. With film, you can’t look at the back of your camera to check to see if the image was captured, if it was exposed property or if it was in focus, so there is a huge element of risk and the stress while you wait for the return of your film from the lab which generally takes 2 weeks to set your mind at ease. There is also the risk of the film going missing when being freighted to the processing lab. There aren’t too many labs even left in Australia, so you can’t run down to your local lab and hand it over the counter. And not forgetting, the couple have trusted you with the privilege of capturing moments of their special day, a day that can’t be repeated if you stuff up the film. Im guessing you are getting the picture. In my opinion of the risk of shooting weddings on film is just too damn risky and stressful for me.
But that is why I like to play with film every so often. Actually Id like to play more and thats the plan for 2017, but then I say that every year .. haha
Even though these aren’t wedding photos, I’d still like to share some of the images I captured over the last couple of months.
The camera used was a Minolta D7 35mm film camera that I have owned for well over 15 years. I do also own a Mamiya 645 Medium Format film camera but its more cumbersome as it a chunkier camera body, manually operated camera and takes 120 film which takes a maximum of around 12 frames per roll. Where as the Minolta is a 35mm smaller camera body that I can throw in my handbag to just have handy, and the rolls take around 36 frames per roll.
Id have to add that as a plus for film too. You can pick up an old film camera relatively cheap or maybe a freebie from a relative whose had it laying around for years. The cost outlay to get you started shooting film is quite cheap compared to purchasing a digital camera kit once you buy the camera, lenses, batteries and a computer. Rolls of film vary from around $8+ depending on the film stock you use and where you purchase it from. It can be hard to buy in shops, so your best bet is to shop online.
First up Im sharing my colour film images. These were shot on Fuji 400H film stock. Im totally in love with the pastel tones of this film!
The first few frames I took while out in Chinchilla for work a trip and the others were taken in my parents Sydney backyard over the Christmas holidays. With the exception of the banana trees photo, it was taken as I made a detour on my drive back from Sydney to Brisbane and I just thought Id love to photograph a bride and groom amongst the banana tree forest.
Next up Im sharing my black & white film images. With so many versions of black & white evolving in digital photography these days, I love b&w film for it being simple pure black & white and a bit contrasty with some good old fashioned grain for texture.
The first frame was taken in my apartment of some street art I photographed in New York by a talented street artist. The images are in colour on my wall and look amazing, but I also love the graphic nature of them in black & white.
The next lot of frames are from a photo walk I did with a photographer friend as we walked the streets of Fortitude Valley. I managed to snap her at the lights looking all very mysterious with her funky shades to hide her eyes from the hot sun :). Fortitude Valley is a photographers paradise with the laneways, billboard posters, street art, and eclectic shopfronts.
I really loved the bar with the cleverly created art with the “We regret to inform you we are no longer a brothel” sign which Im sure has a lot of truth to it.
And this picture wall dedicated to some of the great music artists of our time such as David Bowie.
The last of the b&w frames were again taken while road tripping around the countryside on my way out to Chinchilla for work. There is a photography reference to my Paxton letterbox photo as Paxton’s is a well known name in the photography community. Paxton’s have been around over 100 years opening it’s Sydney store in 1908 as opticians and branching out into selling cameras in 1957. Im not sure if this Paxton letterbox belongs to the camera Paxton’s but I drove past and came back to get the photo because sometimes for whatever reason, you just have to take a photo for the sheer fun of it.