Why I Shoot Film as a Wedding Photographer

As my first post here on Photography Life, I thought I would write a bit about why I shoot film as a wedding photographer. I started my career in photography in 2008 as a digital shooter. Since it was the digital age, it didn’t even cross my mind to shoot film. I had some preconceived notions about it — at the time I thought film was old, outdated, and produced inferior images compared with digital. But the more I learned about film, the more I realized I needed to take a second look.

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(All images in this post are taken by me shot on a Contax 645 with a Zeiss 80 2.0 lens with Fuji 400H film)

My First Experience with Film

My first hands-on experience with film as a professional photographer was with James Christianson. I had hired him to photograph anniversary photos for my husband and I in 2010. He told me he was switching to film and that the session would be all film. I was curious and thought that was a great idea. And while I LOVED the finished product (see a few here on James’ blog) … getting there was a bit rough. I knew that each image taken on a medium format film camera cost approximate $1-$2. So every time he clicked the shutter, I was cringing knowing how much money was being spent. I was so accustomed to digital and not paying per frame.

At the end of our shoot, James had me shoot a roll on my own. It was such a crazy experience and I kept checking the back of the camera because I was so used to digital. My images were terrible. James took his rolls to his pro lab, and I sent my one test roll to a 1 hour local lab. My scans were terrible, full of dust, underexposed, and out of focus. At the time I said I would never shoot film.

The Change

However, as time went on, I could not deny that so many of my favorite images from other photographers were taken on film. I had noticed the work of Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina and started to see the potential of what film really CAN do. I got curious.

I pondered which camera to buy. Should I go 35 mm and use the Canon lenses I already own? (no, I realized I liked medium format the best for film work). What about a Hasselblad? (no, I had heard it can be a bit tricky to use, but I still DO want to test one out!). I also considered a Mamiya RZ 67, but it is a beast and VERY heavy.

I decided on the Contax 645 and a Zeiss 80 2.0 lens – everyone I knew shooting film raved about it, the colors, the lens, and the ease of use. It became the obvious choice.

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Becoming a Film Shooter

My first few rolls on the Contax were terrible as well. It’s not just about finding the right light, setting the right exposure, and composing the right shot. Another very important component for shooting film is your lab. You can do everything right on your end, but still get awful images if you are working with the wrong lab. I have tried quite a few labs until deciding to go with Photo Impact Imaging in Hollywood, CA.

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Fast forward to today and I am utterly head over heels in love with the process of shooting film. I love not being able to see the photo when I take it. This makes me more aware. I like that it actually costs money to shoot film (well I do wish it costs less). Each and every frame I shoot, I strive to make it even better than the last because each frame has a literal price. With digital it becomes too easy to overshoot and not look for the best shots. And I love that it takes time to get my film back—because it feels like Christmas morning every time I get that email saying I have scans waiting to be viewed. It’s nice to have that separation from taking the photo and viewing the photo.

I love the colors that I get with film. With the right lab (thanks Photo Impact Imaging) I barely have to do any adjustments to my film— they arrive in my inbox ready to be posted to my client’s gallery. Film has a wider dynamic range where you do not lose highlights as easily as you do when shooting digitally. I love the grain— there is something so perfect in the little imperfections of film. Film grain is so beautiful to me, and gives a depth and a quality to an image that I do not get with digital. Digital images feel TOO perfect— I prefer a little imperfection from time to time.

My Recommendations for Taking a Good Film Image

  • Buy a light meter. I use the Sekonic 558.
  • Know your film stocks. Some films look best when overexposed 1-2 stops (Fuji 400H). Some films are best shot by spot metering (many black and white films like Tri-X). And some are best shot right around box speed or just a tiny bit overexposed (Kodak Portra 800).
  • How will you know? By trial and error. And these are not hard and fast rules. They are just how I like to expose my film. I know other photographers that prefer a slightly underexposed look and shoot their film accordingly.
  • Look at your negatives. A good lab can fix many mistakes! But looking at your negatives will tell you how you are doing with exposures. A dense (thick) negative means that if you hold it up to light, there are few areas that are clear, which means it would print lighter. A thin negative means that there are many sections that are very light, which means that it will print darker.

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While I love film for its color, dynamic range, grain and what it can do with natural light, there is still a time and place for digital. There are times when I prefer my digital files (especially in low light situations). But overall, film has made me more aware, has pushed me creatively, and has given me a new perspective in my life as a wedding photographer. I feel I am a better photographer for incorporating film into my workflow.

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  1. 1) Entropy
    May 4, 2013 at 3:21 am

    As an avid loyal reader of this blog, welcome to our community to share your experience, art & wisdom –

    Beautiful Pictures & Thoughts >>

    • May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Thank you Entropy! I appreciate your comment!

      • December 23, 2013 at 8:20 am

        i love it ,frames looks rich
        dream continues………….

    • 1.2) Tim Gasper
      April 9, 2014 at 12:05 am

      I am s happy to hear this story. A also very happy that the pro told you to take a roll and shoot without any ‘instructing.’ This is how I have been teaching students n this digital age; give them a 35mm slr, 1 lens, a roll of film and tell them to have fun. It is astonishing how many have told me it opened their eyes. They have a completely different outlook to photography now. They are patient, studying what the are after, making sure everything is correct, getting the image they want to express. And, YES, a good and proper lab is important. I have been doing photography for over 40 years, 25 professionally. I have been n many different countries and in many states here at home and I am NOT finished. There are so many more places and things I am going to do. I shoot professionally with film and use digital for family and miscellaneous. Keep up the good work, love every minute with passion and just keep bringing beauty to the world.

      ‘may your journeys be safe and full of wonder.’

  2. May 4, 2013 at 3:24 am

    Absolutely stunning, wonderful images. I have just returned to film for a while and left my Nikon D800/D7100 home a few times. I’ve bought myself a Canon AE1 + 50mm f1.4 lens (totally manual) and a Nikon f80 so I can use my Nikon lenses. It’s taken me back to my dark room days and not quite knowing what the results will be. I did a few wedding and was complimented for my results, however I am a nervous photographer where weddings are concerned, so don’t think I could cope with the stress of waiting for the film to be developed!

    Incidentally, Ilford in the UK are now offering B&W film development classes again! Perhaps film will become the new digital?


    • May 4, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Richard, you write in part: “I did a few wedding and was complimented for my results, however I am a nervous photographer where weddings are concerned…” and I would add to that notion the old cliché that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” to formulate a question that hasn’t been asked:

      Never mind the “nervous photographer”. Ms. Murray appears to be a solid pro well past that. How, in a competitive market, do I convince Bridezilla to give me her business when I tell her it’s going to be film? I can tell her that every wedding for 100 years was shot on film. But Bridezilla has that little knowledge–a $400 P&S and a rudimentary understanding of PS Elements. And Bridezilla says “with digital you can click so much more, and bring up JPEGS straight away and …blah blah blah.”

      Do I risk scaring away business by standing out from the crowd?

      • 2.1.1) Richard
        May 4, 2013 at 9:12 am


        Oh, there is no doubt that if I did weddings again it would be digital. Although I have done about 4 weddings by myself and I think very successfully from the feedback I received, I always enjoyed being second camera. I really enjoyed taking the candid shots, sometimes with long lenses and then I could just relax and have fun. Interestingly, photographers I worked for were asked for many of the candid shots I took. Fun with no stress.


      • Profile photo of Laura Murray 2.1.2) Laura Murray
        May 4, 2013 at 8:27 pm

        Thanks Shawn for your comment! As for your question– brides don’t always care about what medium is used, as long as they like your end product! Mine LOVE that I shoot film — but again, I should have mentioned more that I do shoot hybrid– I shoot film as a wedding photographer, but I also shoot a lot of digital too — depends on the situation. So I tell them I shoot both. It doesn’t always come up in a consult — sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But all my couples trust me that I am going to shoot in the way that I see best.

        Some brides, I have found, actually request film!

        As for price, and justifying to couples the extra costs… there are some photographers that shoot digital that charge more than me. There are some film photographers that charge less than me. It’s all relative. As long as they love the results, I find they are more than happy with the fact that I like to shoot film.

      • 2.1.3) Sky
        May 29, 2013 at 1:25 am

        Well, TBH: I would be delighted if I could have my wedding shot on film.

        Mostly because I can digitalize film easily, but I can’t filmilaze (?!) digital. And the film is by far more timeless and sentimental medium, which perfectly fits a climate of the weddings. Problem is that so far I haven’t seen even a single photographer who would give me an option to have a wedding shot on film. Cause you see – you don’t need to force anyone into film. Just… give an option. Please, do.

  3. 3) DuRi
    May 4, 2013 at 4:07 am

    You can turn image preview off on digital camera to have that film like experience. That is what i did after i have shot on film for a while. Also it saves battery :)

    • May 4, 2013 at 5:53 am

      Yep DuRi!!! :) :) Thanks!!! But still, there is something about film that is oh so irresistible for me!!! :) :)

      • 3.1.1) david distefano
        May 4, 2013 at 10:56 am

        for me it is in the high values. i shoot 4×5 and hasselblad, and films shoulder for the high values makes all the difference in the world. subtle shades of white vs. the liner whites of digital. film has become the new alternative photography. as you also said, when you shoot film you tend to slow down and truly visualize the shot. in my personal experience, i have more keepers shooting film then i so shooting digital

  4. May 4, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Beautiful PGy Laura :)
    Welcome back to real RAW PGy :)
    Well, you chose one the very best and modern MF system with ability to switch to digital too :)
    I grew up among MF and 4×5 LF :)
    If it was not of closing of labs who develop Slide film I’d be shooting with a Mamiya 7 system and no waiting and wasting of money on constant upgrading digital :) .it’s small and lightweight and the results from the Mamyia lenses, wow!
    Overexpose 400H for portraits you mean ? not for general PGy? right ? ..as I happen to have tons of it in my freezer and not only for portraits but for general landscape ,street and also portrait shooting.

    Have you ever pushed or pulled Portra 800 ? how does it look ? as I found 400 to be a little bit contrasty than 160 in portraits ,in 35mm.

    Looking forward from articles from you on your film PGy experience :)


    • May 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

      I know– the closing of labs is SO sad and I don’t hear much about slide film these days. But there are still a few reliable labs left– and they are amazing!!! However, expensive sometimes :(

      YES!!! I like to overexpose 400H for portraits— but I do it for my travel work/landscape work too… but I have a very specific style I am going for with that. I love the pastel colors that overexposing creates!!! But some people don’t like to overexpose as much as I do — it’s just the way that I like. Nasim’s landscapes look VERY different than mine — so he would probably hate the way I shoot film for it. But each to their own!!! :) :) :) I admire his work very much so, though!!!!

      I have not pushed or pulled Portra 800- I shoot it normally at box speed, but sometimes it is underexposed a little (if there is no available light), and it still turns out great. I don’t normally push or pull film — I pushed once, but that was because I made a metering mistake! I LOVE the latitude of film — that it can be fixed during scanning if the negative is a little bit off.

      I find that Portra 400 can get a bit more contrasty too — but again, I shoot it at box speed and my lab compensates a little because they know my style and how I like to shoot. I find that if you overexpose Portra it gets a bit yellow-y, but I know people who overexpose it like they do with 400H and it is gorgeous!!!

      Thank you SO SO SO SO much for your comment!!!

      • 4.1.1) Adnan Khan
        May 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

        Yes indeed ,I’ve nearly 200 Slide rolls left and as i’m just a non serious hobbyist it’s really hard to find time to shoot not to say that I’ve to send the film to UK or take rolls with me to Hong Kong or Malaysia in the mean time they just keep piling up :) and yes,it costs more now as it did before.
        Now I’ve chosen Fuji 400H to be my every kind of film ,for landscape shots I use warmer filters with grads on it to get some kind of Velvia effect ,but only if the lens is super sharp like Nikon 55mm 2.8 Ais or 40mm Voigtlander (both can take 2 or even 3 filters)
        I’m searching for a threaded or slightly blurred filter for portraits only ,which creates a softer n smoother skin in portraits.
        For B/W I mostly use Kodak TriX , IlfordHP5+ and for portraits I put a Hoya yellow/green filter ,it pops up smoother skin and lighten faces.
        Here is a 12yr old expired Fuji Astia 100 35mm snap I shot last yr. of my niece. It was on shelf until I found out and froze it 5 yrs ago.My dad bought it but forgot to shoot it as he used MF mostly :)


        Astia was made for portraits only but even if I find it ,again it’s a developing problem (one of the reasons I dived into digital)

        I think every mature photographer has his own style whether a seasoned hobbyist or a Pro. Nasim has his own style of shooting but you can see when he is shooting birds n wL and landscapes and when he shoots weddings he tries to balance his spouse’s style but that is purely for commercial needs. LOL :) I’m sure he do likes your style ,no question about that ,you are here aren’t you? :))

        Thank you indeed for answering me :)
        You are most welcome :)


    • 4.2) Russ
      August 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm


      Portra 400 pushes very well a stop or two.


  5. May 4, 2013 at 4:26 am

    When I was an apprentice snapper back in the 60s we learnt rather a lot about chemistry,film construction etc.
    That gave us a great understanding of how film responds to light and even the purity of the water we mixed the chemicals in, so when there was a glitch,we had an informed idea of what caused it.
    Shooting on film is no easier or harder than digital but knowing why an effect happened on both requires knowledge and that is usually hard won.
    Film has been maturing and developing (no pun intended) for 150 years, digital less than 30% of that time yet its evolution has outpaced film by a country mile.
    I did my own processing of film,transparency and neg and printing for decades and although now 100% digital do miss the sight of a still wet processed film or a print colour coming out of the processor and even a B+W image maturing in the dish.
    Experimenting with film was fun.
    Whatever your chosen medium its important to know what it is capable of but most of all its the pure enjoyment of making images which both pleases yourself and,if commercial,your client.

    • May 4, 2013 at 4:58 am

      Your words remind me of what my Dad used to say :)
      He was a very serious hobbyist with his own commercial level darkroom and tried to offer his guidance in developing and printing film to me ,but then I was not so much interested in developing as still today I just drop rolls at Labs. Now I’m sorry that I could have done some E6 developing of mine as no more Slide sadly in my area and my dad is retired ,old n weak. But I remember when he borrowed an 8×10 LF for fun shooting n testing his skills, the size of the negative was HUGE! and I’ve mostly printed my so called good prints in 8×12 siize :)
      Paper also plays a huge part and as you said the chemistry and water purification too! that is why his 30 yr old prints or negatives are better than modern 1 hr Photo Labs. Modern labs run by pro photographers yield better results than an average lab if one tells them how much pushing or pulling was involved or what paper you want.
      Not appreciating film is like not respecting your elders :)


      • 5.1.1) Michael W
        May 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

        Not appreciating film is like not respecting your elders :)

        That is so true,untill you know and appreciate image capture with film your adventures with digital will always be emasculated.
        I really like the analogy,your dad was an ace.

  6. May 4, 2013 at 5:10 am

    It’s fascinating. I’m going out next week with a pal who has a collection of over 100 film cameras, the earliest a 1927 Leica. He also has 3 large format cameras, 7×5 and 10×8, and still uses them exclusively for landscape. He’s going to teach me the skills, ala Ansel Adams, in the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia. What a treat.


    • May 4, 2013 at 5:26 am

      Wow! indeed! lucky you! :) ,try a 4×5 first if it’s possible as it’s easy to focus but in 8×10 you will be checking it like microscope ,I mean every millimeter on huge ground glass :)
      good light n happy shooting


      • 6.1.1) Richard
        May 4, 2013 at 6:19 am

        Sorry, I did say 3 large format cameras, but omitted to say that the 3rd is indeed a 4×5. I believe we are taking that camera.



        • Adnan Khan
          May 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

          That’s great!
          Though in 35mm the tilt shift lens can take pictures but they chop significant amount of film or sensor area and hence it’s rather difficult to frame a shot like the Coke cans picture taken by a 4×5 camera which can tilt n shift better with bellows ,scroll down on this link to see the effect they give.

          And that’s how one can get corner to corner ultra sharp shot in landscapes too :)
          All the masters still shoot with 4×5 mostly as it’s ” lighter ” than the 8×10 monsters :)
          It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Linhof or a Calumet :) ,it depends on lens and photographer’s ability to get it right :)
          Try using non coated very old lenses ,if your friend has them in his collection as some results I’ve seen from 90 yr old lenses are better than modern 10K lenses :).
          I’m sure you’ll love the experience :)
          Happy shooting :)

  7. 7) EricL
    May 4, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Hi Laura,

    With so many folk all going mad for digital capture and cameras that do all the thinking for them many don’t really appreciate what they are doing with an image. If you look at most of the quality images that are produced by photographers today a considerabl amount are by those who were brought up using film. They understand about how each make of film would translate the colours onto that film. A stop either way or a small masking off on an area during printing would make such a difference to the final printed image.

    Granted we now have all that clever manipulation in the Photoshop softwares that are great fun, however I learnt more from shooting and developing my own film BW + slide because the final image has taken a long time to produce you tend to look more critically at them, especially as they were usually fewer. This review time is so important as you develop your eye and technical knowledge, in turn this all improves the range and depth of skills at your disposal. I really get feed up of seeing the same old headline in the mags, turm to M mode for a new experience. Brought up on medium format (Rolliflex) and a light meter the M mode on the Nikons I have are a sheer delight especially with spot/area and matrix.

    I recently did a family wedding and at times used the D7oo as a scene sweaper at 5 FPS which would have been too expenisve in film. Digital won that day. (Al;though my 500 shots soon became 150 after review). I am now minded to go and grab the Pentax K2 for my next holiday in Scotland as the last lot of pictures taken with the D80 really lacked the depth of colour the old Kodak 25 and 64 would produce.

    Enjoy the pleasure of thinking it through before pressing the shutter. Please spread the good word, film.

    • May 4, 2013 at 6:20 am

      Thank you SO much for you comment– I loved reading your thoughts and ideas on film!!! Wishing you all the best– and please spread the word on film too — I do not want any more beautiful film stocks to go the way of say, Fuji 800z (that film was SO beautiful and is made no more :(:()

  8. 8) Shawn Young
    May 4, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Ms. Murray,
    brilliant first post. I look forward to reading much more of your work and seeing more of your beautiful images. Thank you for posting here.
    Cost prohibits me from returning to film, but I still like having my eyes opened to old ideas that are new once more. Thank you.

  9. 9) Prof. G.
    May 4, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Wonderful article. I learned to “paint with light” on an old Argus 35mm and a nondescript Primo Junior (made Super Slides) — a mini twin-lens camera. The tlr forced me to slow down and got me away from the “target syndrome.”
    My Nikon F100 took me through the Middle East in 1999 — sadly, here on Long Island, the professional labs have all but disappeared. I brought 3 rolls of color print film to COSTCO for developing — I had shot the U.S. Open Tennis match — they scratched all 3 rolls — disgraceful.
    IMHO, to get the resolution of 35mm film one needs a camera with at least the same resolution — guessing 26megapixels and up.
    BTW, I did find a wonderful pro lab in Manhattan — yes, a bit pricey with shipping but well worth it — I know that I do not “spray and pray” when shooting film. Thanks LTI — Lightside Photographic Services — they do the old “dip and dunk” method and will, upon request, perform a “snip test.”

    I wish that Nikon made a high end 35mm digital that had an articulated screen — kind of like looking down at the ground glass of a tlr — I do believe that there are finder attachments that will do this, as well.

    BTW, I used Fuji Velvia to shoot a fireworks display (at night, of course) 2 summers ago — fabulous colors.
    Additionally, way back, I purchased a Mamiya c330 which I used for portraits and, try not to laugh, photographing winning dogs at dog shows.
    I would love to add a tlr to my arsenal — I will shop around for one for which I won’t have to sell my kidneys to pay for it — lol.
    PS off this topic — sorry — I rented a Nikon D7100 for a Seal Watch Cruise out of Greenport Long Island last weekend — will report back after I “develop” the images.
    I can’t wait to read another article of yours.

  10. 10) Peter
    May 4, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I saw your article heading and said to myself: “God! Not another film vs. digital article.” Well…

    I shot all kinds of film for 47 years and abruptly switched to digital in 2004. Never looked back. I also learned to drive a car using manual transmission. Prefer automatic. How many of you have ink-filled fountain pens to write with?

    To each his/her own, but for the average non-professional (i.e. does not make money from photography)
    digital is so much more practical and far more fun, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, shooting film teaches a discipline hard to acquire in the digital age, but if you want to advance your creativity and have fun doing it, digital is the way to go.

    Lastly, software can help make your images look like film if that’s what you want. Have the best of both subjective worlds with digital, as far as I’m concerned.

    • 10.1) Adnan Khan
      May 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

      LOL Peter :)
      I assume you are talking about me ..”but for the average non-professional (i.e. does not make money from photography)” … well for me ,film is love of my life and digital is a hot chick ;)
      Digital is fun and great for learning and practicing Pgy. but a hard earned good film shot is like a paycheck from a hard labor day’s return :)
      You must be too old to crank up the rolls :))
      Software ? that would be imitation ,like real diamonds against plastic crystals :)) ,I’ve compared real film prints vs DXO labs’s film packs on their site ,not even close to Printed Velvia result ,they might get close but not to the exact thing… for me, Lightroom is more than enough,PS is waste of time n money ,whenever I think of getting PS ,I end up with a lens or last time it was a filter like Cokin X Pro Blue/Gold 173 :)
      For commercial work ppl. do need PS or other software but as per their needs as you said.
      BTW ,I was wondering if you care to show your work ,ppl. like me can learn a lot from your experience :)


      • 10.1.1) Peter
        May 4, 2013 at 10:03 am

        Hey! Hot chicks have their place. Ask most any politician, especially in Italy or the United States. They may even give you some leads!

        I shoot mainly HDR with a Nikon D700 and process the RAW files in Photomatix and Photoshop. They then go to a land trust website (www.granbylandtrust.org) or to the local newspaper. I don’t make prints anymore. Got tired of dried-up expensive cartridges and high-priced frames.

        For my shooting needs (website/newspaper), film would be a big pain and completely overkill.

        By the way, I’ve been to many photo shows and can spot a print made from film. Colors and sharpness are less defined and always seem to look like a Kodachrome slide..

    • May 5, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Haha, Adnan, yes, I tried to make it not another film vs digital debate. I just wanted to write why I like film — because a lot of the things I will be posting here will be taken with film (but I will also be posting digital shots too).

      I know there is software that mimics film — but really, it is such a pain and time consuming to mess with digital files to get them to look how I want. That is the joy of film — it’s already ready just the way I like it! :)

      • 10.2.1) Max
        May 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

        I agree. I tried all kind of specialized filters to get a real analog feeling in my pictures but none really satisfied me and it was a pain so much to edit . I have even done test shoots using a film camera and a digital camera taking pictures with both camera’s at the same moment using the same lenses. There was still a huge difference between the “imitation analog” and the real analog results.

        For me I love digital ánd analog. It just depends on the subjects and my shooting mood. For pure pleasure and free work I prefer analog, for paid jobs I feel safe with my D800. I hope the film laboratories don’t stop and the old and beautifull art will survive!

  11. 11) Norman Silva
    May 4, 2013 at 8:15 am


    Welcome. Your work is truly art – either you have it, or you don’t – you certainly have it.

    I recently commented to a friend how I take my hat off to shooters of film. I’m the other side of sixty and when I was younger, had a friend who shot film seriously – dark room and all – wow, it was a real science.

    I recently got into photography – digital of course and your post reminds me of the very early eighties when digital music was entering the market.

    The owners of analogue equipment would talk about the “warmth” of the music and the “feeling” their equipment produced. What it really was, was distortion from the equipment, rumble from turntables and essentially bad signal to noise ratios. The digital music was too “clean” and “clinical” for them – read technically perfect.

    I’m not saying this is the case with film vs. digital, your post just brought back memories.

    I find digital is too easy – snap away and make any corrections with the software and produce great pictures. Of late I have been buying vintage manual focus lenses and have enjoyed the challenge they offer as opposed to using AF lenses – like shooting fish in a barrel but that’s just my opinion – each to their own.

    I recently took some pictures of flowers and tweaked them with a software program. They were stunning and I told my wife that one couldn’t find a flower like that in real life.

    Maybe I’ll be joining you in the world of film one of these days:)

    Thanks for sharing your talents.


    Norman Silva.

    • 11.1) Michael W
      May 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      One has to ask why you press the shutter when you do.
      If its to capture a moment but your camera was not set to perfection is it wrong to correct that after the moment.
      I think not.
      Any aid,digital or analogue,and I spent 40 years on analogue,is a means to an end.Getting the right image to display has to be the point of shooting.

    • May 5, 2013 at 9:34 am

      THANK YOU Norman!!!!

    • 11.3) MartinG
      May 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Analog audio does not appeal to me because the cost for quality is truly frightening. I think your analogy is not well chosen because you oversimplify both sides of the analog v digital music debate. Besides the current range of CD players have become so much better,as the manufacturers learnt how to make them to perform really well. Digital cameras are still evolving, and will continue to improve.
      I do think film has a aesthetic of its own. That is all there is to it. It is still photography and still a challenge to do well. It has different technical features and requires a bit more commitment than digital. It is not something I plan to go back to, I like my D800 much more than my old Olympus film camera. I don’t think anyone should claim it is some form of “truth”.
      I do however appreciate the article. I welcome the idea that the web site has a contributor who has a love of film. It adds another perspective. I am dismayed when I see post where people try to argue about what is better. It completely misses the fundamental point that photography is an art (well for some people it is). There is no need to seek out perfection of any kind.

  12. 12) ed holzer
    May 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I may be getting old and blind but………….
    While the pictures are very artistic, every one of them looks to me
    to be out of focus. Is this what is meant by “little imperfections”?

    • 12.1) Peter
      May 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      I looked at them again. Yes, the focus is “soft.”

      • Profile photo of Laura Murray 12.1.1) Laura Murray
        May 5, 2013 at 9:36 am

        Yes, it’s not as tack sharp as a digital file, but that is what I like about it…. to me, the softness is beautiful — film is almost TOO sharp in my opinion. Too perfect. But that is just my opinion… I shoot digital too, and get images I like from that as well. But I enjoy the “softness” of film.

  13. May 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    To see the film based images here the negs or prints had to be scanned,just a thought :-)
    For those of us providing images for use in brochures and the press or on websites there can be no arguament that digital is better in every way.Faster from click to post.accurate colour without resorting to a colour temperature meter and filters which degrade image quality.ability to use high iso in low light,a histogram to show if any image clipping has occured and of course multi exposure for HD work if required.
    Of course Weddings are unique in the images that are required and film with its generally measured pace of work can bring an element of calm to the moment but for me Digital is now the only way,even for weddings but that is of course personal :-)

  14. May 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I’m glad film works for you. However, I am 70 years old. I have owned and operated B&W and color darkrooms. I have owned and used Hassleblad 120 and Linhof 4×5 view cameras. Saying that, I am OPPOSED to film for the simple reason of the environment. The manufacturing and developing of B&W & color films is an affront to a clean and safe world! It is a true blessing that there is hardly any one shooting film in the 21st century.

    A second point I would make is you still use digital — i.e. scanning! Logically scanning makes NO sense! Common sense tells us it is better to “scan” the original 1:1 scene than it is to scan a tiny little piece of film!

    So, stick to film if you must but I will never again pour toxic bleach down the drain! I still feel guilty and embarrassed not just for me but for the MILLIONS of other photographers who routinely did the same throughout the last century! And, I will pick my scanner up off my desktop and take it out to scan the real world — the original life-sized 1:1 scenes!

    • 14.1) Adnan Khan
      May 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Oh wow! thank you very much Randy for saving the Planet, as a Green Peace member I should award you a medal :)
      And thank you for not driving a car ,for not travelling by air and for not using petrochemical products ..oh ! wait …did I say Petrochemical products? ….now I’m confused ;P
      Retire now when you can and enjoy life :)
      my 2 cents :)


      • 14.1.1) Randy Sherman
        May 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

        Sarcasm doesn’t suit you well Adnan! You should stick to photography where you often make good points. Perhaps you would like to go back to London fog when everyone burnt coal or Los Angeles smog before clean gas and catalytic converters? Clearly if we have a choice between a clean way and a dirty way of doing things, as responsible citizens of ANY age, we have an obligation and duty to choose the clean way!
        I notice you didn’t comment on scanning tiny pieces of film — you couldn’t think of a sarcastic way to knock that?

        • Adnan Khan
          May 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

          Randy, I replied to you as your Pgy is great and I never expected those words from a 70 yr old seasoned photographer.I never said that I’m against digital ,I enjoy Photography may it be in any format and like pictures from any format as far as they are not manipulated (I mean cheated in P Shop)
          His work is purely commercial and he has some points on which I’ve always agreed.
          Read his first post # 5. He was into Pgy in 60’s and I was born in 77 :)
          However some of them develop a “phobia” when someone talks about film ,it’s like a taboo in their world as they can shoot hundreds and keep one in digital,so the feeling “safe” mentality develops.Which is totally understandable to me.
          And again there are many with different kind of self developed ideology that haunts them.
          Some have to make a living and some just don’t have the confidence (especially the digital born shooters) ,they feel threatened and I’m surprised to see many young ppl. who actually know nothing about PGy and are becoming some sort of cult members to different online reviewers or guide sellers.it’s a sad thing ,there is difference among learning from somebody and blindly following someone who leads them to a ditch like sheep :)

          But it’s hard to make them understand that they are one of millions and only a fingertip few make it to real master level ,but if only when their intentions are to earn few extra bucks while they are in school or college and beside taking pictures and improving their skills they waste time on arguing about cameras and lenses just because they can’t afford them.
          And I mean this level :


          Totally two different things ,one is pure art like painting slow and powerful other is just get the job done and get the payment. Handcrafting vs fast assembly line. But most ppl. get confused either due to narrow mindedness or they just won’t be able to understand ever.

          I always say that for commercial photography digital is a blessing for those ppl. who need their workflow fast no matter if it’s a lens that helps them or a tiny phone App.
          This lady started commercial PGy in 2008 and it is a very BOLD move from her to merge film into her commercial work ,this is the thing to appreciate, and that is the post about.

          I hope I made my point as now I may be a threat to Dr. Phil ;)
          Cheer up n good light! :)

      • 14.1.2) Michael W
        May 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

        Randy has a valid point.
        I poured thousands of gallons of chemicals down the drain over the decades.I recovered as much of the silver as I could though,that was a financial consideration not an environmental one.
        Im 65 and can remeber serious pollution in the air.
        I also remember the limitations of film and the wonderfull progress digital has delivered to everyone.
        I trained on 5×4 inch B+W.
        I remember the wonderfull Rollie medium format,then the Mamiya with interchangeable lenses along with the Pentax spotmatic.I owned several Hasselblads Contaxes and numerous120 and 5×4″monorails.
        My father owned a Tatung Einstein computer but worked for IBM.
        He was not oblivious to the advantages of progress,neither am I
        Film was good. Having been an early adopter with scan backs etc I can say that now,digital is better in every way ,apart from being battery dependant.
        Mechanical cameras and film can still operate,rather like a book vs Kindle,just with light.

    • 14.2) Peter
      May 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Everybody forgets about the impact of cow flatulence on our environment. This was the subject of great concern in the USA about 1 year ago but was dropped because nobody knew how to measure it. Phew!

      Now that I’m 72, I think I’ll stop drinking milk.

      • 14.2.1) Adnan Khan
        May 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        LOL :)) … oh you are so right about cows :))
        BTW ,I visited your site very tiny but nice pictures Peter ,so, you cannot submit these to 500Pix or sites like that ? is there a restriction or you just don’t want to?
        HDR if looks good then I personally like it but mostly don’t shoot it ,infact I shot some in film days when scanners were getting better but then after 12MP cameras it looks like scanner tech is being held in pause as it was getting better n cheaper every year.
        Sell the old D700 and save some money ,get a D5100 ,it shoots HDRs and you wont have to go through all that software ,will save you time :) ,I shot a HDR photo with D800 looks good with matrix metering and it all ends up in JPG anyway :)

    • 14.3) Mark
      May 16, 2013 at 7:14 am

      I suppose you think your digital photography and for that matter your posting on this web site leaves no environmental footprint? You are probably not aware that the proliferation of Internet-based, well, everything, has resulted in hundreds of datacenters and data exchanges which consume more watts of electricity per square foot than anything that has every come before. So don’t get holier-than-thou about film. You may have a point about the chemistry, but the sheer volume of digital activity is exacting a hell of an energy cost.

    • 14.4) Bubba Jones
      June 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Randy Sherman,
      Digital is much more detrimental to our environment than film based cameras could ever be. As a 70 year old as well, I respectfully request you reevaluate your comment “…saying that, I am OPPOSED to film for the simple reason of the environment. The manufacturing and developing of B&W & color films is an affront to a clean and safe world! It is a true blessing that there is hardly any one shooting film in the 21st century…”. That comment shows your are very uninformed, illogical, and not at all well educated on the digital manufacturing process.

      Have you given thought to the environmental impact creating digital cameras create? Think about all the chemicals used in the process of sensors, motherboards, the mining of all the raw material needed for making not only the cameras, but all the equipment to make the cameras, factories, and factories to make the factories? Digital cameras are disposable thus end up in the landfills more so than film cameras.

      Folks denounce the chemicals of film based workflow yet they forget about the impact of all the equipment, energy, and chemicals, required in the making of digital cameras. With the statement you made that I quoted in my mind you lost all credibility.


  15. 15) Micah
    May 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    …I don’t see anything in the shots that can’t be done with digital. I still shoot film for fun, but I would never again do so professionally if I can avoid it. Most customers don’t appreciate any positive differences (though they certainly notice price and the increase in turnaround time!) and there’s no technical reason to do so. Other than you just don’t know how to get the same results with digital.

    That, however, is not a shortcoming of the medium.

    • May 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

      I find that my customers DO appreciate the difference — now not all for sure, but many do! I shot a wedding this past weekend in Telluride and everyone kept say, “now is that film– I LOVE film.”… and the mother of the bride said they had their family photos taken every year by the same photographer. And when that photographer switched to digital she said she noticed and preferred the film.

      Regardless, I shoot both so clients have both as an option. But my favorites are ALWAYS the film images!

  16. 16) Max
    May 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Having been a filmshooter for years I changed at the time the Nikon D200 came out. Since then I have been photographing digital and have always been a bit frustrated about the results and the amount of editing necessary to get good results.

    Just a few weeks ago I started to scan my old negatives and I discovered a beauty that is there automatically. The colors are extremely beautifull, the grain gives an atmosphere you don’t get digital and no blown out whites and no harh digital feeling. You hardly need to edit (I scan the negatives) and because you have a limited amount of shots (that cost money!) the concentration is better during photographing!

    Thanks for writing this article. More attention to the old and beautiful art of working analog will hopefully make more photographers enthusiast and prevent the old art from disappearing completely.

    I am going back in the time and bought last week a fantastic used semi-professional analog Nikon camera for only € 75,- and I like the results more than those from my € 3000,- D800! Luckily all my new af-s lenses are fully compatible. Of course digital remains mainstream but I don’t want to miss the beauty of analog any more!

    Maybe nice to write: analog here in Holland is now getting very popular with photography students. They are the photographers of the future!

  17. 17) Norman Silva
    May 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    C’mon girls – play nicely.

    I’ve been on so many forums over the years where good discussions deteriorated into name calling and pettiness.

    I thought it was different on photography forums/blogs/sites until today.

    What Laura must think I can’t imagine. This is her first day and she is our guest and this is the way you act. Is this how you act when you invite people to your home? One of you mentioned your age – act it.

    Norman Silva.

    • 17.1) Peter
      May 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Norman, you have zero sense of humor (see your paragraph 4).

      I was waiting for the first humorless person to pop up over this blog, and now I don’t have to wait any longer. There are always 1 or 2 on this site that get so serious that they have to lecture others on their behavior. Do you really think anyone is taking the jabs that seriously? They were jokes! Just like: “C’mon girls-play nicely.”

      Laura: None of this was intended to disparage you.

      • Profile photo of Laura Murray 17.1.1) Laura Murray
        May 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

        Haha no worries!!!! I have am actually out of town to shoot a wedding and have been in the car for the past 8 hours — just seeing this now! I’ll read more when I am done and back home on Tuesday and comment more then!!

  18. 18) Norman Silva
    May 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm


    Certainly didn’t sound like humor to me – sounded more like “keyboard warriors” having a go. My comment “C’mon girls-play nicely” wasn’t a joke. There were a couple of guys acting like girls.

    My other comment about someone mentioning their age was wrongly attributed to you – my apologies. I did find your remark about cow flatulence funny though – there’s still hope for me:) When that news broke a few years ago I didn’t think it was funny – “here we go again” is what I thought.

    The written word is not a good medium for dialogue, especially when there aren’t any emoticons.

    Anyway, let’s get back to photography.

  19. May 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Hey all!!!!! Laura here! :)

    Thank you for all of your comments — the good and the more critical!! I really appreciate them! I have been in a car for the past 8 hours driving to Telluride for a wedding — I will have time to comment more when I am done shooting and back at my desk on Tuesday!! But it sure has been an interesting discussion! ;)

    Happy weekend!

    • 19.1) peter
      May 5, 2013 at 7:40 am

      I heard a funny term the other day related to weddings. Referring to bride behavior at weddings this person called it “Bridezilla.”

      On the subject of film, the last wedding I took in 1960 was a total disaster. I used a 2 1/4 camera, shot B&W film, and made one enormous/classic mistake: For that wedding I switched my developer from my usual Acufine to an unfamiliar Diafine to gain additional film speed (I switched horses in mid-stream).

      The film came out of the developer so thin that they made horrible prints…so bad I didn’t get paid.

      Now you know why I LOVE digital. No more horror shows, no more Murphy’s Law, no more crushing defeats.

      • Profile photo of Laura Murray 19.1.1) Laura Murray
        May 7, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Peter, I have never ever had a bridezilla– all my brides are gracious, sweet, happy, and beautiful on the inside and out! I LOVE the couples that hire me!!!

        And as for issues with film, I send mine to a professional lab and they always do an amazing job. And I do shoot some digital too…. so I know I am backed up.

        • peter
          May 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

          Count your blessings, Laura. How about the mothers and the mother-in-laws? Come-on, level with us about them!

          I haven’t done weddings for many years. Not my kind of thing. Same with fashion photography.
          If I want corny, staged photos I’d prefer taking photos of the expansive corn fields in Kansas!

          Note: To some who may read this, I am not insulting Laura. It’s all in good fun; although, many a truth is spoken in jest.

    • May 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Laura: Sorry to have stirred up a hornets nest — I just wanted to point out two aspects of film that the commentors before me had not mentioned: the caustic chemicals and scanning film. I am not a wedding photographer so I couldn’t comment on the real theme of your post.
      But, like the others, I welcome you to this great photo blog.

      • Profile photo of Laura Murray 19.2.1) Laura Murray
        May 7, 2013 at 7:44 am

        Randy — Yes, caustic chemicals are a concern. I know there are ways to recycle some of the chemicals and to dispose of in a more environmentally sound way. That’s a good reminder for me to check with my lab to see what they do for this!!! And I happen to LOVE my scanned film images– I love straight photographic prints too, of course, but the scans I get from my pro lab makes me happy as well!

  20. 20) Jay
    May 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    So funny to see young photographers “discover” film! Growing up on film, today I shoot digital like I did film. I’m slow, calculated and concise with my exposures. None of this machine gunning for me. Interesting to see people doing the reverse- going to film in order to improve their photography skills! What comes around goes around!

  21. 21) Claude Dumas
    May 5, 2013 at 6:58 am

    With all due respect, I still cannot understand why “film” is seen by some as the ultimate experience in today photography. It is cumbersome, very unflexible, and dynamic range is lower contrary to what you mentioned. Resolution is lower than a D800, high ISO is non existent. In 2013, power, quality and versatility is in the hand of the digital technology, specially with the incredible post-processing tools we have now. Shooting a wedding with film in 2013 appears to me as living over the edge and put in jeopardy precious memories for the brides. I don’t see a single reason to use film, except maybe to experiment with very old and completely outdated technology : in that sens, yes it can be fun.

    My 2 cents.

    • 21.1) peter
      May 5, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Agree 100%.

      Also, to your point, see my comments in ” 48)peter” 3 or 4 stops above.

      Talk about “a day of infamy” for me.

      • 21.1.1) Adnan Khan
        May 5, 2013 at 8:07 am

        Peter ,you miser ,why didn’t you give it to the Lab for developing at least might have got paid :))
        Now you took this guy’s 2 cents ,please donate it to Green Peace ,as we need every cent to clear London’s fog and LA’s smog caused buy film ;) and you better contribute by taking some HDR’s of cows to clear your name :)) …before Auntie Norma comes back :))
        I had a blast of laughter on “Bridezilla” ..LOL
        Thanks for a nice fresh n lively morning :) ,it’s going to be a great day as I’ll be offline.


        • Peter
          May 5, 2013 at 10:12 am

          Hey! You’re right but 53 years too late with your sound advice.

    • 21.2) max
      May 5, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Try and discover! You cannot compare, it is just an other experience. A different attitude to photography. Not for fast shooters but for visual artists with an artistic vision.

    • May 7, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Claude, thank for for your comment. But, I, however and many of my photography friends and my couples do appreciate the beauty and experience of film. Each to their own! :) I suggest doing what works for you — everyone’s processes and desires are different. I do what I love and find that my clients appreciate that.

  22. 22) Norman Silva
    May 5, 2013 at 8:58 am


    The title of Laura’s article is “Why I Shoot Film as a Wedding Photographer”, not “Film is better than digital”, “Digital Sucks”, “Film vs. digital”, “Why don’t you shoot film as a Wedding Photographer” etc.

    Is it only me that gets this? (Peter, it’s me again – the guy with no sense of humor :))

    There seems to be a lot of “answering of questions that haven’t been asked.” We’ll soon end up discussing Polar Bears and Global Warming – all those toxic chemicals :)

    I often tell my teenage Grandsons to “focus”. Case in point:)

    • 22.1) Peter
      May 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Norman, you obviously don’t live in the United States because you’d get crucified for making the comment…”There were a couple of guys acting like girls.” The politically correct crowd in our otherwise great and magnificent country would call you a “sexist” and banish you from websites all over the US. You must be a Brit! Or an Australian.

      By the way, I’m beginning to see your sense of humor emerging…”Polar Bears and Global Warming .” Keep it up, but leave your grandsons alone. Let them enjoy the best part of their lives…being kids. Then, afterwards, they’ll grow up and be like us. Perish the thought.

      • 22.1.1) Norman Silva
        May 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm


        Now I’m really going to shock you! I live in Southern California with all these “girlie men”. All these guys with “truck envy” – what is with that?

        I believe if a woman is treated like a woman she will respond accordingly.

        This is definitely the best country on earth and we need to do away with all this PC nonsense and look after our own. Don’t get me started:) If you want, I’ll send you my email address and we can carry on like two old men and solve the world’s problems:)

        I want my Grandsons to grow up and not be like some of these youngsters in the fast food chains that can’t give you change from a $10.00 bill if the power goes out:) I don’t want them to grow up to be like me either – lol.

        • Claude Dumas
          May 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

          Norma, I don’t thing USA is the “best country” in the world : it all depends on how you measure it… Sandinavian countries may be the best on this planet, as they reached a very good balance. Canada is also very good (except for Québec where I live, where the hard left is much too strong). But this subject is extremely subjetive. The best thing to do is to travel extensively and try to see and understand people beyond your own frontier

          • Peter
            May 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

            Claude, I also think the US is the best country in the world. Also, I have traveled extensively and even to Canada…that’s north us us, isn’t it? I see and understand people beyond my own border. I also have a good understanding of history, especially 20th century where the US helped us enjoy the world we now have.

            I even used film when I traveled the world, but relied mostly on digital.

          • Norman Silva
            May 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm


            I have traveled a lot and have seen how other people live.

            I’ve been to England four times, did export to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland and Malawi – went spearfishing at night with a flashlight in Lake Kariba and gave that up when I saw crocodile activity:) Lived in South Africa for many years – also been to Costa Rica.

            I have been to Canada and wasn’t impressed. We have more people in California than there are in Canada – lol.

            A lot of people don’t understand how our country was founded – we get our rights from God. Some people get hot under the collar and I always ask them what is the alternative? The only other alternative is that you get your rights from the Government. If the Government can give them, they can also take them away. Ask the people from Russia, Cuba, China etc. etc. how that worked out for them.

            We believe all men have been created equal – see what answers you get from a Muslim woman, or an Indian person with their caste system when you ask them that question. See what type of lives they live.

            The USA has it’s problems (Liberals) but it’s the people – not the Constitution. There is opportunity in this country like nowhere else in the world. This is the most generous nation in the world and if I can name one fault, it is Americans are TOO GOOD to everyone else.

            Where else in the world can you live and buy cameras and lenses so cheaply? :)

            By now Laura must be thinking “what have I got myself in to”? Sorry Laura. Hopefully, this will be the last.

            • Claude Dumas
              May 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

              I disagree strongly, but you are right, lets go back to photography, this is what this great site is for :-)

            • MartinG
              May 9, 2013 at 7:59 am

              I am shocked by your assumptions and disrespect for the site.

            • Norman Silva
              May 9, 2013 at 9:54 am


              Haven’t quite figured out why it took you almost a week to respond to my first post. BTW – you missed the point of both of my posts.

              Peter remarked about people like you….There are always 1 or 2 on this site that get so serious that they have to lecture others on their behavior.

              Are you a “girlie man” that you are so shocked?

              Focus on what we are discussing and not what other people say.

        • Profile photo of Laura Murray Laura Murray
          May 7, 2013 at 7:53 am

          Haha, yes, Norman, I am not bashing on digital whatsoever!!! I, TOO, DO shoot digital!! I shoot both!

          P.S. Norman, you live in Southern California! Jealous! California is so beautiful and such a great place to be as a photographer. I live in Colorado, which is beautiful too! But I DO love California!!!!!

          • Norman Silva
            May 7, 2013 at 9:59 am


            I don’t or didn’t think you were bashing digital – it must have been Peter:)

            I believe with film and digital, it’s not a case of “either/or” – both have their strengths and weaknesses and to each their own.

            California certainly is a photographer’s paradise.

  23. 23) Johny Wong
    May 5, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Hi Laura,

    I love the color of your photos. It is very different from the color that is used by most wedding photographers in my country.

    As your preference of using film, I can’t give any comment because I’ve never used film. I like to give comment about your writing style. In the article above, your style is similar to Nasim, Roman, and other contributors, but when you reply a comment, your style is very different. I can read a lot of cheerfulness, spontaneity, and smiley :):):)

    While I like Nasim’s style of writing, I think a different style would be nice. In you next article, I hope you will use that cheerful style.

    • May 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Thank Johny! Yes, I do write different than Nasim. I am working on more articles and absolutely, I am very cheerful! That is just very much my personality. I am glad you are enjoying the posts so far.

  24. 24) Arpit
    May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Hello Laura,

    Your photographs are quite amazing – I love the look you are getting using the film. Personally I’m not a fan of the ultra clean look of the digital images we get everywhere but that’s just me because everyone else seems to be in awe of them – good for them.

    My first experience with photography was with film with a nikon SLR camera – it brought great success as we were able to sell thousands of photographs in our Uni festival as we worked as event photographers. Gods knows how we managed to pull out so many useable photographs because I had very little idea about the little things like aperture and shutter speeds.

    May be some time in future i will go back to film and produce some wonderful images.

    Your doing a good job – keep it up and will look forward for more posts from you.


  25. May 6, 2013 at 4:01 am

    Absolutely dreamy pictures. I have my old Nikon SLR with me, let me dust it and click a few rolls, if for nothing else just for the fun of remembering old times..

  26. 26) Peter
    May 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Ok, color film nostalgia types. How’s this bit of reality?

    1 roll of 35mm Ektar Color Negative Film, 36 exposures – $4.99 (B&H)
    1 A&I mailer for above – $13.49 (7-14 days delivery) (B&H)

    TOTAL COST excluding shipping and taxes for ONE ROLL of developed film – $18.48 (probably over $20 with S&H and tax)

    How’s that for nostalgia?

    • 26.1) max
      May 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Luckily prices are much lower here in europe.

      How much money do you spend to software, digital equipment, new cameras, etc. How much time do you spend selecting your pictures because you took much too many shots? How much time do you spend to edting pictures and learning software? Time is money. Working analog means that you pay what you use, so you think twice efore you press the button. For me that is a good thing. Sometimes analog just works out better but it is not for everybody.

      • 26.1.1) Peter
        May 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

        I’m retired and love to use software to edit my photos. Time is not money for me.

        I think 3-5 times before I “press the button.”

        You are fortunate that prices are lower in Europe for film, that is.

      • 26.1.2) Neil
        May 7, 2013 at 7:25 am

        There is some difference in your analogy, though. A lot of the computer equipment can be used for other purposes which extends its usefulness. And in most cases you’d need it all anyway to scan in film for most uses. I wouldn’t imagine trying to do sports or wildlife photography in film these days. Thinking twice means missing the peak action.

        Film is OK. I still think about using it but mostly for novelty. Digital these days has more usable dynamic range than film and the quality is excellent. Film is fun, though. And if someone finds that film fits their style then more power to them! It isn’t about film vs digital but what fits your artistic vision.

        • Max
          May 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

          That is true. For my paid jobs I use digital camera’s but for my free work or just for pleasure I love film.

          In general I do not have the feeling that photographing became cheaper in the digital time. In the film time a professional camera could be for a lifetime or after 10 years you could sell it for more than you bought it!

          Of course for sports or fast shooting you don’t want to use film and analog still ads something special to your photographs that digital can’t. Some people like it, some don’t.

      • 26.1.3) Max
        May 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

        That is true. For my paid jobs I use digital camera’s but for my free work or just for pleasure I love film.

        In general I do not have the feeling that photographing became cheaper in the digital time. In the film time a professional camera could be for a lifetime or after 10 years you could sell it for more than you bought it!

        Of course for sports or fast shooting you don’t want to use film and analog still ads something special to your photographs that digital can’t. Some people like it, some don’t.

  27. May 8, 2013 at 3:54 am

    if i was getting images like that i’d shoot film too!!

  28. May 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I realize that film vs digital is a personal preference. A side point:

    Although digital can for sure promote sloppy technique, I believe it also has allowed many people to become much better photographers much faster than they ever could have in the film days. The ease of digital and the relative low cost (after you’ve shelled out for the gear) encourages people to shoot often and to experiment. You can make your mistakes fast and, hopefully, learn from them. On the other hand, the many tools of digital post production often seem to get used a bit vigorously, particularly those sharpening and clarity sliders. I think that accounts for some of that crunchiness that gets pegged as the digital look.

    And a not so nostalgic reflection on film. I worked at a large magazine company for nearly 25 years as a staff editor and spent quite a bit of time in the field (mostly during the film era) working with freelance photographers we hired to shoot travel, food, garden and home stories. And I can tell you with some confidence that at a professional level, most of those photographers shot a lot of film, a whole lot of film, to make sure they got the photo. In the words of Jay Maisel, their motto was “bracket the hell out of it.” We paid some pretty glorious bills for film and processing. Despite, or perhaps because of their experience level, for critical shots—covers, home interiors and so forth—most of the photographers we hired chimped using Polaroid backs. It wasn’t uncommon for a photographer to shoot a dozen polaroids before breaking out the film backs for the Hasselblad. And then the photographer might burn through four rolls to ensure the shot was there somewhere. Any shot we selected for publication underwent quite expensive post production for spotting, color correction, etc.

    • 28.1) Peter
      May 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      You said it all. Case closed.

      I worked a summer in the New York Post art department and saw what they had to go through to get a photo ready for print, just as you said.

      Photoshop would have made life much easier for them and Ansel Adams, I suspect.

  29. 29) Yeow Ming
    May 10, 2013 at 1:17 am


    I am a film user too, great to know that there are pros out there still endorsing film.
    Search for ‘koh yeow ming’ on Fb, I have most of my albums there.

    Feel free to criticise and comment:)

  30. May 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    You do not get rid of the oven and outdoor grill just because you bought a microwave!

  31. May 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    “I love not being able to see the photo when I take it.”

    “I love that it takes time to get my film back”

    Interesting article that was probably written to create controversy. You forgot these words. I love that fact that my slide film has deteriorated while sitting in all those trays.

  32. 32) Paul
    June 4, 2013 at 3:07 am

    “How many of you have ink-filled fountain pens to write with?”

    I do. It makes me write slower and there is something about that connection between eye and hand that helps me focus, ha-ha, better when I write.

    It’s the same with film, which I shoot occasionally in my much-loved Nikon FM2. Film makes me work slower. I don’t bang away like I do on the D7000.

    I love the grain – don’t have to add it. I love the combination of the Nikon, a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm 1.4 and Portra VC160.

    As a journalist, digital cameras and audio have utterly transformed my work. Infinitely less hassle. I shoot travel for national weekly and newsprint being what it is, digital’s various imperfections are not an issue :-)

    I vowed after scanning 25 years’ worth of slides and negs that I was done with film. Until I took the D7000 and a Zeiss 25mm on a trip to Amsterdam in April. What a total pita, lugging that lot around.

    A week later I shot a roll of Portra and fell in love all over again.

    The D7000 has been swapped for a Fuji X100S. That’s my travel/reportage camera. The FM2 is for *me*.

  33. 33) Sandra M.
    June 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Your work is just amazing! Such an inspiring article. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work!

  34. 34) Andrew
    July 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I have to laugh at this whole blog….excuse me….I shot professional film weddings from 1975 to about
    2002….used hasselblads and bronicas…fuji and kodak film emulsions….yes , you had to be a much more
    precise and careful photographer…there were no retakes and you couldn’t see if you made a mistake…although we did use polaroid backs from time to time to check lighting…esp if the shoot was made in consistent conditions.

    Point one….whats old is new and whats new is old….why do people let themselves get caught in the latest
    “fad”….its like granite counters are now passe…but two years ago…all the young professionals had to have them or else the house was “old fashioned”…now concrete and butcher block are in….

    Good photography does not depend so much on the medium as the eye of the photographer, and
    BTW, if you are scanning your negatives…you are not doing “film photography”….you need to print
    directly from the negative if you wish to claim this unique position for your self. If you are letting a lab
    make the printing decisions for you…then you are not the sole creator of the image…since their input
    is critical. And from many years of experience …all labs vary from month to month with their color and
    consistency of output…chemicals must be freshened frequently or things change radically….you are
    at their mercy.

    Even up until about 10 years ago…I was shooting medium format film alongside digital files because I
    did not trust the digital process. Now….i would never go back….the consistency and flexibility of digital creation has gotten to point that no film process can rival it. Heck you can buy software that will give
    you the look of any particular film from the past you like. Exposure is still important and there are many
    digital photographers who do not understand correct digital exposure.

    If you want to get closer to a film look, try some of the older, great digital bodies like the Canon original
    1Ds…I have images from that camera that are unique in their “filmlke” quality and a look that still cannot
    be rivaled….as long as you stay under 400 iso. Also use some of the high speed primes wide open…so
    you get that filmlike softness and that narrow depth of field characteristic of med format cameras.
    There is “no magic” in shooting film….the only magic is in the skill of the craftsman.

    • 34.1) Micah
      July 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      “Good photography does not depend so much on the medium as the eye of the photographer”


      ” if you are scanning your negatives…you are not doing “film photography”….you need to print”

      …now I take issue with this and your critique of labs in general. Back in the day, the bulk of wedding photographers shooting color usually just didn’t know crap about post and relied heavily on the skill and expertise of their lab. These days, a lab is just a dumb automated process. Or at least that’s how professionals should be using them (notice how all the “pro” labs are going out of business? It’s not because there are less pros!). I have a color calibrated work-flow and I know what I’m going to get when I send it to print. There are measurable differences from day to day, even with the most consistent labs…but the ability to measure a difference doesn’t mean it’s one you can see. These digital RA4 print machines are magic! I do wish they were higher resolution, but for going big, they’re great!

      Comments like the ones of the OP about noticing a difference when their photographer “went digital” are usually just the results of the process of a photographer changing to a completely unfamiliar medium AND the old salts who never had to deal with anything after capture themselves. Some folks were able to adapt, regardless of age, so maybe the “old” jab is unfair. There are plenty of technically incompetent young photographers as well.

      You sound like you’ve adapted and good on your for it! But there was absolutely a crop of older pros who found it very hard to transition to digital. They created quite a bit of FUD and rhetoric while fighting the transition, and much of it has survived through today. Things like the dynamic range of film (it’s not that great, and slide was always less than digital), color response, resolution, and the quality of camera gear to name a few.

      “Exposure is still important and there are many digital photographers who do not understand correct digital exposure.”

      There are many photographers who did not understand exposure on film! They just had stellar labs! Or labs that were compatible with their habits.

      Amen to the “magic” comments. It was never there. It was just ignorance. “Bug” peddled as “feature”.

      In the end, it’s the pictures that matter, not the bullshit. But I find it hard not to try to comment on the bullshit, hoping that people can learn to see through it. It’s a losing battle, but I can’t help myself.

    • 34.2) Erik
      May 31, 2015 at 8:47 am

      So I’m two years late to the party, but this post is too stupid to ignore.

      “If you want to get closer to a film look, try older digital bodies.”

      The “film look” is primarily a function of color negative film’s exposure latitude, not “softness” or depth of field. Using an older digital camera will give you the narrow exposure latitude and limited tonality that makes digital unappealing to many people – pretty much the opposite of your stated intention. Depth of field is a function of the lens speed/length and the film/sensor size. It has nothing to do with the medium.

      Digital is a perfectly two-dimensional medium. When a point becomes overexposed, it clicks over to a white pixel and is lost forever. Film is an actual three-dimensional object. When a film image is overexposed, you’re left with a thicker negative that still retains the data.

      I shoot both pro-grade digital and several film formats. If you’re going to laugh at an article, maybe you should think things through before you proudly display your lack of knowledge.

  35. October 3, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Great article, the images speak for themselves. I shoot colour print film almost exclusively in available light, which limits my scope as a commercial photographer. So I have a question: Whats your take on video lights?
    Seems to me it would make metering easier in low light situations as the light source is constant, or should I just learn how to use flash? I have so far only shot one wedding, with Portra 400, and although the results were OK my little flash light was Ill equipped for night time work.
    I am relatively new to photography, my first Camera was a Pentax DSLR (I’ve also tried a Canon and a Nikon) but switched to film when I compared the results. I would like to pursue a career as a commercial photographer who shoots film exclusively, supplemental to my little retail business, and hence my interest in your articles and work. Cheers, Barry.

  36. 36) Wahba
    January 13, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    The best references originate from individuals who have utilized the photographic artist. Assuming that you knew about them through companions, they come exceptionally respected. When you discovered them through an inquiry, ask to see example pictures and converse with spouses or others for whom they have worked previously.

  37. 37) Paul B
    February 8, 2014 at 3:55 am

    A very interesting article and supporting comments, it really is a subjective area. I use to be a very keen amateur, but digital has lost my interest more and more. I use to shoot weddings with a Nikon F100 and always had superb results. When digital came along I stepped in with the D200, yes it is great to see immediately the picture you have just taken, but I got so depressed with the inconsistent exposure variations and colour cast, I just did not trust it enough for weddings. As time went by, I was too nervous to spend more money on upgrading it, if the results were going to be similar.
    If you use film, you know the quality of the picture is second to none, you think about each shot and you are not using your camera like a machine gun, hoping for 10% being good. If you want to spend hours or days behind the computer playing to get the perfect picture, you can still have your film pictures put on disc.
    Maybe I am just old, but I am not always convinced that technology is better, especially with the built in factor of equipment short life cycle and if you are not upgrading your camera equipment you have to upgrade your computer and software. Manufacturers and retailers love digital photographers.

    Film will have my vote for many years to come, as long as it is available.

  38. 38) Mark
    May 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Great article! There’s definitely an intangible quality of MF film that digital can’t replicate. You should submit to Shotkit.com – we need more film shooters!

  39. 39) David Reid
    June 25, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Nice article and very timely for me. I came to photography later in life. I owned a few film cameras over the years, I just took snapshots and photography wasn’t something that I was serious about. That changed a few years ago and photography has become a full time pursuit for me. I have been fortunate enough to make some progress in what is a very noisy and busy world. Since delving in to this pursuit, I find that I spend the majority of my time studying and trying to learn. Cameras, software, website, business practices, etc. It gets overwhelming at times. I suppose that in any trade one has to pay their dues. For me the post processing is the most distasteful aspect and the area that has been the hardest to learn. A few months ago, I came in to possession of an old view camera that had been in my wife’s family. I carried it to an expert to learn more about it. The first time that I looked through that ground glass I felt that I was being shown a new world. Soon after that, I met someone who had been a successful pro during the film days and who has become a mentor to me. I also had another friend give me a darkroom full of equipment. I honestly have no idea where this is going. My work for pay is all digital and I have to suspect that it will remain that way. What I can say with certainty is that I find the work with film has been much easier and satisfying to learn. It is almost therapeutic after breaking my hands on a computer for hours on end. The first time that I saw a print come to life in the tray was magic for me! So far I haven’t achieved any great results on film, but that doesn’t concern me as I am only getting started at this point. There’s no question in my mind that technically speaking, digital is superior, however when I look at images like the ones above I can easily see that there is far more to great images than accuracy and clarity.

  40. 40) Shannon
    December 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Do you shoot slide film? The dynamic range of slide film is sometimes lower than digital.

  41. 41) Matthew Jones
    July 9, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Laura this is very useful, and inspiring- thank you! I shoot weddings part-time and have always used digital. I have some film cameras and am now looking forward to experimenting with some film at my next wedding. If they’re useable then great, if not, well I’ll still have my 5d to work off. Incidentally, I recently had some Mamiya RB67 shots back and the quality wasn’t good- I might try a different process shop as it’s not stuff that’s down to me alone (really grainy scans and over-exposed). Thanks again!

  42. 42) Stephen
    August 5, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Interesting. I also shoot film, I understand exactly what you mean about the Christmas like experience, I wrote something similar the other day. Sometimes its a pair of tacky socks when you see that picture you though was going to be perfect, other times its the present you were hoping for but didn’t think you would get and its so exciting. I develop and scan my own film though, I’m not sure if I could trust a lab, not knowing all the little mistakes that you can make developing film.

  43. 43) Russ
    August 28, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I still shoot film exclusively for my personal and professional work.


  44. 44) Russ
    August 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Interestingly enough, I have had a few brides insist on film only. And a couple wanted B/W film only :-)


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