We love film photography, and we have loved shooting it for JoPhoto since 2013 when Kathleen’s dad gave her a 1950s Mamiya 35mm camera. We began slowly incorporating film into weddings and photo shoots, and it’s always an interesting topic when people ask “what is that camera?” or “why do you shoot film?”
Most people think film is outdated or old school, or it’s dead or a lost art. But in fact, film photography is resurging and really picking up speed in the wedding photography industry! Some of the top wedding photographers in the world shoot film, and it’s their preferred medium.
We shoot both digital and film at weddings and engagement sessions. We have a medium format 120 mm film camera that we use most of the time (see the photo below of our Contax 645), and we also have various 35 mm cameras.
Why film vs. digital?
Film gives a timeless look to wedding images taken in daylight that is difficult to reproduce with digital. But don’t get us wrong, there are times where digital is better than film, such as night time receptions indoors! Here are a few reasons we choose to shoot film in addition to digital.
- Feeling – Some people call film photos more romantic and airy, others love it because of the grain in the photos, the depth of the images, and the highlights you get with film. And some say they like film because it has more of an organic and nostalgic look. Irregardless, film has a softer feel than digital photos.
- Color – The colors on film are beautiful! It also has so much more of a dynamic range of color in daylight than digital. And the prints have a beautiful, rich texture and color. On the other hand, film is unable to capture clean images in low light (i.e., indoor receptions, or at night) without a flash, tripod, or long shutter. So for weddings, film is great for outdoor photos and pictures during the day, and digital is great for indoor photos and pictures at night.
- Highlights – Film has more latitude with exposure. A lot of times with digital you lose the highlights in photos (i.e., the sky, lace in the white wedding dress), but in film, you can overexpose and you won’t lose them. This is very important for weddings because we are photographing a white wedding gown all day long.
- Time – Because it costs money to purchase film and get it developed and scanned by the lab, it forces us to slow down and be more thoughtful of each photo that we take because we pay for each shot. So, instead of taking thousands of digital photos – more thought goes into each photo that we take on film. It also saves us time when we’re editing because the photos are nearly perfect when we receive the digital scans back from our lab. That enables us to get photos back to clients faster. We spend less time in the office editing, and more time doing other things like shooting!
A few articles about film vs. digital
Examples of images we have recently shot on film
- A mountain bridal shoot in the river of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Engagement photos at Canyon Lake in Phoenix, AZ.
- A spring bridal portrait session at Legare Waring House in Charleston, SC.
- A lowcountry boil engagement party in Charleston, SC.