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 three 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?

Q: How do you deal with changing light situations?
A: Good question! We all know that weddings can be tricky due to multiple locations and changing lighting situations. With film you are committed to your film speed for the duration of a roll. So how do you cope with changes? Here's the thing, guys. And this will be my answer to a lot of these fear-based questions surrounding film: It's just a different tool. While you can overcome a challenge one way with a digital camera, you can overcome it another way with a film camera and the key is to be a professional and know your tool. When I'm working a wedding where we are on the go and moving from location to location quickly, I have a few alternatives. I can shoot with 800 speed film, which I know will work in both indoor situations near window light, and outdoors. I can load one type of film into one of my Contax bodies and the other into the other body so that I have the ability to alternate. And I always have my digital camera on hand (as well as my 2nd shooter who is shooting digital) to grab a quick shot in low-light if need be. But I've found in reality that it's really not as stressful as we can sometimes build it up in our minds to be. If you have a good timeline planned out in advance, you are able to anticipate what type of film you will need to load next and be ready for each situation. I've also found that there is typically always time to move the subject into more flattering light. I did this when I was shooting digital, and I still do it now that I'm shooting film. Our clients are relying on us for this guidance.

This is a tool I've added to my wedding day gear that helps me to quickly switch from one camera to another -- the Holdfast Moneymaker Strap:
Super-handy! (above right photo by Albert Cheung)

Q: What happens if your roll runs at an important moment?
A: The medium format film I shoot has 16 frames per roll. So every 16 frames, I change out the film. I always have a non-shooting assistant at every wedding (she was with me at every wedding when I shot 100% digital as well) who helps me load film so I always have a roll ready to go. We've gotten the switch down to a science so it only takes a few seconds. When I know the first kiss is coming, I check to see where I am in a roll and finish it up real quick if need be so I can switch it out in time. And even though I LOVE film images, I am technically a hybrid shooter, so I do take some digital photos at each wedding. I always have my digital camera on my Holdfast strap at the ready.

Q: How do you know if clients blinked?
A: Ahh! So many fear-based questions! haha! But I get it. And it's good to want to be prepared for every situation. But my question to those of you who find yourself asking this particular one is, "How do you deal with this when shooting digital?" Do you take time to scroll through and zoom into each photo you take on the back of your camera to make sure you got a non-blinker from each set? If so, I guess my question to you would be, "Is this the best use of a professional photographer's time on a wedding day?" How many other moments are we missing when we are immersed in the back of our cameras? That's one of the beauties of shooting film -- no time is lost looking at photos that have already been taken. I am able to be completely present and undistracted.

I took blinking shots when I shot 100% digital, and I still take some now. The solution with digital is to rapid fire and take enough to feel confident you got one. The more people you add to a group photo, the more chances you have of a blinker, so the more photos you need to take of that grouping. For this reason, when I'm shooting group photos of more than 4-5 people, I break out the digital camera. At this point it's a cost issue. I need to take more duplicates of larger groups, and it just isn't cost-effective to shoot film in that scenario. So I typically will shoot large family portraits with my digital camera (or better yet, have my 2nd shooter who is shooting digital take them while I go photograph cocktail and reception details on film).

Another trick that really helps is the old-fashioned 1-2-3 countdown. If I'm shooting film, I'll typically count for each group portrait so people are aware and try not to blink. I usually only take 2-3 shots of each grouping on film, and if I count, I get a good one 99 times out of 100.

One final thought concerning the questions in this post: Don't be ruled by fear. Whether you are using a digital camera or a film camera to accomplish your objective, fear is the enemy of creativity. Is shooting weddings stressful? Yes. Are there unique challenges to each tool we choose to use? Yes. We have a responsibility as professionals to be as prepared and knowledgeable as we can be, and then go out there and do our best to tell the story of each unique wedding -- to have fun and be creative and leave it all out there. I want to make decisions out of passion for my craft and for my clients, not based on fear. I want to give them the best of me. And the tools I've chosen to use are a reflection of how I believe I can best do that.

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