I’m a film photographer. A rarity in a world of instant digital gratification, selfies with a stick, and blog posts about an entire wedding within two hours of it ending. I used to be part of the digital world too, though I started learning photography many years before digital was even a thought. I used to make slideshows from the wedding day at the actual wedding while I stressfully shoved food down so that I could show my clients a little slideshow on the dance floor. I used to stay up for hours after coming home from the wedding obsessively looking at the uploads and neglecting the sleep I so desperately needed after working hard for many hours. I used to feel stressed if I didn’t get the entire gallery AND the blog post AND the album design to the client in less than two weeks. Because in the new digital world, if you aren’t faster than fast, you’re not worth as much, and well…. you just might get left behind because somebody else is faster.
During all those years of digital stress, I always had a nagging feeling that something was off in my work, that my photos lacked a quality and feeling that I couldn’t find. No lens could fix it, no number of photos made it better, no amount of editing could change it. So, I decided to go back to my roots and pick up a film camera again. It was everything I had been missing and more. For me, a digital camera simply doesn’t convey the vision I have for my work; it looks like a picture of something, flat and un-lifelike, while film gives me a photograph that breathes and lives and shows the actual life of the scene. I feel strongly that I want to deliver photographs to people that mean something and that will bring them back to the emotional place they were when the photos were made.
I always say there’s a difference between a picture taker and a photograph maker. It takes a lifetime to be truly good at making photographs.
My dog could be a picture taker (quite literally actually, we’ve strapped a go-pro to him before!) and I expect I’ll be taking a few more decades to really perfect my skills, but I always strive to bring meaning and beauty to every client
in the photographs I make for them.
When I say I use film, people think I mean that I shoot motion pictures. This always puzzles me to no end! Drugstores still sell and develop film; we are not that far removed from film being the only thing available, and yet people always react as if they’ve never heard of such a thing. The questions go on and on – How do you develop it? Isn’t is expensive? Why? – and there’s always the shock when people ask to see a photo I’ve just taken and I show them my black camera back (I admit I have a little fun with that one!).
I’m not into discussions on “film versus digital” or why one is better than the other because it’s a one hundred percent individual choice; but I do want clients to know there are options out there.
Instead of throwing out 25 emails to random photographers, find those websites and Instagram accounts that speak to you and narrow it down to 1-3 photographers you truly LOVE, then find the one that meets these criteria:
- Ask yourself if the photos make you feel something. Do those feelings match what you want to feel about your own wedding?
- Always view at least two full wedding galleries, not a blog post or website galleries, the actual gallery that the photographer gave their client. Unfortunately, I am never asked for these, but I always send them to potential clients because it’s vitally important that you see how a photographer shoots a wedding from beginning to end. Anybody, and I do mean anybody, can take pictures at a wedding, but very few can make a solid and beautiful set of images from start to finish.
- You don’t need to be BFF with your photographer, but you should like them and they should convey a calm sense of professionalism. Look at reviews from past clients and make sure to have a meeting with them either in person or via Skype. If they respond to your initial inquiry with a request for a phone call, set it up! I do this so I can get to know my potential clients better and give them a sense for who I am too, because those things are really important. If you refuse to talk to the photographers you’re looking at, you have no idea what you might be missing out on by letting them get to know you and vice versa.
- Choosing a wedding photographer should never, ever, ever, ever be based on price. Photos of your wedding are irreplaceable, priceless, and should not be taken lightly. I cannot even count the number of people I’ve talked to who are devastated because they chose a photographer based on a low price and now can’t do anything to change it. In hindsight, every one of those people would have spent much more to get the photos they wanted for a lifetime. Budgets are tough, I know this better than anyone (feel free to ask me about my own wedding budget story, I bet I have you beat on how low it was!).
Thanks for reading! May your search for a photographer be a joyful and relaxed process.
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