We caught up with our friends at Artistry to explore the trend of using film photography over digital, and hear about some of the challenges and advantages it’s bringing to the industry.
What new trends are you seeing at the moment?
Film has become fairly standard for editorial and personal projects for some time now. However it seems to have finally filtered down to commercial clients and we are seeing a lot more requests for it on money jobs (including some quite big global campaigns).
Why do you think the usage of film cameras is back?
It came back as a reaction to the over-cold and sterile style of the 00s. It was initially used by the younger generation of photographers coming through but soon those veterans (who developed their style back pre digital) started to revert as well. The warmth and depth of colour combine with the softness of the grain to deliver images that feel more personal and human. There may be a feeling of nostalgia involved too as I think many people had subconsciously missed the richness and warmth of images from their childhood.
Is this trend driven by the photographers/videographers or is this something being requested by clients?
Photographers very often prefer to shoot on film but as I mentioned more and more clients are requesting it as they can see the benefits of using images that have a more personal and warm feel to connect better with their customers.
What are the benefits of using analogue versus digital cameras?
There are very few practical benefits from using film cameras. They can be old and have more moving parts to go wrong than a digital camera. The sourcing, handling and transportation of film also adds a level of logistical complexity for producers and photo teams.
The one creative advantage is that the images cannot be viewed by the photographer and client as they shoot. Although this can be disconcerting to clients used to the digital process it actually allows for a more trusting and creative process. Instead of seeing you ‘have the shot’ on screen and then moving on ; the process with film instead encourages you to keep shooting and trying different ideas (to ensure everything is covered). The fear of not knowing what is captured can really change the whole process.
What challenges does film bring for creatives?
Not seeing the images as they are shot can be very unnerving for some clients. The Creative directors who bring in analogue photographers need to be brave and good at reassuring the client that they should trust the artist and the process. We are seeing a big increase in compromise situations where photographers are asked to shoot digital and then move on to film once the client is happy it has been covered off in digital first. They almost always then choose film images afterwards but both for creative and practical reasons it can be a good option (especially with big campaigns where a lot hangs on the images). The other option for nervous clients is to shoot 90% digital and then take a few film rolls at the end to try and match the digital images too (in post production). It is never as good but retouchers are getting better and better at getting things very close in feel.
Can you tell us any examples of issues arising due to analogue film?
There is always more risk with the film process. There are risks too with the digital process but the problem with film is that the issues won’t reveal themselves until after the film is processed (when it is too late to rectify). It is also much easier to back up digital files instantly. However there are good solutions to minimise risk. I would advise to always cover the shot off in digital too (if the client can afford both set ups). I would also recommend swapping cameras every roll (so any issues caused by a camera will be kept to 50% of all shots). Bad film stock and / or processing issues are extremely rare but most processing houses have good procedures in place to test and ensure any issues are not applied across the whole job. In short, don’t put all your eggs in one basket! If you work with good people that know how to handle, transport, store and process film then the risks are pretty low. Lastly, having good insurance (and knowing what it will and won’t cover) is of course a must.
Thank you very much for sharing your insights, Artistry.
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