I LOVE bridal portrait sessions! I’m sure some of you are wondering what a bridal portrait session even is – so let me take a moment to explain! A bridal session is when we do additional pictures of just the bride before the wedding day. I know that sounds a little crazy – but let me tell you why I love and think its a great idea for every bride!

  1. It allows you more opportunities to wear your wedding dress! You have been searching for the perfect dress for a LONG time – and its so sad that you only get to wear it once! This not only allows you to wear it twice but to get more images in it! Which leads me to number two!
  2. You get MORE images of you as a bride in your dress! On a wedding day I always shoot bridal portraits – but we don’t have unlimited time due to the nature of a wedding day – but with a bridal session – we have a whole hour and a half! We can even go to multiple locations or plan the session around sunrise or sunset. It also allows you extra time to feel comfortable with how your dress moves, and to “test out” any special parts of the dress. This is also the perfect time for you to have your makeup and hair trial!
  3. It allows you to see how you feel and if you want to make any changes! If you decide you don’t like that hairpiece or the belt – it gives you time to feel out those things – and to make any alterations before your wedding day! Also, if you want to shoot at a venue that was maybe booked on your wedding day – or wasn’t a convenient location for your wedding (like a destination bridal session!) – then we have a ton of freedom to explore those options! :)

I was thrilled to be able to do a bridal session for Meagan! And let me tell you – she is stunning! Her gown is so gorgeous and she is a natural in front of the camera! Here are just a few of my favorites from her session! :)

View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridalsView More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/meagan-bridals


Dress: BHLDN

Venue: Sierra Vista

Florals: Jessica Mae Cortes

  • Carrie

    Gorgeous as always girl!!!! Great job!ReplyCancel

When I first picked up a film camera – I had no idea how to even use it! I just thought I would start shooting – and everything would come out like Style Me Pretty! That is definitely NOT what happened!!! I’ll be honest – I don’t even know where those first few images even are (I would totally show them to you though if I did – even though they are hideous!) – but I can still tell you what mistakes I made and what I learned from that first experience! Below are my 3 biggest mistakes I made when I started shooting film. I hope that maybe I can help encourage someone else who is beginning their film journey!

  1. Exposure

I had no concept of how to properly expose my film! I didn’t understand that I needed to rate my film (set it to the correct ISO on the camera) – I know that maybe sounds so basic – but I just thought if I put the ISO of film in that I wanted – then that was all I need to do! The BIGGEST mistake you can make when it comes to exposure – is to UNDEREXPOSE your film – never do that! Film is GREAT with light – and I usually overexpose my a couple of stops (and it handles that beautifully!) – but if you underexpose – you will end up with muddy shadows, the colors will be weird – and everything will look ugly and awful. When I shot my first roll of film – everything was ridiculously underexposed – and you could hardly even see what was going on in the image!

2. Focus

Again this may sound so basic – but I didn’t understand how to properly focus with my camera! I was used to shooting digital and always using auto focus and didn’t realize that with my camera – I had to shoot manual focus (of course some film cameras have auto focus as well – but mine at the time didn’t!)! So not only where all my pictures underexposed – they were all out of focus!

     3. Not trusting myself

Once I finally understood exposure and focus (and a few other things!) – I decided to start shooting film as a part of my engagement sessions and wedding days! I would shot some film – but then always repeat with digital – because I was afraid that it wouldn’t turn out right or that I was making mistakes! When I would get my film scans back – I would always LOVE my film SO MUCH MORE than my digital – and yet I was afraid that I wouldn’t do a good job or that I would make a mistake. Its so hard when you are shooting film – because you can’t see exactly what you are getting when you shoot (like you can with digital!) – and have to wait to see the finished product for a few weeks! I had to realize that shooting film is kind of like a recipe – you make sure you add the right ingredients and then you will end up with a delicious cake! After you have been cooking or baking for a while – you know what to add to get the right type of cake! You know what things will create a tasty cake – and what will make a cake disgusting. The same principle applies to shooting film – even though you can’t “taste” it right away – you know that what you put into it will make the end result amazing! I would shoot certain parts of the wedding day with digital (even though I wanted it to be with film!) – because I was too afraid to trust that could do it. I finally decided to start shooting those moments with film – and let me tell you how happy and thrilled I was with the results! And I could have been getting those sooner – if I just trusted myself!!!


If any of these apply to you – I understand and I have been there! Feel free to send me and email or comment below and let me know what your film journey has been like! :)

Lynchburg Editorial Shoot-Virginia Editorial Shoot-0133




  • Annie

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Its so nice to know that even people like you make mistakes! I definitely can relate to number 3! That is where I am right now! Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • Hello Jessica, your work is truly stunning, I can’t stop looking at it.

    I decided a few weeks ago to introduce film stills into my repertoire. My Canon EOS 1V was delivered a few days ago and I have loaded into it Fuji Film 400 and can’t wait to have a go. Your words above are so reassuring and make so much sense to me. Would you recommend I attain a light metre and if so, what one would you recommend. I am considering exposing with my digital camera and a light meter app on my iPhone to attempt to use these as a guide!?

    Thank you … GinaReplyCancel

In the past couple of years, I have written a few blog posts here and there about film – but I want to dive in a little bit more and share more for those of you who are curious or want to learn more about film! :) I hope that this series of blog posts can be helpful to those of you exploring and learning more about film!

The first question I think I should answer is why shoot film? What are the advantages? Disadvantages? What makes film so special?

There are SO MANY reasons to love film – but here are just a few below:

1. Color

The colors in film are unbeatable! No matter how much time you spend in front of the computer trying to get your digital images to look like your film ones, they will never be exactly the same. Film has so much more of a dynamic range then digital does! I never seen colors look as glorious as they do then when I am shooting film! :)

View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/lynchburg-editorial

2. Exposure and Highlights

Oftentimes with digital is very easy to blow out the highlights. If you try to expose for your client’s face, you may lose the details in other parts of the image. However, with film it is so much easier to capture the perfect exposure in every part of the image! No more blown out highlights or underexposed shadows! View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/lee-and-brook

3. Feel

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! 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!

View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/parker-katie

4. Quality

I have heard from several people that they don’t think that the quality of film is as good as digital. Quite the contrary! While the resolution of your jpegs will depend on what size you scan in your negative to the computer – the possibility is there for you to have a 200mp image if you want! If you look at the size of a sensor on a digital camera vs. the size of a negative of medium format film – the difference is huge! Also, I think in terms of preservation, films wins again. How many times have you seen a story in the news about rolls of film that were discovered and date back a 100 years? And they were still good! Film has been around for over 150 years – and we STILL use it. That says something!


5. Time

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. (I didn’t edit the picture below at all!!!)

Also, when I shoot film – it changes the flow of my sessions. 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. It also allows me to interact with my clients more because I am spending more time getting the perfect image (and helping coach them into the perfect pose or location) vs. just clicking away and not interacting with them as much!

View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/andrew-kara


And let’s just take a second to talk about how AMAZING black and white film is!!!!!! ah! Look at this! That grainy, moodiness! So so romantic! Again – straight scan from the lab – no editing! :) 


View More: http://jessicamaephoto.pass.us/marcus-sui-tin


What are some specific topics that you would like to read or learn about next? Comment below and let me know! :)

  • Julie Smith

    I’d like to hear more about how you choose different types of film! Is it based on location? Lighting? Thanks so much for this blog post!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Kendrie

    I guess my question would be what’s your workflow like? Where do you send your film? How do you get your images scanned? All of that kind stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Katie

    What kind of film do you use? Also what camera?ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Anderson

    These are amazing photographs! Thank you for teaching me about film vs digital.ReplyCancel

  • Carla Miles

    Awesome post! Can’t wait to read more for this series! What stock were you using for that black and white? LOVE the contrast and grain!!ReplyCancel

  • I LOVE THIS! I put off shooting film for SO LONG because I didn’t want to be one of those people who just did it because it was the thing. But I am excited about photography again and you’re right, there’s something about film that can’t be replicated. I shoot completely differently when I have a film camera and it’s super cool. I love your film work Jessica!ReplyCancel

  • Bethany

    What would you say to someone who is contemplating starting photo business for weddings/family as a second part time income. (We are in ministry) I would like to know about time commitment for weddings, how to know what to price, what do you think made you so successful?

    Bethany BackReplyCancel