Just Because It's Film Doesn't Make it Good

Um. Guys. I need to keep it real up in here. 

We need to talk about something. And I'm going to go ahead and put my disclaimer right here up at the top. Sometimes, I eff up photos from my sessions. It happens. And SOMEtimes I'll even let one of those images slip into a client's gallery because I just feel it belongs there. But I'm going to say something that I think needs to be said. (And maybe I need the reminder too sometimes.)

Just because it's film, it doesn't make your image good.

*Bracing for a strike to the face*

Film is dreamy and romantic and it makes us film shooters go all kinds of crazy when we get scans back. I think there's probably some kind of chemical thing happening in our brains, but I didn't quite have time for a scientific study of that. We see our scans, and sometimes because we are so excited that we nailed our exposures and our subjects look awesome, we don't really zoom into the image and see it's really quite soft. OR we are so excited we nailed the focus (hello 1/60th!!) that we look past the fact that our clients skin looks border-line oompa loompa. 

Why is it that when we miss focus on a film shot it automatically becomes "artsy" and you can "totally feel the emotion"? Why is it when we overexpose a shot so much that it makes skin tones yellow and orange do we only focus on how amazing the bokeh is from that Contax?

I COMPLETELY understand the heart eyed emoji feelings that come when we get scans back. It's such an amazing process to shoot film and get it back a week or two later and see everything we did. I am right there with you all heart-eyed myself. But why do we completely push aside the fundamentals of proper focus and skin tones? What is it about film that makes us think that everything shot on film is automatically gold? I would never keep a soft/missed focus shot from my DSLR and put it in a client's gallery so why is it ok with film? 

What about this shot? Do you think it was missed focus or intentional? There is a difference, but when we try to pass off a missed focus shot for an intentional blur, it is often very obvious what really happened. (Note, this was actually intentional: blurry stage of motherhood symbolism and all.)

There is a romantic phase when shooting film. But lets try really hard to not let it get the best of us. Let's not focus on the excitement over shooting film but rather, on our actual FOCUS! Exposure, LIGHT, composition all deserve our attention. Let's not focus so much on the gear we used and whether it's what the "film Gods" shoot with. Let's learn how to use those amazing cameras properly first!

I believe when we have portfolios loaded with images that have soft focus and wonky skin tones, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. And no amount of film shooting is going to change that unfortunately. Work on that focus. Practice a TON with those manual focus cameras before using them on paying clients. You are the expert. Don't negate that fact by showing images that don't support it. 

*shot with hp5 on a 35mm canon 1V

xo,
Meghan