Film or digital?
The question is being asked by everyone. Clients, publication editors, but especially by the photographers who are creating the images. It’s a debate that has continued to permeate industry dialect since digital came onto the photography spectrum. Since the first megapixel.
Each side has a valid argument. There are pros and cons to both mediums. Digital is crazy fast, convenient, and allows almost immediate turn around times so our clients stay pleased in a digital age where everything is instantaneous and instant gratification is almost vital to positive client experience. And then there’s film. The oh so romantic, vivid, emotion evoking qualities of film can’t be replicated.
Recently, I’ve been asked which one I’m going to choose. Usually, once a photographer enters the film world, one of two things happens. #1) They become addicted to the work film enables them to produce, and they leave their digital cameras behind, selling them to invest in Leica and Hasselbad, Contax and Mamiya. Or outcome #2) They come to terms with film’s downfalls: the investment it requires, the uncertainty if the film will turn out (which is quite the stress-inducing risk while covering once-in-a-lifetime event such as a wedding day), and the time it takes to have film processed. Some people weigh these cons and decide digital is the safest option for their business.
So, my answer?
I choose both.
There are very few true hybrids in the industry right now, and I kind of love that. I’ve spent a lot of time this year working film into my digital workflow, trying to figure out how this is all going to work for my business and clients. I love film, I adore the emotion my film images evoke, and I love how my work has transformed into the fine art style I’ve always dreamed it would be because of film. Film makes me slow down, be intentional, and work harder to pre-visualize and create the images I want to produce. This doesn’t mean I don’t also love digital photography as well. My digital camera allows me to shoot in very low light situations. On wedding days, sometimes the lighting in the church isn’t ideal. Does that mean I’m not going to photograph the ceremony in real-time in the sanctuary because the images won’t be luminous and dreamy? Absolutely not! Sometimes, our clients memories have to be put ahead of our art in terms of priority. This is where digital comes in for me, it’s my “insurance plan” and gives me peace of mind. I would be devastated if something were to happen to a roll of film for a wedding day client, so I always shoot both digital and film to ensure my client’s memories are adequately preserved. It also allows me to be able to share images with my wedding clients more quickly, which my clients have come to know and love me for.
My hybrid model may not be perfect. I am definitely always trying to grow and improve. But for me, for now, it’s working.
If you have any questions about incorporating film into your digital workflow, I would love to hear from you!