It always been in my blood–film photography….I have always loved deeply the grainy movement filled images that look and feel like film. I tried for several years to create them digitally. I kept the images that so many would have thrown out because of their lack of sharpness and focus. I have always fondly referred to my work as “emotionally sharp” thanks to the famous co-founder of wedding photojournalism Joe Bussink. What I realized quickly is as much as you can mimic it–it just isn’t the same–it doesn’t have that timeless quality that film does. Here are some of my attempts at making digital feel like film.
For many months I have been admiring other peoples wedding photographs (Ryan Ray, Jen Huang, Bryce Covey, Corbin Gurkin etc) and feeling very unsatisfied with mine. It wasn’t the people I was unsatisfied with as I have amazing clients–it was the photos. Continually asking myself why can’t I make those colors? Why aren’t my images creamy and soft like those? Why doesn’t my light look like that? What am I doing wrong? It took a long time for me to realize all of the photographs I was pulling were film photos. At first I resisted still thinking it must be my processing–that if I found the magic secret I could make the images that I so longed to make. I finally just accepted the idea that film and digital are truly different.
I recently attended a workshop at Inspire Photo Retreats taught by the talented and ever so sweet Arielle Doneson who is a hybrid film and digital photographer in Boston, MA. I can’t explain the true depth of inspiration I felt that day. I love weddings–truly I am so lucky and I adore what I do….but this made me excited about weddings again. Excited about the idea of making images that I love and that my clients love. Images with emotion, and movement, and depth and a romantic etherial feeling that only film provides. My heart has been singing with big dreams ever since. I am the type of woman that when my mind gets set on something there is no stopping it….it will be sink or swim but this girl is going to try. So I rented what would be considered the Ferrari of film cameras….the contax 645 with the zeiss 80mm 2.0 lens. Sure enough film photography stole my heart–handling that camera was pure bliss. So I set out to do what I do–I asked several of my current clients to go out in the freezing cold -2 degree weather to let me experiment on them….knowing very well that its possible none of the photos would come out. Sure enough this left handed girl rolled like 4 rolls backwards–but rolled 4 properly as well. So I sent the film to the best in the business Richard Photo Labs in California and I hoped like hell there were actually useable images on those 4 rolls. Richard photo lab did not disappoint. While my images do not yet look like the greats in the film world–you can see it–that glimmer of potential–that glimpse of those beautiful greens and blues in the colors–the softer creamier feel….with a little more practice I might just get it right–and stop rolling the film backwards 🙂 Here are some of my favorite shots from those 4 rolls.
So why film you ask? The range of film is so much greater than that of digital–it processes light differently–less likely to blow out in the sun than a digital image is. The colors are just different–and I love them. The grainy rich feeling to film that you just cant get regularly with digital. My list goes on and on. Don’t worry I wont suddenly use film at your wedding–I need lots more practice before I shoot a wedding on film. I will however be buying the Contax 645 and zeiss 80mm and continuing to practice on any willing victims.