Film vs. Digital Photography: What's Right For Your Wedding?
March 10, 2016
Planning your Big Day? The most important investment you should check off your list - hire an amazing photographer. Because after you've said your vows and cut the cake, the only tangible product you're left with (other than your new husband or wife of course) are the images captured. Which is why I've asked my very own wedding photographers, the O'Malley Photographers to give us a little more insight on the real difference between film photography and digital photography, as well as what questions to ask when it comes to determining which suits your celebration best! Bookmark and read it all.

Which medium do you use?

Film! We absolutely love the process, look and medium. At our weddings we shoot a mixture of medium format and 35mm film throughout the day. After the sun has set, we still shoot film but start mixing in our digital cameras as well.

Why Do You Shoot Film?

Because we believe in timeless, beautiful and fun images. Each artist needs to decide what they are trying say and then pick tools that help them say it. Trends come and go, but we are trying to make family heirlooms that last for generations and are planning to make film images for decades to come. Film has a natural elegance and intangible beauty that speaks to us and our clients often comment on the ‘romantic quality’, ‘beautiful colors’ and ‘natural skin tones’. In short, we think film is a higher-quality product and requires a commitment to the craft that is consistent with the images we
want to make and the life we want to live.

Your Common Film Questions Answered!

What is the final product?

Prospective clients often ask something like, “We love the film look, but what are we actually going to receive after the wedding is over? Are you going to ship me a box of negatives?”. Each film photographer does it differently, but after our film is developed we have it digitally scanned by our photo lab. This allows us to provide digital negatives to our clients (via disk or USB), upload them to a proofing gallery and edit images as needed. All of our clients receive a box of physical prints from the wedding, digitized photos and access to their physical negatives (if they wish).

What's the cost difference?

There’s no getting around it, film is expensive and costs are rising every year, but we believe film photography is worth the investment. Candidly, years back we tried to replicate a film look through digital technology and in our humble opinion, the colors, tonality and emotional depth of film cannot be reproduced with digital technology. Our clients tend to be people who appreciate the highest possible quality without compromise.

Why does film photography sometimes look grainy?

In low light situations photographers often raise their ISO to capture more light, which results in more grain on both film and digital cameras. Digital cameras tend to handle low light situations with more ease and while we love the look of grainy black and white film images, we know not everyone does. This why we mix in digital cameras in extremely low light situations or after the sun has set. It’s all about choosing the best tool for the moment.

What's the difference in turn-around time?

Each photographer and film lab are different but it takes about approximately two weeks for our lab to process and digitally scan our weddings. Our couples can expect their wedding photos 3-5 weeks after the event which is actually faster than or on par with our friends who shoot digitally.

What are time factors you have to keep in mind when shooting film?

A well-constructed timeline is a photographer’s best friend whether they are shooting film or digital. To get those dreamy, soft film images the few hours before sunset are magic. Film also helps us to photograph efficiently and after photographing hundreds of weddings, we’ve learned how to capture the beautiful photos our couples love without overshooting. Our own wedding was just a couple years ago and we remember how anxious we were to see friends, family and get to our party. It’s important that a photographer understands that wedding days are celebrations and not photo-shoots.

What if my venue is indoors with low light? Should I choose a film or digital photographer?

Don’t be afraid to ask photographers for sample galleries from past weddings in venues similar to yours. Whether film or digital, if you like what you see in a photographer’s low light images, I wouldn’t hesitate to book them.

What should you look for when meeting with different photographers who shoot in different mediums (in the photos themselves)?

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Whether film or digital, if you're looking through a photographer’s portfolio and there is not overall consistency in location selection, editing, and style you simply don’t know what you’re going to receive back from the photographer. As a recent bride, that's a scary thought!


Click to see which questions you should ask before hiring a photographer!

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Photo tips courtesy of O'Malley Photographers