Film Photography Is the Breakout Wedding Trend You Need to Consider
Following This Single Trend Will Yield the Most Uniquely “You” Wedding Photos
Film photography is a lot like French girl style. It’s perfectly imperfect, maybe even a little gritty. It endures because it’s timeless. If digital photography is the girl with the tightly wound, not-a-hair-out-of-place updo, film photography is the girl with the chic, messy bun.
Nothing captures the romance and intimacy of a wedding quite like film photography. And Poppy loves romance. That’s why we predicted that the film photography we saw at some 2022 weddings would become a full-blown trend by 2023. We’ll explain the why and how behind the trend, as well as how you can incorporate it into your own wedding.
What Is Film Photography?
It’s hard to imagine a time when people took actual cameras to special events; now we just travel with our phones in our clutches. But film photography requires a whole host of materials: a film camera, film (multiple rolls, usually), and often a tripod and lighting equipment. The actual film camera has settings and interchangeable lenses that determine factors like brightness, focus, clarity, and depth. Lenses can also control for close-up shots.
A photographer shooting on film gets one shot to capture a moment. And there’s a lot to consider, if you’re the photographer. How will you capture that moment? In low, moody, indoor light, or in a bright, outdoor setting? Will you highlight a single subject in focused contrast to a softened background, or will all subjects in equal focus? If you’re capturing someone in motion – like a couple on a dance floor – will you show their movement as a crisp split second in time, or as a dreamy blur that evokes the emotion of the moment?
You could get lucky shooting an amazing image with a digital or phone camera, but no one ever gets lucky shooting film. Film photography is an art that requires an expert level of skill and experience.
How Is Digital Photography Different from Film Photography?
A digital camera has settings that allow the photographer to adapt more seamlessly to changing light conditions and motion. The camera doesn’t require film, so depending on the storage capacity of the memory card being used, a photographer could take anywhere from hundreds to thousands of photos.
Because a digital camera produces an instantaneous image that you can see in real time, if you don’t like the tilt of your chin in a photo, you could pose again and again until the shot is absolutely perfect. Digital photos are clear and focused, and details can be edited even further on the backend. There’s a cost per image associated with developing film, as well as the cost of time. The more photos a photographer snaps, the more frequently film has to be changed. (A standard roll of 35mm film holds just 36 photos.)
Film’s Big Comeback
There are obvious advantages to photographing a wedding with a digital camera, so why are modern couples embracing film photography? It’s risky, right? What if the photographer misses the moment, or it comes out in some totally unexpected way?
That’s the appeal. It’s the messy bun: perfectly imperfect.
Couples love the limited edition-ness of film photography because the resulting photos capture the true vibe of the wedding rather than the regimented shot list that’s become standard operating procedure. Family photos and wedding party pictures are special keepsakes, and you can capture those digitally. (More on mixing your photography approach in a minute.)
To shoot with film is to have a collection of photos that’s been curated from the very start – those 36 shots per roll compared to hundreds or thousands of digital images on a memory card – and makes for a highly individualized wedding album. The photographer is watching the wedding day unfold and bringing an artistic, intentional eye to the scene, snapping what stands out as a true highlight.
There’s also the benefit of feeling less self-conscious as the subject of photography. With a roll of film limiting you, you won’t pose and re-pose to achieve perfection. You’ll be your true self and truly in the moment because you get fewer shots.
What’s more, it’s fun to have a little mystery surrounding the photos. You won’t know what got captured until all the photos are developed.
Combining Digital and Film Photography
If the mystery gives you sweaty palms instead of anticipation, rest assured that many wedding photographers offer both types of photography. Digital photos are ideal for the staged and high-stakes shots, and film photos bring the romance and uniqueness you crave in reception pictures and portraits.
Think about your bridal portrait. Taken with a digital camera, you could pose in any setting and have the final product edited to emphasize the color of your lipstick, the intricate design of your veil, and even the velvety texture of the flowers in your bouquet.
By contrast, a film photo will show the mood of the moment: a shadow in the folds of your wedding gown, the softness of your veil resting on your hair, the Old World way your face appears slightly grainy like you’re the subject of an oil painting.
DIY Film Photography
If your photographer doesn’t offer a package that includes film, or if it’s cost-prohibitive to pay for both, consider asking your guests to be film photographers.
Disposable cameras are back! What was de rigueur at weddings in the 2000s (remember when Monica and Chandler got married?) is now totally cool – and a great way to keep hands too busy for phones. You’ll get a variety of perspectives when you pass out cameras and give your guests the job of documenting the event. Sure, you’ll get a few thumbs obscuring the cake cutting, but you’ll also get the partygoer’s take on energy, vibe, and highlights.
Combine the immediacy of digital photography with the authenticity of film photography by providing a Polaroid camera. Guests can adhere their photos in a guest book (more fun than signing a name), take them home as wedding favors, or leave them to be collected for a photo project you’ll dream up once the busyness of wedding season is past you.
Poppy’s Take on the Trend
Poppy loves film photography and has a hunch that it’s going mainstream soon. The pandemic pushed us to rethink our pace of life, as well as our relationships and celebrations. Film photography is a reflection of how we prioritize deeply authentic, intimate moments. We’re slowing down to enjoy the party, and we think film photography captures those less refined, less defined, purely joyful moments.