Why Use Film in a Digital Age?
In a world filled with digital devices, people often wonder why a photographer would bother photographing with film. Aren't there a ton of advantages in digital cameras over film cameras?
Though on the surface it may seem counterintuitive, over the years I have learned there are many advantages to using film—especially during weddings—and I've grown more and more accustomed to bringing them in addition to my digital cameras to ensure I capture the best photographs possible.
Film is Beautiful
The only way to get the look that film photography produces is to shoot with film.
I have tried every method out there to emulate the look of film cameras with the digital pictures I take, but at the end of the day, real film always wins.
A photograph shot with film has an organic, three dimensional, almost painterly quality to it—it just pops out at you when looking at it in a way that digital photographs do not. Film is an analog medium, and contains that beautiful tonal transition and warmth that only an analog device can produce.
It's hard to describe with words, but when you look at the pictures on this page (the left side a digital version and the right side photographed with film), it usually becomes easier to understand what I am talking about.
Film is Timeless
Think for a moment about the photographs we take with our phones. With all of the filters and presets that change all of the time, in 20 years do you think those images will feel timeless?
Now think about the photographs you have of your parents and grandparents or the photographs of you when you were younger (most were probably taken with film cameras). Do the actual photographs look like they are associated with a certain decade?
A photograph shot with film has an inherent timelessness to it. Wedding photographs are meant to be shared with future generations, and I never want the pictures I take to feel like they belong in a certain decade—using film is one one the ways to ensure that happens.
Film Forces You to Slow Down
With only sixteen frames per roll (and each individual photograph costing the photographer money), every picture taken requires more thought and awareness. Rather than spam the shutter and hope for the picture, each time the shutter is pressed the picture must really be worth taking.
In a world overwhelmed with images, I am a strong believer in quality over quantity. It's much better to deliver 400 incredible wedding photographs than 1,000 mediocre ones. Photographing with film not only trains you to slow down and really compose a picture before taking it, but also to be present with the subject. Too often digital cameras cause photographers to glance every few seconds at the back of the camera screen, becoming disconnected from the moment.
With Film, the Artist Can Focus on What Really Matters
Film cameras are inherently simpler than digital cameras. Using older cameras with film typically determines your creative choices, rather than having a limitless amount options at your disposal.
Some of the most profound art is created when one limits their creative options. The focus becomes much less about the tools themselves and more about the message the artist is trying to convey.
There is a quote I love by the renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vincci. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." In the modern world, with limitless options at our disposal, I think this has become true more than ever before, and photographing with film helps me embody that principle.
Digital photography certainly has its place alongside film during a wedding. For dark rooms with low light, or fleeting photojournalistic moments than cannot be redone, a digital camera is my tool of choice.
However, there is a time and place for different tools and for me, ensuring that your wedding photographs remain timeless and beautiful mean film photography has a permanent place in my process.