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What is Wedding Film Photography?

This month on the blog, we sat down to talk to the lovely Ingrid with Molliner Photography about film photography, how it compares to digital photography, and what those differences mean for your wedding photos.

Ingrid Carney Molliner Photography

Tell us about yourself, Ingrid!

As a wedding photographer, based in Gainesville, I have celebrated almost 10 years of documenting joyful and crazy-in-love couples! After being a bride myself, and shooting over 175 weddings, I've realized the importance of the conversation over priorities on a wedding day.  Within that, what are some values couples have in terms of photography. Besides working with someone who has experience and someone you feel comfortable around, I always tell couples to do their research and figure out the style of imagery they are drawn to. We ask couples what draws them to certain images and why. Photography is an important investment and I think that it is critical to think of these things, because these photographs will be passed down to kids one day. You want to be in love with your images 10 years from now!

As a wedding photographer, I shoot in both digital and film photography, with an emphasis on film. A common question I get is, "Why film?" I hope this interview shares why I prefer to shoot film!

So, what is film photography? How is it different from other photography?

A photographer chooses to shoot with medium-format film as a type of medium to produce soft, romantic and classic imagery on wedding days. Film is a type of medium, just like digital is a type of medium. Think of it as a painter choosing acrylics or oils for their art. I show up on wedding days with my rolls, I use my light meter to find proper exposure with my couples and I deliver my film to a professional lab. From there it gets developed, scanned and emailed back to me as digital files so that I can return it to my couples. Also, I hardly have to touch my film scans, where I need to edit my digital images heavily to emulate film. See below for an example of an untouched digital and film image.

Digital vs film wedding photography comparison

Will film images look different than that of a digital shooter?

Yes! This is why I made the switch! I've spent years trying to edit and imitate what only film can do. Film has three things that stand out. 

1. Colors -  OH MY. The colors! They are softer and pastel-like. Skin tones are more even and softer.

film photography wedding portrait
film photography comparison digital photography
digital vs film photography comparison

2. Dynamic range - This is the range of brightness the camera is capable of. If I shoot a ceremony in the bright sun, film will retain a lot of the details in the shadows and highlights. 

wedding photography digital vs film

3. Smoother image - Film has that softer blend of tones and the most aesthetically pleasing bokeh (that dreamy, out-of-focus background) in portraits. This is why people describe film images as, "creamy," "dream-like" and "soft."

wedding film vs digital photoraphy
bride digital vs film portrait

Photo Credit: Coordination - Masterpiece Weddings

film photography portraits

Is one type of photography better than the other?

Just like a painter chooses the appropriate medium for their painting based on what they're trying to achieve, I believe the same for photographers. Like I mentioned before, if a couple values photography, they should do their own research to understand what type of imagery stands out to them and why. Styles are preferences. Personally, I prefer film photography for all portraits, bright light situations, cloudiness, detail shots and outdoor ceremonies because the images feel more timeless and romantic. You will see me switch to my digital camera during reception dancing or indoor ceremonies, because I prefer it for low-light and fast movement.

wedding reception film photography
wedding light and airy photography
wedding photography light and airy film

How is shooting different?

The overall look of film photographs are different from photographs from a digital camera, but so is the process of shooting! Personally, film allows me to slow down and be in the moment with couples, eliminating the rush so that posing feels natural. Of course, there are some moments where slowing down is not an option, so my digital camera comes in handy! Film, however, gives me the opportunity to direct my couples in ways that promote soaking in the moment, bearing witness to natural moments. Because shooting is different, it has forced me to be more intentional with every shot that I take. It forces me to pay attention to proper exposure in order to create an ideal image in camera, not in editing.

film photography portrait

As a photographer, I'm always chasing the light, but more so with film! Film is light hungry, so I help my couples plan out the best timing for portraits (and their ceremonies), so that I can achieve that sparkling effect that film has. I'm constantly evaluating light using my light meter to find the best light for portraits!

gainesville engagement photography

Isn’t "film" the same thing my parents had their wedding shot on?

Yes! Actually, the first mainstream digital camera wasn't actually released until the 90's, so the generations before us all relied on film for weddings! You will find that film photography has since evolved, though. You'll also find that film photography is actually a lot more popular than you think. The companies that produce film have come a long way, so the images I produce are not going to look the same style as our parents' images.  How much of the wedding is actually shot on film?

This varies from photographer to photographer, but I focus my bride & groom portraits, bridal party portraits, detail shots and outdoor ceremony shots to be majority film.

gainesville wedding photography
wedding photography gainesville, FL
elopement photography gainesville fl

What will couples receive after their wedding? Do you get digital copies of film photos?

When a couple gets their online gallery, the film and digital high-resolution images are delivered together in order of moments. The delivery is the same as digital photography.  If I wanted to hire a film photographer, what are some things I need to consider?

I appreciate this question as a photographer. If you value film photography, it's important to note that it requires coordination with your photographer over the timeline of your portraits, so that you can optimize the best light and imagery. Timing and lighting matters if you want that look! First looks are helpful because it allows ample time for portraits without rushing through the cocktail hour to fit family portraits, bridal party AND portraits of the couple. You'll get more film images out of doing a first look. Consider an outdoor ceremony if you want film during your ceremony. When selecting a room for getting ready, choose one with a lot of natural light! You won't regret it. Another thing to consider is that film is an expensive process, since it requires developing and scanning. But, in my opinion, it is WORTH IT EVERY TIME. So, figure out your priority investments for your wedding and move around your budget to focus on your values, while saving money in other areas (your wedding planner can help with this!). Remember, ask yourself what stands out about the imagery and if it will be timeless enough to be proud of years down the road. Film is an investment for the style.

Gainesville wedding film photography

Gainesville wedding photography

Where can we find you on social media?

If anyone wants to continue this conversation or see film work, I'd love to connect online! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.


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