Finally sharing some of my 2015 film wedding photography. There was not a huge amount of wedding film images from 2015 as I am normally restricted to take digital wedding photos first then if have time to do some film wedding photography. Hopefully for 2016 it will become less and less digital and more film photography.
2015 did end on a high as I was asked to cover a wedding with two Leica photographer friends on New Year’s Eve. As the wedding day had digital photography cover from the other two Leica M 240’s (who were also shooting some film!) I was able to shoot more film than I usually can.
It was a dream wedding for me! Two reasons, (1) Firstly I was not tied down to having to shoot from the generic expected wedding photographer viewpoints (such as from the front of the ceremony and (2) I had time to shoot more film. 5 rolls of 120 Kodak Portra 400 on the Hasselblad and then 35mm film in the new Leica M6, a Leica M3 and Nikon F4!
It certainly isn’t a way to make lots of money from wedding photography (unless charge crazy high prices) but in my eyes film gives some of the nicest possible images. For me it is highest quality film images possible first, profit second. I offer film wedding photography to please myself as much as the couple and strive to better my last image at every wedding.
I look forward to sharing the resulting wedding film photos after the couple have received their wedding album. 🙂
Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography. A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each. By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me. I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.
Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography
If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos). Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.
For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes. It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation. Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip. The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below). I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film. I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat. I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film. I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.
Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.
Yesterday I had a special wedding to photograph in London. Every wedding is special but for the camera geeks among us this was special on a different level. I was chosen by a fellow Leica M 240 photographer’s wife to cover their wedding as I use a camera they both know and trust. In the lead up to the wedding I was looking to buy a Hasselblad medium format film camera so asked them if they would be happy for me to use it on their wedding day. It turned out the Leica shooter was actually a previous Hasselblad nut and had all the best equipment, bodies, lenses, finders and even a digital back! Not only that but he was selling it all to concentrate on Leicas. To cut an even longer story short, we agreed that the wedding payment could made in a currency I know well… Cameras!!
My new Hasselblad camera kit
Hasselblad 501C body (mint / boxed) + WLF + A12 film back + Hood
Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens
Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens
Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism viewfinder
I knew the wedding venue was going to be a low light affair as I had visited in advance to meet the couple. ISO 800-3200 using available light. I was glad I had upgraded my Leica M body from the M9 to the M 240 with its higher usable ISO. That said I was worried that there would not be sufficient light to handhold the Hasselblad camera without motion blur. With that in mind I treated my new Hasselblad rig to a lightweight monopod and head. I already have an aluminium Manfrotto monopod but find it too heavy to lug around with ease so it tends not to get used. I read various monopod reviews and the clear winner to me was the Sirui. As such I bought –
Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
Manfrotto 234RC quick release tilt head
Wedding macro photos
Leica cameras are not ideal for macro photography so when I take more than one camera to a wedding I like to have the option to shoot close up with the second camera. As such before my Hasselblad arrived I bought a 21mm Hasselblad extension tube. Used on the 80mm Zeiss Planar it lets me get very close to my subject and on the 150mm Sonnar something inbetween the Planar with the macro extension tube and the lens without. I fitted the 21mm extension tube to the 80mm for a few wedding detail photos during the day so it was money well spent.
Cameras for the wedding
Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.
Hasselblad camera kit
The Hasselblad kit consisted of the items listed above but with the addition of a loan lens for the day, the amazing Zeiss Distagon 40mm f4 lens for the wide angle shots. I used this instead of my new 50mm Distagon as I needed the extra width indoors.
Leica M camera kit
Leica M240 digital body (mine)
Leica M240 body (loan from groom as backup camera)
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH
Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 (not used)
Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
I knew I needed a film that I could push up to ISO 1600 and maybe even ISO 3200. My first plan was to buy Ilford Delta 3200 film but then I noticed on Flickr that people push Ilford HP5 400 film +2 stops to ISO 1600 with ease and even +3 stops up to ISO 3200. Delta 3200 film can be quite grainy even in 120 format and is more pricey than HP5. HP5 400 film looks like it can be pushed +2 stops to ISO 1600 and still get reasonably clean (low grain) negatives. As such I bought a supply a 120 Ilford HP5 film for the wedding. Luckily we had some sun outide so I was able to expose the HP5 at ISO 800. I used a shutter speed of 1/60 where possible and 1/30 where insufficient light. When there was even less light in the evening I added strobe light to boost light levels. I used all lenses at their widest apertures with the Hasselblad on the new monopod and with a shutter cable release. I also used the 45 degre PM prism for all photos as find it much easier to focus.
At times like this it really makes me appreciate my little Leica M3 rangefinder cameras. With a f1.4 lens I could have shot at the equivalent of ISO 200 (vs Zeiss Planar 80f2.8)(2 stops brighter) and handheld the camera for still photos at 1/15 (vs 1/60 with Hasselblad) giving me the equivalent of a useable ISO of 50 on the M3 vs ISO 800 on the Hasselblad.
Digital Leica M 240 – provided the practical, quick response, portable, non-imposing camera setup for when the wedding was moving at a faster pace.
Hasselblad 501C – brought the fun and excitement when the pace was slower and I had the time to carefully craft my images.
Leica M3 film camera (or perhaps the Nikon F4 SLR) – offer the perfect middle ground being both fast and film. Win win (but not present on the day).
I’m looking forward to reviewing the digital images from the wedding but I absolutely can’t wait to develop the Hasselblad film negatives to see how I got on.
It is nice to think that the Hasselblad 501C camera that the groom had bought new over 19 years ago (and that the bride remembers him using while she waited!) was used to photograph part of their wedding day.
Ultimate Wedding Magazine – Film Wedding Photography
Competition – Win Free Kodak Film Wedding Photographer
Competition Deadline 31st August 2015
MrLeica.com has teamed up with friends at Kodak Alaris and UK Film Lab to offer you the chance to win a free wedding photographer thanks to Ultimate Wedding Magazine. I will cover your wedding day for free* as a second photographer shooting exclusively with Kodak films (*Please see competition details for full T&Cs – link below).
Having Two Wedding Photographers
As the primary (or only) wedding photographer my creative possibilities are more limited as wedding photographers are always expected to stand in a certain place at certain times throughout the day to get the expected ‘key’ photos for the wedding album. Most wedding couples also expect digital photos so I find I never get the chance to shoot as much film as I would like to. For me this is a shame as I feel the film images look nicer with better colours and tones and with the soft timeless look. For my personal work and model photography film takes preference for all shoots. By offering my wedding photography services for free* as a second photographer you have no concerns that you wont have a complete set of expected digital photos as these will be captured by your primary photographer. My wedding photography will instead give you some additional unique looking photos to enjoy taken from a different perspective.
My Wedding Photography Style
I am a documentary style wedding photographer with a low key photojournalist/ editorial approach. My aim is to take photos that tell the story of your day and create lasting memories. The excitment and emotions of you and your guests, the wedding venue, the finer details and some stylised wedding portraits. My wedding portraits are a blend of fashion photography and low key wedding photography to create flattering yet natural looking photos.
Kodak Alaris and UK Film Lab
Kodak arguably produces some of the very best film with Kodak Portra as my go to film for colour wedding photography. Kodak Ektar is perfect for more saturated colours and for black and white film I use Kodak T-Max and Kodak Tri-X films. When it comes to film developing in the UK it doesn’t come much better that UK Film Lab. Christian and Erica offer a high end professional service to obtain the best possible prints and scans from the film negatives.
Is film better than digital?
Each photographer will give a different option depending on their preference but in honesty both are good and both have their strengths.
Digital – For me digital is better suited for low light photography; dark venues, indoor weddings and short overcast winter days. I tend to shoot less or no film if there is insufficient light as the resulting images would be very grainy. That said it is nice to get a few shots at the end of the day such as during the first dance.
Film – Film excels in bright sunny conditions such as outdoor weddings or locations that have lots of sunny blue sky days. Film also suits weddings where couples have gone to great lengths to pick a beautiful wedding venue and have an eye for the finer details.
Film has a softer more arty look than digital images produced by modern DSLR cameras. Many digital wedding photographers try to emulate the look of film with Photoshop plugins but why settle for imitations when you can have the real thing.
Is film right for your wedding?
Take into consideration the pros and cons of film detailed above, your wedding venue and the time of the year you will get married. Perhaps Google ‘film wedding photography’ images and see if you like the look. You might notice some the best photos are often taken in bright light and with the sun behind the subject.
Please find examples of my film wedding photography below using vintage Leica film cameras and various medium format film cameras.