When I was starting my photography business, I was assisting the brilliantly, talented photographer Heather Nan in Salt Lake City. As we were driving in the car together, she asked me who my favorite photographers were. I listed off a handful of people whose style I could only dream of someday replicating. Heather responded by saying that I must enjoy film photography since all the photographers I had just listed shot in primarily film. WHAT?? I had no idea that the style I loved so much was actually achieved by using a medium other then digital. I promptly dismissed the thought. I was just starting out in photography and still trying to learn everything I could about my new digital camera. I didn’t want to throw in learning film photography too.
A few years later, I found myself stuck. I didn’t love my editing style and I felt like I had learned all I could learn about digital photography. I remembered the conversation I had with Heather and decided to educate myself in the medium of film. For so long I had desperately tried to get my digital work to look like it was shot on film. There are a number of “film” presets out there that you can slap onto your digital images to replicate the film style. But I felt it wasn’t the same, so I decided to learn the real thing. After a mentoring session to learn all the film basics and shoot my first couple rolls, I got the scans back from the lab and was AMAZED!
The way film creates depth is incredible. It was like looking at a piece of art. Film retains all the details in the highlights while also keeping the details in the blacks. I could shoot in full sun and nothing would blow out! And the colors I got were unlike anything I had ever had with my digital images or with the “film” presets I used to edit. I was instantly hooked.
After years of incorporating film into my work, I now call myself a hybrid photographer, which means I shoot in both film and digital. So why hybrid photography rather then just going all film or all digital? Here are my 2 main reasons.
As I mentioned above, film is the look I’d been trying to replicate in my digital work for years but never had any success because I didn’t have a reference. Now that I shoot hybrid, I have film images that I can match my digital images too! It keeps everything cohesive while also keeping my costs low. Film can cost you about $2 a frame so you want to choose wisely what you photograph. But despite the extra cost, shooting film is worth it because I’ve been able to achieve the style I wanted AND I’ve been able to raise my prices to appeal to a higher budget client. Film just looks high end! It’s awesome.
As a wedding photographer, I like the safety net of having digital copies of my film images. As great of care as I take of my film scans, if anything were to ever happen to them I have digital backups. And as wonderful as film is, sometimes it isn’t the best medium for the job. Film thrives on the natural light available. If it’s a dark reception, or just a dreary day outside, film may not be the best choice. Digital handles low light really well so unless I’m willing to spend the time setting up a ton of artificial lighting, digital is the better way to go. Digital is also great when quick moments are happening like unexpended reactions or killer dance moves.
I know that as a professional, it’s my job to deliver the best quality product that I can provide. Sometimes that’s with film and sometimes that with digital. I love providing the best of both worlds to my clients!
If you are feeling stuck in your digital photography, maybe it’s time to add in something new. I’ve taught hybrid photography to many, and I can teach you too! Check out my info on mentoring!
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