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?

Q: Where can I get medium format film developed?
A: There are a number of professional labs across the country that process medium format film and then scan it so they can provide you with high res .jpgs. The trick is that they aren't all great. There is a huge variation across labs in everything from quality, to price, to speed. So it's not an easy task to vet them. I looked to my peers for recommendations and then sent film to two different labs over the course of about 6 months to compare and contrast them before deciding on one that best met my needs. The two I have used are Richard Photo Lab in California and Photovision in Oregon. While they are both well known and loved in the film community, I ended up landing on Photovision. I found quality to be about the same between the two, but Photovision won out in the price and speed categories.

Q: I was wondering about the process with the film lab... Did you have to work with them to get the images looking the way you wanted? I've heard that they don't look quite so amazing straight from the lab without some tweaking.
A: From what I understand, there is quite an art to scanning film. Nowadays they can tweak color and exposure while scanning to the point where it can save you hours of editing time. But it is also very subjective. I went back and forth with my lab (and still do at times) to get the color that I was wanting. Occasionally I have called them to get feedback on why images look a certain way. The way your images look is a combination of what you do in camera and what they do while scanning, so oftentimes it is the photographer's issue, not the lab's. But you might not know that unless you ask. So it's best to view your lab as an extension of your office and communicate with them as such. The best labs are very responsive and work hard to dial in your preferences and style. If you stick with it, over time, you will get scans that are close to what you are wanting straight from the lab.

Q: Are you still editing your scans? If so, can you elaborate on the process?
A: Yes, I am. Even though I've got my lab pretty well dialed in to my preferences, my images still come back slightly warmer and not as bright as I want them. I also have a chronic issue with thinking I'm shooting an image perfectly straight and it comes back to me tilted, so I do a good bit of cropping for straightening purposes. But overall, the tweaks I make in Lightroom are very minor. Here are a few images I picked at random from some recent shoots so you can see a comparison. The images on the left are what I got from the lab, and the version on the right is after my minor edit.
It's been awhile since I edited these, but from the looks of it, each image was cropped slightly for composition and then I bumped up the whites and shadows slightly. It's amazing how gorgeous film scans are straight from the lab. They take so much less time for me to cull because I'm not overshooting. And then the editing I do is so much more fun because I'm spending time making a beautiful image that I love even more perfect. Because I'm proud of it. Imagine -- FUN editing!!

Q: How has your turn-around time been impacted by shooting film?
A: My turn-around time has been lengthened by about 2 weeks as a result of switching to film. I used to turn around an entire wedding gallery in one week, so now I'm on a 3-4 week schedule. Thankfully my clients are very patient, and as long as I manage their expectations, they don't seem to mind the additional wait.

I hope you found this post helpful! Feel free to post additional questions below!
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