December 12, 2017

Is film better than digital? Tidbits on being a hybrid photographer and why I choose to shoot film.

Often times when I tell people I shoot film they think that I am referring to video.  However, I am actually referring to the act of still image film photography; think rolls of film, developing in dark rooms, prints, etc.  The process has changed a little since the 90’s when people would drop their film off at the 1 hour processing centers.  Nowadays, there are labs that do developing and then use computerized scanners to scan the developed film and turn it into digital files.  I use a lab in Utah called The Find Lab and Photovision Prints in Oregon. I absolutely love these guys! They know my work, my style, and my preferences and they always make sure that my film scans (that’s what we call the digital files) come back perfect every time.

Can You Tell Which One Is Film?


Ashley Holstein Photography | hybrid photographer

Here’s the thing: I match my film scans to the images from the digital camera. The two images above were shot with both digital and film. Can you guess which is which?
Unless you’re a hybrid photographer, you won’t see a difference. You have to train your eye to detect the highlight/shadow colors that are unique to each film stock. That’s a whole lot of technicality terms to say that matching film is a skill. I use a variety of presets to achieve the results I like, which is usually about 95% similar. Digital will never have the high quality of tonal range that film has but I can get pretty close if I use a film scan as an anchor.

My first love was film, so I can rave about it forever. But I don’t exclusively shoot film because it would bring my cost of business through the roof. I am not well known enough to compete with the leading wedding photographers in the industry, nor can I charge $50k+ per wedding in my area. To give you an idea, if I shot a wedding with just film, the cost of goods would be about $3k. It’s a luxury. By shooting hybrid, I give my clients access to this luxury at about 10% of their wedding budget. Digital also gives me the advantage of photographing receptions without having to switch rolls often since they can be fast-paced and full of spontaneity.

In the end, my ultimate goal is to provide the best quality of images to my clients.  The medium that I use to achieve that is an extension of who I am. Those who identify with my values and brand appreciate me as an artist and admire the tools I use to create works of art for their homes.

If you have any questions on this please let me know in the comments and I will be happy to help! I love educating on film photography and would love for photographers to learn to shoot film. Together we can keep film alive.

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