April 30, 2020
In the last few years there seems to have been a resurgence in couples requesting that photographers include film in their wedding day photography packages. It’s funny, but most of my couples, know what the difference between film and digital photography is. Nor, can they explain the benefits of having a photographer who can produce images using both on your wedding day. Truth is, so many of us have enough experience with our cell phone cameras and have tried to edit photos enough to recognize the value of a true professional photographer and their ability to shoot consistently high quality photos, that all look like they belong together. Most commonly, I have to educate the parents of my couples on the real costs behind wedding photography. So many people, of a certain generation, are still operating under the guise of, “why should it cost that, when I spent $X on mine in 1982.” When you begin shopping around for the right wedding photographer for your big day, you will want to make sure you know the basics first. So, if you haven’t read my previous blog on wedding photography “Learning the Lingo and Picking a Style,” you will want to do that before continuing. But if you are informed, then continue on. For today’s blog, I teamed up with one of photo besties, Delaney Dobson, the owner of Delaney Dobson Photography, to show you the difference between digital and film photography.
Rewind to the early 2000s and most people in the photography business would have told you that old fashioned film photography was a thing of the past and likely to never come around again. The idea being that digital photography, the wave of the future, would give everyone a faster and more affordable method for creating high end photography. But, like so much in the world, what goes around comes around. And, maybe it started a few years ago with the resurgence of the Polaroid and the popularity of Polaroid’s Minis, but people love the idea of a grainy artsy film photo. According to Delaney:
“I went to a university that still had a working darkroom and lab. Like all of the students around me, I learned to develop my own film and create my own prints using silver gelatin paper. The work was expensive…especially for a college student. While we didn’t have to pay for the chemicals used to develop the film, we did purchase our own paper and 35mm or 120mm film…which can get pretty pricey. We were told that even though it is more expensive than its digital counterpart, film was more sought after…because…simply put, there is nothing like it.”
Fast forward to today, and there are tons of film/digital hybrid photographers out there. But for couples beginning the wedding photography shopping process, knowing the difference between film and digital photography is clutch.
Natural lighting is when you do not need to use a flash because there is enough light provided by the sun. A flash might be used, or it requires certain settings on a camera to ensure that the photo is not under exposed. These settings for low light will often make images more grainy. This is why it’s important to have a photographer who can “jump” back and forth between film and digital mediums to take advantage of the different light available on your wedding day.
To really see the difference between film and digital photography (digital on the left, film on the right) in these two photos, look first at the brides dress and the texture of the sand. You’ll notice in these images, shot in natural light (aka: no flash), that the details of the lace pop much more so in the film photo.
Knowing when to choose the film over digital formats is key. Some photographers will shoot and edit for the light later. And in some situations this is truly the best situation and gives the best result. But it’s also nice to have the options available to you when selecting photography that you want to include in your wedding album or hang in your living room.
It’s the grainy quality of film photography that lends itself to descriptions such as vintage, timeless and fine art. It’s a subtle difference, and hard to spot online. But with a physical print in front of you the timeless grainy quality of film photography will be mosts evident when you are looking for the difference between film and digital photography.
Many of you are probably thinking what I am: what’s the big deal? Can’t you open a photo in Photoshop (or Lightroom) and edit it to appear as if it’s film? This is true, it can be done. But it will be time consuming and expensive for every photo to be edited like this. And when most wedding day galleries involve thousands of photos being culled (removing the ones that are bad–closed eyes, squinting, your uncle making a funny gesture in the background) and edited, you can imagine the hours and days that would go into editing that number of photos. Take the photos below for examples and the color analysis provided by Delaney:
“The photos below were taken similarly but with two different cameras. The digital was edited while the film was not. The main difference that I see in the images is the color. In digital, the yellows look more yellow that I know they were that day…the greens are just a little too cool for my taste…but in the film image, the yellows and greens are exactly as they should be…making me believe that film can blend light and color just a little better than digital.”
Thank you to the photographers who allow us to use their images on our site:
Ashley Mac Photographs, Heather Palecek Photography, Idalia Photography, Jessica Erb Photography, Susan Elizabeth Photography, Delaney Dobson Photography, Ann Coen Photography, Lovesick Inc., K Hulett Photography & Melanie Cassie Photography
(973) 477-1392 | firstname.lastname@example.org