film wedding photographer

All of your questions about film wedding photography answered here

what is the difference between digital and film wedding photography?

Film wedding photography is when a photographer uses what is called an analog camera to capture photos of a wedding day. An analog camera has many different names and kinds. There are 35 mm, 120 mm, Half frame, etc. The camera takes actual film (a rolled up piece of plastic with a photosensitive gel coating) and when the shutter opens to let in light, the light creates an image on that gel emulsion. It is a very organic process.

The main thing that I think couples really are drawn to with film photography for their wedding day is the feeling of nostalgia that it creates, the softness and the grain or texture you can achieve with the medium.

Digital wedding photography is when a photographer uses a digital camera to capture photos. There are many kinds of digital cameras, but the cameras that are used typically can shoot in any lighting situation, have low-light capabilities, and can track moving subjects really well. The images are captured electronically onto a memory card called an SD card or CF card.

These images can replicate the look of film if the photographer knows how to edit and shoot in a way that lends itself to the look of film. Typically digital images have a much more "perfect" or sharp look to them. Again, this depends on the camera, lens, and how the photographer shoots in a given lighting situation.

Yes - absolutely! Typically people worry that shooting film in low light as it is difficult, however, if you have flash, or if there is enough ambient light during the reception, you can shoot film the entire time. Preparation and knowing your gear helps a lot.

I personally prefer to shoot a combination of digital and film to give my couples the best possible image. Mainly because I can push my digital much further in low light situations. I have found that I reach for my digital camera less and less.

I recommend thinking about the space ahead of time and planning what kind of film and gear to bring so that shooting the entire wedding day on film is easier.

Can you shoot a whole wedding with a film camera?

No - The hardest part is getting over the fear of shooting film. If you already know how to shoot a manual digital camera, you should have no problem shooting film. My top pieces of advice:

1) Never underexpose film - you can't fix it. Film is safe to over expose a few stops, so don't worry about accidentally over exposing.

2) Learn to use a light meter.. trust me, it is easier to learn than you think. just one youtube video and you've got it.

3) Still not convinced? Take my course below:

Is film photography harder to do than digital?


Short answer is yes - film is more expensive than digital per shot.

On average, one 35 mm roll costs anywhere from 12-18 dollars to buy. Then to develop and scan, it costs 20 dollars.

That means each roll will cost you 32-38 just for 36 shots. If you shoot medium format, it is more expensive per shot since you have fewer shots on the roll. I recommend adding a film package before offering it to everyone. Allow clients to choose it before incurring the cost if you're worried about spending too much on film.


A digital camera is a machine that is trying to replicate what it thinks it is seeing. It basically takes light and turns it into digital squares - this creates a rendered picture that sometimes looks to sharp, too perfect.

Film, on the other hand, uses a gel emulsion on a thin piece of plastic basically. When light hits it, it is more of an organic natural rendering of the scene in front of it. Any imperfections on the lens, shake of the hand, and depth of field is also imparted on the photo. It just isn't as perfect and defined as a digital camera. Because of this difference in how the image is captured, you will see that there is a difference between digital and film.


This totally depends on the wedding, however on average, I will shoot around 25 rolls of film for a full wedding day.

When I started, I shot 2 - 4 rolls mainly because I was getting used to managing both digital and film and film just seemed daunting and time consuming.

Now because I rely on my hand-held light meter, I can be confident in shooting and knowing quickly what settings to put my film camera on and know that the shot will come out properly exposed.


Creative fulfilment, and to best serve my couples. When I graduated high school, the first class that I signed up for in college was film photography. I have always been fascinated with it and wanted to do film photography.

I loved the magic that happened when the image appeared on the paper in the darkroom. It was like I had worked some kind of miracle. I couldn't explain the delicious softness of the image, but it got me to my core the first time I saw my images appear on paper.

Early on in my wedding photography career, I didn't think to use film as it was slower and more deliberate. I need to work quickly on wedding day. However, I found that when I started shooting film, I became more deliberate, and took much better shots by focusing on waiting for the good moments.

Film is now my inspiration. I am always wanting to see what new and unique or unexpected image I can create by mixing light and lens together.

Film also endures trends and editing styles. It will look good 30 years from now, and that is what I want to ensure for my couples.

why do wedding photographers shoot film?

Film is made of a transparent film base coated in a photo-sensitive material.

When light hits the film, it creates a slight chemical reaction that results in an image.

Film must be developed by a chemical process to fix the image permanently - this is developing the film.

Film camera Basics


Film cameras allow light to come through the lens and hit the film in varying intensities. The shutter speed and f-stop control this.

The light meter in the film camera can tell you if the resulting image will be too bright or dark.

Typically it is best to use a hand-held light meter to make sure the exposure is correct.

There are two formats for film photography that I use.

The first being 35mm which is what many film cameras are. Most people who start in film photography start with this film size.

The second being 120mm which is a larger film format and results in images with finer detail.



My favorite film stocks





35 mm




120 Film

where can you buy and develop film?

I recommend going to your local photography store first. You can buy packs of film or individual rolls. If you want to buy film and get them developed, I recommend these film labs:

- Indie Film Lab

- Photo Vision Prints

Also - one roll of film can cost around $15 depending on the film stock, and developing and scanning is around $20. So price your packages accordingly, otherwise you may eat into your profit.

Film faq


Which film cameras do I use on wedding day?

For my 35mm, I use two cameras, the Contax g2 - and the pentax espio 410v.

For my medium format, I use the Contax 645.

Which film cameras should a newbie start with?

If you are starting out in film, I recommend the Canon AE-1. It is widely available on ebay and at local camera stores. It is reliable and will allow you to dip your toe into film before moving up to different cameras.



What parts of the day do i shoot film?

I try to shoot film as much as possible, but honestly fitting it in when the timeline isn't scrunched is what the reality is - unless my couple has opted for a film add on package, in which case, my associate helps me with coverage so I can focus on film. I love photographing details in film as well as some portraits. I get a few shots of the ceremony on film and sunset bridals. I love shooting flash on film during the reception.


common mistakes when shooting film

Some of the most common issues I have had with shooting film are all centered around not metering the light correctly and underexposing the film.

Film is different than digital - underexposing film will not result in a good image and you can't fix it. Instead it is better to err on the side of overexposing. You can overexpose up to 6 stops or more and the image still looks great! That is completely different from a digital image, which overexposing will result in an image that you can't fix.

metering incorrectly

It is really easy to forget to change your shutter speed or f-stop between changing locations and lighting situations.

The one habit that I use is to meter the light every time my feet move. As soon as I walk and stop somewhere new, I meter the light and change the settings on my camera. Typically this is just a change in shutter speed. But this is critical because it is easy to forget to change your settings and then you shoot and accidentally underexpose your image.

Forgetting to change settings

Still need more support to feel confident in film?


1. If you are wanting to be able to shoot a larger portion of your sessions on film.

2. You want to find a way to quickly get film developed and scanned to sent to your clients.

3. You're not sure which cameras or formats you want to use and need someone to show you.

4. If you are not sure where to start with film and need step by step instructions.

5. You want to know which film stocks to choose and why.

6. You want to know how to shoot film in difficult lighting situations.

learn more about my ultimate film course