The age old debate continues …
Which one is better? Film or digital?
Which one should you choose if you are a bride? Which medium should you use if you are a photographer?
I was recently asked for a side by side comparison of my own work from one a bride looking for her dream photographer for her wedding day, and I thought this might be helpful …
First, here are a few examples. I rarely shoot the same thing on both film and digital these days (spoiler alert: I am a film lover) but here are some from years ago when I did. The first question is, are you more drawn to the images on the right or the left?
The images on the left are all digital and the images on the right are film scans, from the lab I use, Richard Photo Lab.
For my digital photos, I use an editing company that is far better at editing digital photos than I am, and still there is just no comparison in my opinion. Here are the top reasons I love and shoot film:
- It’s SO much more forgiving of skin tones, wrinkles and blemishes. Who doesn’t want that?!
- It softens the shadows without looking forced. The technical language for this is the dynamic range. Film is much more forgiving of harsh shadows and bright light.
- Film allows me more flexibility. I know that I can still create absolute magic in my images no matter the time of day or how harsh the light. When I was only shooting digitally, I would occasionally panic when there was NO shade or the ceremony had the brides face in the harsh sun and the grooms face in a complete shadow. Film allows me to tell the story more confidently because it’s just better at handling those extremes.
- It’s my medium of choice. As an artist, a photographer, and a creative, it’s just the medium I’ve found that allows me to produce my very best work. Sure, I could save my pennies, shoot digitally, and still have a very successful business … but I would feel like I was selling myself short and not presenting my best work.
- Film has given me back the passion and love for what I do. I was feeling burnt out and exhausted, frustrated with the results I was getting and the amount I was working … and switching to film lit a fire within me that has me creatively inspired again.
- It’s timeless. I can’t say enough about this one! I’ve been capturing weddings since 2005 and I’ve watched SO many trends come and go with digital editing. I myself was guilty of it! One of the major reasons I switched to film for my clients is because I wanted to start offering a product that stood the test of time. I wanted to know that 10-20 years down the road my brides would still be loving their images and feel proud of them! Film is the only thing that’s stood that test of time. It’s classic. Timeless. Beautiful.
Still not sure? Here are a few more images …
Can you tell that the image on the left has blown out highlights (the bright spots) just trying to expose for the bride’s face? There’s zero information in those blown out highlights. The image on the right is a similar situation but the film handles those highlights so much better and still maintains some soft detail with the highlighted areas. One more reason I love film … it’s so forgiving!
Check out the way film handles light …
Can you see the difference? Look at the shadows and the midtones. Can you see where sometimes it’s not so ideal to have THAT much information in one small square?
I learned in the darkroom during my degree, and I remember just how celebrated it was when digital cameras were gaining traction. We were all amazed at how much information one frame could hold. You can literally take a photo of the entire reception and zoom in to find a fly on a glass across the room. That’s amazing!
But … when it comes to your face, that’s not so amazing. Haha. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the softer, more flattering option. Please and thank you!
** If you’re a bride and you’re still not sure if a film photographer or a digital photographer is right for you, schedule a quick call here and I’d be happy to chat through the advantages and disadvantages with you. Completely complimentary. I want to help you find the perfect vendor team for you and your wedding day, no matter who it is!
** If you’re a photographer and you’re considering switching to film or you’re curious about integrating your film work into your weddings, check out our education shop here and join the community to receive free resources and trainings!