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Shooting Film FAQ

When people find out I shoot film, they are very intrigued and often ask me may questions about the process of shooting film, my reason, and how it works. I decided to write a blog post (it is a little lengthy but I promise it is interesting!) to answer a few of these questions. So here we go!

  1. Why do you shoot film?

When I began shooting weddings, I was always trying to figure out my editing style. That is, what do I want my overall images to look like-do I want them dark and moody, do I want a matted look, or do I want a more natural feel. After three years, I finally came to the conclusion that I loved the look of film. I went ahead and bought some film presets (a preset is an action you can apply to an image to change the way it looks) and spent that year editing away like film.

But something was still missing. I still would look at other photographers work and be more drawn to it and I finally realized it was because they were shooting on actual film, not just emulating it. So after careful research and a lot of debating, I bought a medium format camera, a Contax 645, and some film. I had no idea what I was doing at first and was terrified, but I read as much as I could about shooting film and definitely practiced a lot.

Once I started shooting film, I fell in love. I fell in love with the aesthetic it provides, the dreamy bokeh (how smooth the background looks) and the colors! Film has such a unique look and I had found what I wanted my images and brand to look like. Not only did I fall in love with the look, but I also fell in love with the process. I was forced to slow down, focus on my images, really curate a wedding day, and think. In a digital age where you can take bursts of images on your phones, or rapid fire on a DSLR, to have to slow down and make each image meaningful really settled with my soul. It made me appreciate the art of wedding photography and helped me become the wedding photographer I didn’t know I always wanted to be.


  1. Will my whole wedding be shot on film?

In a short answer, no. Although film is wonderful and beautiful, it is also expensive and requires a lot of natural light. I use film for controlled environment pictures like details (shoes, flowers, dress, jewelry, etc) and portraits. I tend to shoot all bride and groom portraits on film as well as bridal party images and shoot some digital images as back up.


  1. Are there different kinds of film, and what do you use?

There are different kinds of films with the two main film types being Fuji and Kodak. Fuji has the “light and airy” look that many people often use to describe film. I mainly shoot Kodak Portra 400 because I like the versatility of the film and the skin tones. Below you will find to different images, both in a similar setting, a vineyard and in hops, shot on the same day, with two different film types. 

Suttons Bay Wedding

Example of an image shot on Fuji 400 film. See more of the wedding here.


Northern Michigan Engagement Session

Image shot on Portra 400 (same day as wedding image above). See more of this engagement session here.

  1. Do you develop it yourself?

The number one question most people ask when they realize I am shooting “old school film”, is “Do you develop it yourself?!” As much as I would love to say I have always shot film and know how to develop film in a dark room, I do not develop it myself and have never been in a dark room before. I send my film to the awesome people at The FIND Lab (which stands for Film Is Not Dead!) where they use scanners to scan my film. Once it is scanned, I get an email where I download them as JPEGs. I can then edit these film scans (very minimally though) to my liking. It is such an intriguing and exciting process and another reason why I love shooting film. It is like Christmas morning every time I receive the download email!


  1. Isn’t it expensive?

Yes, and no. I have built the cost for film into my wedding packages so the cost of buying film, shooting film, mailing it, and getting it scanned is all covered. But to me, it is worth it. The beauty of it is, I can shoot as many, or as few rolls as I want, and shooting film has made me fall in love with photography two fold, and there is no price tag for that. I have shot at most 15 rolls of film on a wedding, and on average probably shoot 10 rolls. There are 16 images on each roll so (where are my fellow math people?!) that means 160 images out of a gallery are on film. But those are the 160 images I love the most-portraits of you and your new spouse!


  1. How many of your images on your website/blog are film?

As you are looking around my website at my blog and the slider on my home page, I would say that 60% of the images are film. Most of the images on my wedding blogs are film while 100% of the images on my engagement session blogs are shot on film. If you follow me on Instagram (@carriechouse) 99% of those images are film.


  1. Will you still use a digital camera?

Yes! I will use a digital camera for your ceremony, family photos, some portraits, and your reception. This makes me what is called a hybrid photographer.  I would love to one day be a full film wedding photographer, but I do not know if that is in my future.


  1. So is film better than digital, and why should I hire you?

There is no way to say film is better than digital, or digital is better than film. They are both so very different in the images they produce. As a potential bride or groom researching wedding photographers, it is all about your perspective. Do you like the look of the images and style of my photos (or other photographers)? What specifically do you like about these photos that you see? Have you heard from friends or family good referrals about working with me? Do my packages fit in your budget? Shooting film is a vital piece to my branding, my business, and who I am as a photographer, and it is certainly not the only reason you should hire me. Shooting film has potentially drawn you to my images, but hopefully referrals from other clients, and my professionalism and dedication lead you to finding that I am the right fit for you. With so many photographers in the wedding industry, it is important that you find the right fit for you and find someone you are going to enjoy working with, who is in your budget, and produces work that you love, even if it is not me.


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