Friday, February 14, 2014

my first all-film photo shoot

got my scans back yesterday from my first shoot with all-film. i'm obsessed. completely hooked.

you can see all the photos here.

let me explain a little bit about why i've fallen so hard for film so quickly.

first, the process of shooting with film is entirely different than with digital. when i'm shooting digital, i can take hundreds and hundreds of photos- and i do. with film, every single time i push that shutter button, it's costing me money. a roll of professional grade film costs me about $9 (and $16 to develop). that's $9 for 36 exposures, or images. unless i want to break the bank, i have to be so much more intentional, thoughtful, and mindful of the shots i'm composing. shooting film makes me slow way down and patiently wait for that exact right moment to click the shutter. and speaking of shutter- the sound of a film shutter is so fun to hear. it's kinda loud and it sounds like it's telling me that "yup! you just sealed the deal with that shot- for better or for worse!" the drama of it all is exciting.

there's also an element of trust and almost faith that goes along with shooting film. when i'm testing for proper exposure with a digital camera, i take my best guess at what the settings need to be, take a test shot, look at the back to see how close i was, and then continue to adjust accordingly until it's just right. but there's no lcd screen on the back of a film slr. so the way i get my settings right for lighting is with the light meter. i'm still learning how to use it and how it responds in every different lighting situation but, for the most part, it's pretty simple. once i take a reading with the meter, i enter into my camera what it says (usually over-exposing), take a deep breath, and trust that i've done it right and the photo will be exposed correctly. in short, with film, you can't just take a stab in the dark again and again and have it all work out perfectly in the end. you really have to know your stuff or else nothing will turn out right. i like knowing that i know how to not only shoot manually well but can do it even when i can't check the back of the camera screen. let's be honest- it's an ego thing.

and then there's the post-processing and editing- or almost complete lack thereof. i've actually never spent tons of time editing photos i've shot digitally. for a full family shoot, there's probably 2-3 hours of time sitting at the computer afterwards which, compared with lots of photographers, isn't too bad. i'll maybe take 400 photos during a family shoot, go through them all, and select the best 50-60 to edit for the client. that's the most time-consuming part. but 50 keepers out of 400 isn't a great percentage. in contrast, i only shot one roll (which actually already had some shots taken) for my film session. i took 33 photos and ended up keeping 25. and the other 8 didn't cut it only because i was manually focusing and so the focus was a bit soft and not sharp enough. 25 out of 33 is pretty dang good, i'd say! again, it's because of how much more focused and intentional film is that gives me such better percentages of keepers :)

so i received my scans from alpine film lab, discarded the 8 that weren't awesome and....DONE-ZO! film is just so rich and beautiful all on it's own that there's nothing i needed to do to edit them! NOTHING. that means almost zero time spent sitting behind the computer sorting through hundreds of images, correcting color, exposure, and white balance, etc, etc, etc. and let me tell ya- getting those images back and seeing them for the first time felt like christmas morning! it was so fun to view the results of the shoot after waiting a few days and being so pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out.

i definitely need to keep practicing and have a few more shoots lined up to do just that but i think this may be a real game-changer for me. i've got the film bug and can't wait to keep shooting and experimenting!


Ashlee said...

I took my first photo class last semester at college and it was a film class. I started my knowledge at the ground level and worked up. I learned how to process film from start to finish and it made me respect film photographer so much more. It truly is a time consuming, sometimes frustrating, totally wonderful process. I don't love how costly it is, but I did love the experience. I do agree about the intention that goes behind using film. So amazing. I might just have to buy a roll for fun and see what I can do with it.


Japolina said...

My son is in high school and is taking a photography class. They shoot on totally manual cameras with black and white film and they develop and enlarge themselves. It is so old school but so wonderful. He is really learning an art

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