Leaping to film: How do you know?

So, before you get super excited by your email notifier - I'm not a bride. ^_^ Well, I was but that was years ago! I'm actually a wedding photographer in the panhandle of Florida and I was hoping I could ask you a film question or two whenever you have a minute.  Did you switch from digital to film?  How did you do it and do you have any advice for someone who isn't sure if their heart lies in film or if it's just unhappy with the quality of my digital work. -C

SUBJECT:  DAMMIT you're not a Bride!

HAHA no, for real, that was funny.  BAH!  I'm just happy you weren't SPAM or someone with broken english trying to convince me they were my long lost uncle in South Africa and I need to to wire money.  I am MORE than happy to share + help out any way that I can.  I honestly feel like it's my calling, what I'm supposed to do, I mean, why else would God have given me this ridiculously loud voice and need to forever throw my two cents in?  ;)  Exactly--he wouldn't have!

First of all-- eff those fears.  All of them.  That exact same fear [that everyone else was doing it] is what kept me staring and dreaming about film but NEVER shooting it for over two years.  TWO YEARS!  I knew it was what I wanted to do, but had no idea where to even begin and wasn't confident in myself enough to do it--and worried that others would think it was was a trend and I was just hoping on board.  But I gave those up because more than the doubt I KNEW it was what I wanted to do, and like you, I spent so much money and unsalvageable time on every action under the sun and could never get my film to look like my digital.  I don't really know what gave me the courage to actually jump, but I DO know that as it hasn't been easy (or cheap!) it's been worth it.  I did my research (having no clue what I was even supposed to be looking for) and felt that out of a Contax 645 or Mamiya 645 AF (because I definitely wanted a medium format), the Contax's look and softness was my perfect fit.
I bit the bullet, in lieu of a shiny new Canon Mark ii bought the used and price inflated camera, and just started shooting.  I first shot everything under the sun (+ in DIFFERENT sun) to get the feel of working with film.  Then, I started to bring it along on paid shoots (and quickly realized I needed an assistant to juggle all these new gadgets).  I started shooting things I 'envisioned' in film, following up with the shot in digital to build my confidence.  Once I screwed up a few times (and learned some hard but solid lessons) as well as started to compare the film and digital shots I realized I loved the film scans WAY more which gave me an additional boost in confidence.   I kept shooting both digital and film on my own dime until I mastered the craft.   And that just kind of happened on accident.  I had a shoot where we traveled to a few locations and as the session ended my stomach sank as I noted I hadn't shoot ONE digital photo.  Not ONE!  I immediately panicked and prayed over my film (the power of prayer, people!) when I dropped it in the mail to the lab.  And guess what?   It turned out better than I could have dreamed. That experience made me realize that I was following my heart and I could actually do this (or Jesus saved my ass).  I just needed to be more patient and sincerly take my time behind the camera.  I will admit I worried that slowing my energetic self down a notch would cause my photos to be less lively than usual, which for a shoot or two it did, but once I started to get the hang of manually focusing in a pinch I was able to shoot movement candidly in film with good results.  So that came again, with practice.
Film sparked something new in me.  It added an extra light to my soul I felt was dimming.  Provided me with a medium to finally capture the images in the way my heart saw them.  However, there are totally times as you mentioned you wonder if you are just unhappy with your work as a whole and I think that's an issue all Creatives battle. I will be like "ooohhh this blade of grass is going to look amazing in film!" and I get the scans back and nope.  It's still a blade of grass.  Not much glittery magic in that. Sometimes I put emphasis on the actual medium thinking it creates the dreamy scene (can't deny that smooth zeiss lens works magic) and wind up bummed when my landscapes don't rival Ansel Adams.  My disappointed is then replaced with " I must SUCK" when really  I was just relying on the camera to do all the work.  If I want to get better I need to challenge myself.  Stay inspired.  And work at keeping my eyes and ideas fresh.  That's up to you to decide if it's via a missing piece of equipment, or a dimming spark within.
I really believe film has saved me.  I see life in colors of film stocks and am back to carrying my camera with me everywhere.  It's truly the element my image daydreaming self was missing.
If you aren't sure if your heart's in it, I'd say rent a Contax (contaxrental.com), Mamiya, borrow a camera from a friend or snag up an old canon ae1 on Ebay to try for a while.  See what t does to you.  Even if you decide film doesn't fit within your current workflow  you can still shoot it for fun and I gauran-damn-tee you it will change the way shoot digitally-- it certainly did more than that for me.  What do you have to lose?  How do we ever know what's in our hearts unless we take a grand leap out into the unknown?
xo
Ashley