Hey guys! As many of you know, I made the transition to shooting medium format film last summer and I am hooked! I've gotten a lot of questions about this change from photographers, so I'm attempting to answer them one-by-one on my blog. I'm tackling four more questions today, but make sure you click below to read past posts if you missed them! And if you have a question I haven't answered yet, leave it in the comments below and I'll make sure to cover it in a future post!

Is Shooting Film Scary?
Do Clients Care About Film or is it Just a Trend?
What are the Costs Involved with Shooting Film?
How do you Process and Edit Film Photos?
How do you Deal with Changing Light Situations?

Q: Did you initially learn shooting film? If you started with digital, when did you decide you were confident enough to transition? Film is my dream, I'm just terrified of failing.
A: I shot film back in high school and college -- but only black and white 35mm film that I developed in the darkroom myself. I loved the process, but when I started my business in 2003, digital seemed like the way to go. It made more sense, practically speaking, and it looked like that was where the future of photography was headed.

Fast forward to last summer (2014) and I was falling in love with the look of medium format film. I couldn't replicate that look in my digital images, and I decided to look into what it would mean to start shooting at least some film. I signed up for a film photography workshop, thinking I would rent a camera for that and then decide if I wanted to continue forward based on what I learned at the workshop. But the more I researched online (mostly through the Contax 645 Facebook group and on Instagram), I became more and more convinced that this was the direction for me.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Clifton Strengthsfinder Assessment, but one of my top strengths is "Activator." People with this strength are said to "make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient." We are the people who come up with the restaurant options and get the group moving. We are doers. And that's me TO A "T"! I couldn't wait for the workshop, so a month or two beforehand, I purchased my dream camera, shot a test roll of film, and then -- solely based on the results of that one trial and the "book learning" I'd done -- I shot this styled shoot. Looking back on it, I was CRAZY. If that had turned out badly, I would have been up a creek with the vendors I worked with. But thankfully, it turned out beautifully and although no shoot is ever PERFECT (there are always things I learn and wish I would have done differently, which was the case even when I shot only digital), I have only grown in my love and enthusiasm for this medium.

I was able to shoot a couple of styled shoots and a portrait shoot before my first wedding of the Fall season, so by then I was feeling fairly confident with my camera and what I needed to do to get what I needed for a wedding. But it was still scary to shoot that very first wedding on film. Thankfully, my clients were into photography themselves and appreciated the merits of film, so they gave me the confidence I needed to make the leap and go for it with their wedding. A couple things to note: I had my 2nd shooter shooting all digital and shooting the wedding as if they were the lead shooter (other than details and bride & groom portraits, which I felt very confident in) and I shot digital when the sun went down.

Q: When did you transition to 100% film on a wedding day?
A: The answer to this question is that I still haven't. I've never been 100% film, and I don't think I will likely ever be. The two things I mentioned above relating to my first wedding where I shot film continue to be true to this day. I still have a 2nd shooter who shoots all digital, and I still shoot digital after the sun goes down. I am 99% film whenever there is plenty of natural light to work with. The only exception to this typically is family portraits (more on this topic here). With large groups I will pull out my digital camera. But I never shoot the same thing with both a digital and a film camera -- it's either one or the other.

Q: Any affordable ways you can recommend to practice?
A: Hmmm...as you can see from my story above, I essentially skipped the practice stage. I purchased a Contax 645 before I ever shot a roll of film on one. But you can rent one from this source online. Better yet -- borrow one from a friend if you can! You will have to pay for the film and processing, but it would still be a much more affordable way to practice than jumping all in like I did. Shooting with a 35mm camera would also be a more affordable way to practice, although if you know you want to end up shooting with a particularly type of film or camera, I'd recommend practicing with those tools as soon as possible. The best way to overcome fear and learn quickly is to JUST DO IT. Plan a styled shoot where other people are counting on you, and that will force you to do the work needed to get to a place of confidence quickly.

Q: Is the fact that you shoot film something you use in marketing yourself?
A: This is a great question and one that many film photographers struggle with. My answer would be that right now I am not overtly marketing myself as a film photographer. But that doesn't mean I am wanting to hide that fact either. I just know that my market is a little behind the curve nationally, and most brides in this area aren't necessarily on the search for a film photographer. They just know what they like when they see it. So I'm letting my work do the talking for me. But whenever I get the chance to interact with someone one-on-one -- whether it be a prospective client, a planner, a vendor or another photographer -- and share with them the merits of film and why I am going this route, you better believe I do. I WANT brides to seek me out for film, and I know there is a niche market of brides who ARE looking for a film photographer. I just don't think the majority of the prospective clients who cross paths with my website are in that camp. So right now, I'm doing what I love and hoping people want to pay me for it :). Ahhh...the life of every artist.

I hope you've found this post helpful! Let me know in the comments below if what I've shared has left you with any thoughts or questions!
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