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April 11, 2017

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I first learned to love film photographs in 10th grade when, admittedly, I lived life a little bit more melodramatically. Whenever I felt like I was going through a rough patch, the dark room in my photo class was my place. I loved that I could spend three hours checking and rechecking exposure and contrast without noticing that time went by.  I’d slip my earbuds in and get to work, then soon enough it would be time to leave. I wasn’t as concerned about efficiency then, it felt more like painting with light than anything else. Ever since then, I’ve loved film in a way that digital photographs can’t really compare. Sometimes certain images remind me of the 15 year old Klaire, when all I wanted to do was paint with light. I keep a photograph I took in high school above my desk to remind me of just that.

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Film serves a bigger purpose now – it helps me capture some of the most beautiful moments for my clients! Here are a couple of helpful ways to explain exactly what I use and why!

  1. When you think “film,” you may think of the disposable cameras your parents used twenty years ago. Disposable cameras are somewhat small, like a point and shoot digital camera. They use 35mm film, and look something like this.

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2. I happen to use a medium formate camera. It uses 120mm film, which is larger than the film you may normally think of, and creates better quality images. Instead of rolling the film through the camera itself, it has an insert you remove and roll the film through.

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3. I generally use two types of film – Portra 800 and Fuji 400. When I shoot with 120mm film, it has 16 slides per roll. They look like this before they are sent out to be processed by my favorite lab, Photovision! I don’t develop my film like I used to in high school since I don’t have a dark room, and color film happens to require much more dangerous chemicals.

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Now that we looked at what it is, here are some visuals to explain what it does and why I use it! I happen to love both digital and film cameras. Both types are beneficial for different reasons, and I always use both during a session. By using both formats, I describe myself as a hybrid photographer. I also use the term “fine art photographer” because I intentionally use film in addition to digital.

  1. Film picks up on color, highlights, and contrast more richly than digital. It may not function as well in low light compared to a digital camera, but I love it for portraits!

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2. The film images from each session guide how I edit the digital images. I always tweak my film images, but it is always very slight.

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3. Film teaches photographers like myself to slow down, and wait for the right moment to happen. Film photographs cost about $2 per click, so it mandates a bit more intentionality. Digital cameras are wonderful in the sense that memory cards allow us to basically process each image for free (besides equipment costs, of course). We can also look at images instantly and make sure everything is perfect, but film doesn’t offer the same convenience. When I apply the same waiting process the way I shoot digitally, every session goes more smoothly!

There is a lot more I can say about my love for film, but hopefully this intro was helpful when you hear someone describe them as a “film photographer,” “fine art photographer” or “hybrid photographer!”

Film Processed by: Photovision

Want to browse recent sessions entirely on film? 

click here: Tommy + Hannah | Fine Art Washington, DC Engagement Session

click here: Trever + Megan | Fine Art Georgetown Engagement Session

click here: Luke + Ashley | Fine Art Charlottesville Engagement Session


Virginia Fine Art Photographer | Why Film?


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