In the realm of business and family photography, the choice between film and digital has never been more critical. While film photography bears the allure of a bygone era, exclusively shooting film for business work in 2024 might be a decision that hinders rather than enhances your professional journey. So in 2024 I can’t help but ask….should you hire a photographer who shoots film for professional work?
For almost a decade I shot film for many family session. There is nothing quite like the experience of taking photos and not knowing what the results are. Sending your film off and waiting in anticipation for the day you get the email that your images are ready is truly exhilarating. Opening each file in surprise and amazement is a feeling I just can’t get enough of. So when I tell you that this new launch of the business did not include film photos I am sure that might be a shock. I know it was to a few people in my life. However, although I still shoot film in my personal life I do not believe for client work is a benefit. Here are a few of the reasons why.
1. The Need for Expedited Turnaround
In the fast-paced world of business, time is often of the essence. Exclusively shooting film introduces delays inherent in film development and processing. You must ship the film out, wait for them to process and scan and then upload. During busier times of the year it can be weeks for this process.
Digital photography, on the other hand, provides an immediate turnaround, allowing you to swiftly deliver high-quality images to your clients. I love being able to show quick previews from the back of my camera or upload the day or two after the session. This is such a huge benefit for parents who leave a chaotic session thinking we didn’t get one shot. I also love providing my clients with a quick turnaround so that they can then share them with friends and family while they are excited.
I knew a quick turnaround was going to be important to me and unfortunately film developing is not make that possible.
2. Budgetary Constraints in the Digital Age
I do believe it is much cheaper to enter photography shooting with film. I can pick up a cheap film camera for under $50 and a roll of film for $10 and shoot 36 exposures. Then developing is another $10-$20. So for under $100 I can start taking photos. With digital that would not necessarily be impossible but the quality of images you are getting on a $50 camera would most likely not be great. 6 MP files sizes or so. So the initial start up cost might be more expensive but you do not have to update cards after each shoot or pay for developing, scanning or shipping. If you plan to shoot alot and often the price of digital images will be much less in the long run.
While film photography carries its own charm, it comes with a significant financial investment. Even though I appreciate film and I am willing to pay the extra I found that most clients did not want to front this cost. In order for me to offer this into the collections I had to add an additional $30-$40 per roll and it was about 5-6 rolls a session. Those are just my costs, not one penny of profit to me. After spending alot of time trying to figure out if that extra cost benefited my clients I came to the decision it did not. In 2024 Digital has come a long way. For most of my clients they would rather save the money on film costs and get prints instead.
3. Flexibility in Post-Production
Digital photography opens the door to a world of post-production possibilities. The ability to fine-tune colors, tones, and compositions during post-processing allows you to tailor your images to the specific needs and preferences of your business clients. Exclusively shooting film might limit your creative flexibility, whereas a hybrid approach empowers you to harness the strengths of both mediums, ensuring your work is not only timeless but also finely tuned to contemporary expectations.
4. Adapting to Varied Lighting Conditions
Photo sessions often present challenges in terms of lighting, whether it’s a well-lit outdoor location or a dimly lit home. Digital cameras excel in adapting to diverse lighting conditions, offering higher ISO capabilities for low-light scenarios. Exclusively shooting film might limit your ability to capture the full spectrum of business environments, whereas incorporating digital into your toolkit ensures you’re equipped to handle any lighting challenge that comes your way.
I knew I wanted to be able to shoot inside and outside easily. Digital allows for me to make this change quick and simple.
I also find that digital autofocus is miles ahead of film cameras. Which when you are photographing little children not only makes my job easier, but they can run around and be more themselves.
5. Streamlining Workflow for Business Efficiency
Efficiency is paramount in the business world, and your workflow as a photographer should align with this principle. Exclusively shooting film introduces additional steps in the workflow, from sending film for development to waiting for prints. A more streamlined workflow, achievable through digital technology, allows you to focus on the creative aspects of your work and meet the demands of a fast-paced business environment.
I always found the bottleneck in my process was waiting for film and then trying to organize the files so that I could export into a gallery that flowed right. Digital I just uplaod and start culling and editing. So much easier and no waiting or reorganizing.
In conclusion, while the allure of exclusively shooting film for business work is undeniable, a pragmatic approach that highlights the strengths of digital can be a game-changer in 2024. The need for expedited turnaround, budgetary considerations, flexibility in post-production, adaptation to varied lighting conditions and streamlined workflow not only will benefit you as a family photographer but be a huge benefit to your clients.
I would love to hear more in the comments about what you think. Many photographers will not agree with me. I might even have some clients who disagree with me. I will say that if I had a client who wanted to pay the extra for film I would love to add that to their collection. However, for my overall business model I have not added this to the current collections for the reasons listed above.
So what do you think…Should you hire a photographer who shoots film?
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