For two years, I felt like it was something that was just out of my reach. The fancy cameras I had no clue about. The C41 film options I had no idea how to pick. And don't even bring up the developing! I was overwhelmed by the thought of it and was afraid that if I got my heart invested in film, I would blow it. Or worse--feel like I was starting over...AGAIN! Months passed, our home changed from Charlotte, to Fayetteville, to Waikiki, to Honolulu, my brand evolved, but one thing always stayed the same: my attraction to film. Simply put I can look at 100 images, not being told which ones are digital and which are shot on film and you guessed it, my favorites will always be the medium format film. Like digital, not all film cameras or films are the same. Here's why medium format (the Contax645 in particular) + film now-a-days has all my love and affection:
1: The color: In my mind, it can't be beat. Nor duplicated. I've tried. I bought film style actions, I've tried to overexposed in camera to get the pastel-y look digitally, but nothing can compare to the variation in film stocks that gives those signature warm, heart fluttering tones. AND THE WHITES! Oooooh the whites! I love soft, white whites and if exposed correctly Portra especially is like oxyclean for your camera. "Get's your whites whiter, your brights BRIGHTER!". Yo that's my jam, sign a sistah up.
2. The Framing: I don't know what it is, but the full-frame Contax paired with the 80mm lens gives a crop and framing unlike other camera/lens pairing I have seen. It's an intimate framing where you can get super close while still including a lot of scene setting into the frame. This is hard to explain without seeing an example probably, but I always wanted a tighter crop with MORE in the shot, and finally I have a way to get the look I have been coveting. There's always a little 'extra' scene in film shots that to me, makes the image. (Remind me to show an example when I have one, K? K.).
3. The Softness: I used to sharpen the heck out of my final images, but somewhere down the line I grew to appreciate the subtle soft and dreamy effect of film (and digital images in their natural state, for that matter). Smooth skin tones, creamy background bokeh, and a slight softness makes my heart melt. This isn't so much about the actual film as it is the lens, which leads me to--
4. The Lens: As photographers we all know that your images aren't all about your camera rather than who is behind it, but some good gear will often times make one hell of a difference. Well, this is where a Carl Zeis lens comes into play. It's something about the glass (literally) on that thing that at the lowest aperture (2.0) creates a heavenly swirls of depth, softness, and luminous light! OY VEY! If you don't want to hop into film but love the look, you can purchase select Zeis lenses for Canon, hollerrrrr. Just be ready to get your manual focus on! I hear the 50mm is bomb, though.
5. The Exposure: When shooting film, there is an 'allowance' or sorts referred to as 'latitude' where you can overexpose an image a few stops more than what your light meter suggests and the final images will still retain the highlights (they won't be blown out) and in most cases (depending on the film stock) will look INCREDIBLE! To me, this was KEY and fit with my shooting style as I am an intentional overexposure. The more light the better! The fact that I can do what I love and produce super bright, dreamy images all while keeping highlights and details in couple's hair and skintones made me fall more in love. I mean, really.
6. The Intention: You have 16 shots (or if you are shooting 220, 32). You will be paying for their developing good or bad, so you make them count. There is something innately different looking through a film camera that, in turn, makes you shoot and thinking methodically. Sure, it's a much more relaxed, slow paced session but to me I know that in the end I will most likely have love every single one of those 16 shots. There's something just different about it. Am I being too bruting and deep? Maybe. But in all honesty, holding film in your hand makes you slow down and think more, which for me produces some seriously quality images. Simply put: it challenges me to be a better photographer, and can't we all use that every once in a while?
Finally after visions of warm and smooth bokeh and all things film-y, I finally decided that it was time to stop dreaming from afar and to make film apart of my workflow and life. I feel so strongly about it and the way it blends with my style and speaks to my heart, it was ridiculous to deny it out of fear of learning something new or being considered one 'going with the trends' but if I have learned anything in this 28 years it's that if you love it and it speaks to you, it's no longer a trend but your style. So I made the leap and bought my Contax and couldn't be happier to see my shooting sensibility flourish to a new level, one I have been knowing my personal style leans towards.
Want to set up an all film shoot? I'd LOVE to! Hit me up! Ashley@AshleyGoodwinPhotography.com