I love it when photographers start to explore film. Film is not a dead art, and has so many advantages over digital (digital of course has its uses too – but I am partial to film! Read this for some more thoughts on film)! My hope with this blog post is that if you are thinking of starting your own film journey, then this will encourage and inspire you!
(Disclaimer: I by NO means know everything there is to know about film! This post is just some basic thoughts.) These are just some of the things I wondered about when I first started shooting film!
Basic types of Film Cameras:
1. 35 mm
The smallest format. The camera you used as a little kid (or your parents used when you were a kid) was probably 35mm.
2. Medium format
This is what I primarily use. It is gorgeous. It has a bigger negative than 35mm, therefore resulting in a better quality image.
3. Large format
I haven’t explored large format yet, but hope to in the near future! I already have some plans about it!
What film cameras I shoot with:
1. 35 mm – I have a Canon 1-V. This is a professional 35mm film camera. I love it because I can use all of my L series lenses with it!
2. Medium format – Contax 645. This is my main film camera. I adore this camera. It uses Zeiss glass (the best there is!), so you are getting an unbelievable image!
1. Light Meter: If you want to be serious about shooting film, then you need a hand held light meter. I use a Sekonic 358.
2. Additional film inserts for my Contax – this means that I can preload rolls so that I don’t waste time while shooting.
There are TONS of different film stocks out there. Here are a few I use:
1. Kodak Portra 160 – I only use this color film in really bright situations!
2. Kodak Portra 400 – Great color film for so many uses! I use this film the most often.
3. Kodak Portra 800 – My favorite color film stock! It is so beautiful! Great for when the sun starts to set.
(The three listed above have a bit more pop and vibrance than the Fuji listed below)
4. Fuji 400h – A great color film. More pastel-like than the Porta.
5. Ilford delta 3200 – An awesome grainy black and white film!
I usually shoot with 120 film. This means that there are 16 exposures per roll. You can also get 22o film – this means that there are 32 exposures per roll (120 and 220 are medium format films. I use the same films above for my Canon film camera as well – but 35mm film rolls have 36 exposures).
Labs to send your film to (there are a ton of these as well, but here are some of my favorites!):
1. Richard Photo Lab – This is who I send my film too! They are great!
4. Film Box
The Film Process (at the lab): - Should I order prints or scans? How do I send film to a lab? How does the whole process work?
I am not going to dive into developing film here, but more what it looks like on the photographer’s side who sends film to a lab.
1. Mail out your film – I always overnight mine and get insurance on it. I put all my rolls of film in a plastic ziplock bag (so there won’t be any water damage), then in bubble wrap before it goes into an overnight mailer. I don’t want them to be crushed or damaged in anyway.
2. Most labs will require you to include a film order form. This will have you list the types of film you are sending in (6 rolls of 120, etc.) and what you want done to them. Prints (what size?), scans (what size and on what scanner?), Push or Pull (a whole post could be written on that – but very basically, it tells the lab how long the negatives need to be in the chemicals – I usually process normal). I always get scans (you can have them just process the negatives if you want – or get prints but not scans) and occasionally prints too.
3. After a lot of waiting (every lab’s wait time is different – but it always feels like a long time!), you will receive a link from the lab to download your scans. You can now share on social media, blog or give them to your clients.
4. About a week later your negatives (and prints if you ordered those too) come in from the lab. Store the negatives somewhere safe – you may never know if you will need them in the future!
Scanning at the lab:
1. There are two different types of scanners you can use: the Frontier and the Nortisu. I always use the Frontier. It mostly is preference, so figure out what you like. Here are two shots below. Both with Fuji 400h. The first one is on the Frontier and the second with the Nortisu (both with my contax). The Frontier takes longer – but I think it is worth the wait. If you are in a hurry, than you can use the Nortisu.
Focusing Your Camera:
When I shoot with my Contax, I always manually focus. I will do half and half with my Canon. With manual focus, you can choose how you want the focus to be – a little softer (like I like!) or on the sharper side. You can also choose what you want in focus (the bride’s hair vs. her flowers, etc.) For example, I love the softness of the images below. This couldn’t be achieved with auto focus though!
I hope this was helpful! If you have questions, let me know, and I will try to answer them all in a Q+A film post!
This post is a long time in the making (I got the idea for a post like this from the wonderful Laura Gordon). I love film. I love shooting film. But all the time I run into people who aren’t photographers (and even some who are!) that don’t understand why I shoot film or that film isn’t a dead and lost art. Some people don’t understand why I shoot film or don’t think it is a good choice. I think it is a great choice! Here are some reasons I shoot film, and some examples of film vs. digital below:
The colors in film are unbeatable! No matter how much time you spend in front of the computer trying to get your digital images like your film ones, they will never be exactly the same. Film has so much more of a range.
A lot of times with digital you lose the highlights, but in film, you can overexpose and never lose them! That is hugely important when you are shooting white wedding dresses all the time! I hate seeing a dress (or shoes, or an invitation – take your pick) and you can’t see the details – the highlights are blown out! Film handles light and highlights so well.
Film has a “soul” that digital doesn’t and never will have. There is just something tangible and romantic about film that you can’t get with digital. I love how it feels to shoot film! Also, film is softer and has a more romantic feel to it. That is totally my style! When I shot digital, I could never get my images as soft as I wanted them to be, but when I started shooting film, I found what I was looking for!
First, I don’t spend nearly as much time in front of the computer when I shoot film. You don’t have to edit film images! With digital, you have to spend time manipulating every single one – but not with film! I can do other things instead of hunched over the computer all day. Also, it changes my time when I am shooting. It forces me to slow down and get every shot perfect because I pay for each shot with film. Shooting digital is practically free, but film costs about $4 a shot! That is going to make me be very careful! Instead of getting a ton of pretty good images – now I am getting a more selective few, but incredible images.
Test it out for yourself. Below is one film and one digital image side-by-side. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see which is which.
Film images are on the LEFT and digital images are on the RIGHT.
Seriously. I love snow! I don’t really like cold weather all that much, but if snow is in the forecast – then I am all about some cold weather! However, in light of a snowy forecast, people in the South begin to panic. As soon as they hear the word “Snow” they go crazy! I made sure to do my Walmart run a couple of days ago before the crazy snow – but last night we had friends who went and had to go 30 minutes down the road to another town because there was nothing left at the other Walmarts! Crazy, right? This video perfectly sums up what people in the South do. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat! I laughed so hard, Chris ran into the room because he thought I was crying (amazing husband, right? :) )
This year, I will again be hiring an intern! I loved being able to have intern last summer (Andrea was awesome!) and I am SO excited to work with another amazing person this year! Here are some reasons I am hiring an intern this year:
1. I love the consistency of working with the same person for all of my weddings. Having a second shooter at each wedding is important to me, and I don’t like having to retrain and relearn with a different person each wedding.
2. I am so excited about the opportunity to share with someone else everything I have learned!
3. I love being able to help others learn, grow and expand their portfolio – and this is perfect for that!
So if that catches your eye, here is what I am looking for:
1. First and foremost, I am looking for potential, not perfection. If you are nervous or unsure, that is ok! Apply anyway! This is a learning and growing experience, you don’t need to know everything yet!
2. Interested in learning more about photography, business and film.
3. Willing to sometimes work weekends and late nights.
4. Experience with photography. (You don’t have to have 25 weddings under your belt, but I also want more than just instagram photos).
5. Owns a DSLR and knows how to shoot in manual mode.
6. Available May – September (perhaps a bit longer depending on availability). Not every weekend, but you will have the opportunity to work with me at 10-15 weddings.
7. Willingness to drink lots of coffee and listen to music on road trips to shoot weddings.
8. Experience with Lightroom and Photoshop preferred, but not required.
9. Good with verbal and written communication.
10. Fun and positive attitude! Willing to go above and beyond and help me and my clients in anyway!
That sounds awesome! Can you tell me more about what I am going to learn and do?
This internship is definitely designed for someone who wants to learn about wedding photography! This will give you a great understanding and allow you to see a lot about owning a wedding photography business. I will be an open book to you. You are able to ask me any questions that you want. I will share with you everything that I have learned and give you a ton of hands on opportunities. You will be involved in shooting weddings and assisting me on engagement sessions. We will also have “teaching times” during the week where I can share with you all of the behind the scenes of a small business, answer any questions that you have and critique your wedding images.
This sounds awesome, but I don’t live in Lynchburg. Can I still apply?
Yes! If you live more than a few hours away, that might not work out for us, but if you live in Virginia, we could make it work. We could talk about meeting up for weddings instead of carpooling together. I am definitely open to talking about possibilities!
I am a Liberty student and would like to get college credit, can you make this happen?
I am currently in talks to make this happen! I will let you know for sure on this soon!
Is this a paid position?
Yes! I will pay you physical money per wedding, but you are also receiving wisdom, advice and experience!
TO APPLY: Email me (email@example.com) with your name and a link to your portfolio. I will send you a short application to fill out and then if I think we could be a good fit, I will set up an interview time!
I had the awesome privilege and honor of teaching a workshop this Fall! It was incredible to be able to share, challenge and be encouraged by other fellow photographers. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped me out! Huge shout out to the ever amazing Andrea Pesce Photography for everything she did to make sure the day was a success and for all of the behind the scenes pictures! Also, a huge thanks to Brandon + Alex for modeling for us, Kathryn Miller for the fabulous hair and makeup and Hannah Swanson for the gorgeous florals! The styled shoot was also featured on Glamour + Grace, check out the feature here!
Photographer: Jessica Mae Photography | Venue: Oakwood Country Club | Hair and Makeup: Kathryn Miller | Dresses: Celebration Bridal and Church Street Bridal | Florals: Hannah Swanson | Styling: Andrea Pesce + Jessica Mae | Cake: Jessica Mae | Models: Brandon + Alex Wirth | Film processing: Photovision | Kodak Porta 400 + 800
Launch Day is here! Ah! After months of planning and hard work, I am ecstatic to be able to release my new brand today! This has been in the works since June, and I had such a hard time not giving previews and sneak peeks along the way!
1. Thank you to my designer Lauren from This Sweet Season!
2. Thank you to everyone who listened to me talk about all of my ideas and for your input and insight (especially Chris and Andrea :) )
3. I just can’t contain how excited I am and so in honor of today I want to give away three gift cards! 1. J. Crew ($25), 2. Anthropologie ($50) and the 3. Melting Pot ($50). Keep reading for info on how to enter the contest!!!
Sorry for all of the numerals today…. but here are the steps to enter!
1. Check out the NEW website!
2. Leave a comment below here on the blog!
3. Tweet or post on Facebook about the launching of my new brand! Be sure to use the hashtag #jessicamaelaunchday in order for your submission to count!
That’s it! :)