I love being able to add film to my sessions. Whether it is with instant prints or 35mm, nothing makes a photo more timeless and classic than the look and feel that film provides.
I am partial to 35mm and 120mm medium format film. For those who don't know, 35mm is considered the standard film size, it is the type of film that was in those disposable cameras you probably got when you went on summer vacation or school trips as a kid.
120mm is the bigger cousin. Bigger is better in the film world, the larger the negative the greater the flexibility and the higher the quality of your finished prints. There are larger options available but for the way I shoot, usually on the move, rarely static on a tripod, these two film types give me the most flexibility for how I work.
To be totally honest you could make a strong argument that there is no practical reason to shoot on film in a digital age.
Film photography is slower and more expensive. Each film stock has its own temperament and if you don't know what it is best for or how to expose it, you can be quite disappointed with your results.
There is also the matter of getting your film developed and scanning your negatives. Which if you think about it, scanning kind of makes them pseudo digital photos anyway.
So why not just shoot digital and skip the hassle?
I would suggest that while all those statements are accurate, they miss the point.
Photography is still an art, speed and convenience don't change that. The process and intended product are still essential considerations for the artist to think about.
Simply put, film photography is NOT digital photography.
The process is completely different. It is much slower, more considerate and methodical than digital. You don't get endless chances to get it right. Only 12, 24, or 36 frames per roll. Only 1 ISO (ASA) setting as well. And unlike with digital photography, you don't get to see what you just shot until after the film is developed. These are hard set limitations that you have to consider if you want to make each shot count.
The product is also entirely different than a digital photo. The film is alive and tangible. It cannot be deleted or lost in the ether of the internet or a computer hard drive. You can print it, you can scan it, you can use it as a bookmark. The photo in your head becomes a real thing that you can hold in your hand, proof that you froze time.
Film photography also has a specific look and texture. A feeling that is unique to that stock. How each one handles colors or blacks and whites are different as well as the amount of grain and detail.
I have found that in a way, having fewer options to choose from with film stock gives you more control over your finished product. You know what the image is going to look like based on the stock you choose, the way you expose it and the camera you put it through.
When it comes to instant prints, they are in a world all their own. I love being able to break out the instant camera during a shoot.
They are great for a couple reasons.
First, the client is able to have a one of a kind print from their session immediately.
Second, the prints have a very specific look and feel that is unique to that individual print, nothing is really like it so that adds to the specialness of the photo.
Third, they are just so dang fun! Taking a picture and watching it pop out of the camera with a whirr of plastic gears and rollers is thrilling!
Then you have the added bonus of being able to watch the photo develop right before your eyes. I have yet to see a client get bummed out while playing with an instant camera.
In a society that is increasingly demanding perfection beyond reality and instant gratification, film photography is a stalwart for patience, process and the perfectly imperfect. Film is not dead, it is very much alive. It is just changing into its new roll in the toolbox for photographic artists.
I have no plans on giving up my Fuji XPro2 digital camera any sooner then I plan to give up my Yashica Mat 124G medium format film camera. I am so thankful that I was able to learn on digital and grow on film. I wouldn't trade one for the other. They are both necessary for the way I create my photos and tell my stories.