Film changed my life and my career.
Film made me fall in love with photography again and stand out in my market saturated with very similar digital-only work. Shooting film alongside digital saved me from a creative rut, and allowed me to achieve a consistency and depth to my work that digital alone could not offer.
A few famous photographers are known by a single photograph, but most successful photographers are known for their consistent style. A style that works from image to image and brands a body of work as their own. Film gives you this consistency. Once you find a film stock you connect with, you can rest assured that the look you have chosen will stand the test of time and not be subject to the trends of the day.
Film also makes a photographer more ‘present.’ Instead of thinking about endless camera settings, and constantly checking the back of your digital camera after every shot, you can focus on being in the moment with your subject and wait for a personal connection or the decisive moment to take the photo.
Film also requires you to slow down and get it right in camera. Shooting film dramatically increased the number of keepers from every session I shot. Instead of keeping 2 out of every 10 photos, with film I was keeping 8 out of every 10 photos, a keeper rate of 80%! This meant less time culling and editing after a shoot, and more time with my family, doing things that I love.
Film offers an imperfect organic look that feels alive to me. Film feels more like a memory than an exact recording of an event. Digital was created by engineers to match reality EXACTLY. Film was made by artists over decades to convey aesthetics and beauty according to the many people that worked on each film stock.
So how did I get into film? Why shoot film professionally? How did I become a hybrid photographer? I’ve been a professional photographer since 2001. I’ve worked for newspapers, magazines, and stock agencies. I also started a wedding photography business I thought would be temporary. Now, after 15 years, and hundreds of weddings later, wedding photography and Mastin Labs are the main focuses of my professional life.
I’ve been shooting film since I started photography, and yes, I did get really excited when digital photography became affordable. I scrimped and saved to buy my first digital SLR and I thought I was set: goodbye film! But a strange thing happened: I couldn’t help but shoot all my personal work on film. It just felt right. I had a connection to it, and the process and look of film felt more real to me. It excited me.
Eventually, I ran into a problem. I was being one kind of photographer for myself (film) and a different kind of photographer for clients (digital.) I knew I wanted to shoot only film in daylight and keep digital for what it does best – super low light situations. So I decided to become a hybrid photographer: one who shoots with both film and digital.
Mastin Labs is my way of sharing what I know as a hybrid photographer and releasing products to make the lives of other photographers easier – even if they don’t shoot film. I want you to get a real film look for your digital photos, grow to love the look of film, and ultimately shoot with film. But I also want to make sure you run a profitable business while doing so.
I get so many questions about how I transitioned as professional digital photographer to a hybrid photographer so I decided to put the top 12 most frequently asked questions into this ebook, Transitioning from Digital to Film.
I hope this guide will help you as you make the decision to shoot more film as part of your professional repertoire. Should you have any questions about what you read, I’m happy to respond via the Mastin Labs User Group on Facebook. I get joy from sharing what I know with the photography community, so I hope you’ll reach out and say hello.