Now, before you ask, YES, people do still shoot film.
When we bring our film gear to shoots, guests and couples are fairly surprised that film is still sold let alone shot. For those of you unfamiliar with the trend, it hasn't really gone away and has seen such a huge surge in wedding photographers, thanks to film photographer legends like Jose Villa, KT Merry, and Elizabeth Messina. If you haven't heard their names directly, I can guarantee that if you're pinning to a wedding Pinterest board, you have at least one of those artists in there.
Modern film stocks, when shot correctly, have a light, airy quality without loosing details in the light and dark areas. Digital has a tendency to blow out highlights, loosing details like lace in a wedding gown. The most popular film stocks (brands of film) are the Fuji 400H and Kodak Portra 400. I know there are dozens more, including B&W films, but for now, I'll just touch on the basic ones.
We have a few reasons why we are integrating more film into our work-
One// We love the way it looks. It just looks, well, dreamy. It's grainy, light goodness is hard to replicate in digital. We have a fabulous workflow that allows us to color our digital to match the film we shoot, but there is something so beautiful about the fallout (bokeh) and charm of a film photograph.
Two// Film forces a photographer to slow down, make sure the shot is correct, and then press the button. After the cost of buying film and then the cost of developing, scanning, and color correcting through a professional film lab, each frame needs to be a conscious decision. You have to be quick to access the light, location, details, and inform the couple to slow down and enjoy the moment. Digital is amazing in the fact that you (Obviously!) have as many shots as you have card space and can take multiple shots. Laughter, dancing, walking, candids, and low light situations are perfect for digital, while some of our favorite portraits and detail shots are film.
Three// The color correcting is done for you! Just choose your preferred film stock and work with an amazing lab. There are some stellar labs out there, where you can set up a color profile of your unique style and coloring and they do the rest! Our lab is The FIND lab based in Orem Utah- brainchild of crazy amazing photographer Jonathan Canlas. They recently added digital coloring as part of their services, so if you shoot a few rolls and send in your digital, their team of developers and editors will match your colors seamlessly so you have a cohesive wedding ready to deliver to you. Other great labs include Richards Photo Lab (preferred lab of Jose Villa, Kt Merry, & Elizabeth Messina), Indie Film Lab, FilmBox, Alpine Film Lab, Photovision lab (used by the amazing Erich McVey!) and many more around the world.
My tips for shooting film are- JUST SHOOT. Take a roll with you on your next shoot. Explain to the couple that you are shooting film and just do it. Read up from other film photographers on how they shoot, rate their film, what cameras to use, what quality of light to look for, etc.
Kirk Mastin & Jonathan Canlas both have informative q&a sections on their websites and blogs, and when you send in your film, ask your lab to help you by critiquing it. They want to help you improve and grow as an artist. Jose Villa, Elizabeth Messina, and Jen Huang have gorgeous printed books that you can drool over, highlight, and dog-ear.
Hopefully this blog post helps both photographers and brides understand why we shoot film, and why others are following suite. It is a beautiful medium and with combing it with our digital workflow, is the perfect way to capture wedding day memories.