Film Friday: Why We Still Shoot Film Photography by Nick & Emily

Today’s Film Friday blog post comes from Nick and Emily, a Grand Rapids based, husband and wife portrait and wedding photography team with a passion for love, marriage, and creativity.

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As Hybrid Wedding Photographers (that means we shoot both digitally and with traditional film, not that we drive a Prius), a question we get asked all the time is “Why are you still shooting film?”. It’s typically paired with other questions like “Is film photography still a thing?”, “Isn’t digital photography better” or “Do they even still make film”.

First of all, yes they still make film (Thank God!!). In fact today’s professional film is better than it ever has been. The fact that recent movies like Star Wars Force Awakens were shot on Kodak film is a testament to the capabilities and beauty of today’s film. So put it this way, we aren’t shooting the stuff your grandparents shot, however we may be using their camera.

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The next question to come up is “is digital better than film” or vice versa. The simple answer to either way of asking this is… no. Just as one might prefer the crisp, clean sound of a digital song, another may prefer a classic vinyl record for its depth, tone and warmth. In the same way digital photography gives way to predictable, clean and precise results, while film brings in a warm beautiful imperfection that often times speaks to the romance of a scene.

With that being said, lets get into the nitty gritty of why we still choose to use film for so many occasions.

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The Look

Like we mentioned above, much like the distinct crackle of a vinyl record, film brings a beautiful imperfection to the look and feel of our images. The gentle grain and soft organic colors of film truly add a dimension to our artwork that our couples have come to adore. Even when we are shooting digitally we try hard to recreate this look as best as possible in our editing, but there is still nothing quite like the real deal.

Our specific tone and colors come from our all time favorite film stocks from Kodak Alaris. We shoot exclusively with their professional PORTRA 160 & PORTRA 400 film stocks for our color work. We absolutely LOVE these film stocks!! They gives us the grain, color, tone and over all romance we look for in our photos. Our film fridge (yes we have a refrigerator dedicated entirely to film, thats how much we love it) is constantly stocked with these two films. If we were forced to shoot on just PORTRA 400 for the rest of eternity, we would be completely fine with that! In fact… hey Kodak Alaris, we are open to the idea of a sponsorship to make that happen 😉 😉 Lol

Film isn’t the only factor playing into our signature look. The various formats and sizes of cameras we shoot, as well as the lenses that are only available for these cameras, play a large roll in creating the images we are able to create. With so much of digital photography looking so similar and “sterile” these days, we use our unique gear to set us, and our artwork, apart from the rest of the photographic crowd. Everything from polaroid cameras that are almost 50 years old, to the classic all metal work horse cameras that were a staple in many of histories most beloved photographers camera bags. It all plays so perfectly into the romance and depth of our images.

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The Experience

Film is slow and methodical. For this reason it works absolutely perfect with portraits and formal sessions! It gives way to intimate moments, allowing our couples to be more focused on each other rather than us as the photographers.

The whole process of slowing down, draws focus back to the moment at hand and makes for an intentional meaningful session. This can be done with digital photography as well, but on our end as photographers when you remove all the fancy settings, the lcd screen on the back of the camera, the various auto-focus modes and bring back the most basic simplistic functions of the camera it takes our focus off of the gear in hand and puts it on the beautiful moments at hand.

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The Creativity

Like a brush in the hand of a painter, our cameras are our tools for us to create our artwork with. Fine art requires technique, vision and creativity and we find so much of this with the unique tools we have in our bag.

There’s a creative charge that comes with picking up a camera that is uncommon in itself. Each unique camera forces you to see the scene in front of you in a slightly different way. Composition, focus and limitations change between each camera, and in turn give us as the joys of creating images we may of otherwise not been inspired to or even able to create.

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We still love our digital cameras, and use them when the time is right. But, we absolutely love film, and it is and will continue to be very much alive in our workflow and creative process. Most of all we love giving our Brides and Grooms uniquely crafted Fine Art that is not only timeless, but will inspire generations to come.

All film shots above were:
Shot on either KODAK PROFESSIONAL PORTRA 160 or PORTRA 400

One thought on “Film Friday: Why We Still Shoot Film Photography by Nick & Emily

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