Officially, I’m a “hybrid photographer”, which means that I shoot both film and digital. Each photographer has a different film to digital ratio if they are hybrid, but it’s all under the same umbrella category. I love film with my whole heart and shoot it as much as I can during a wedding. The dynamic range of film is incomparable, and the tones are exactly what I’ve always envisioned for my work. However, digital still has it’s place in the wedding day. During receptions, for example, when I’m shooting with flash and, during late-night dancing, when I’m shooting lots and lots of images. Sometimes, I’m just impatient and want to see what a frame will look like, so I’ll take a few digital images throughout. Bottom line, I don’t think it’s completely necessary (for my workflow) to abandon digital entirely.
Since shooting film is drastically different than shooting digital, I have to balance both throughout a wedding day, and afterward to ensure they are a cohesive final product for my clients. Over time, I’ve worked out an ideal workflow that makes the most sense for me. I wanted to share it in case it proves helpful to any other photographers who are beginning to incorporate film into their work. This post focuses on post-wedding workflow, but I’d be happy to answer any other workflow questions in the comments.
1. THE WEDDING
Prior to the wedding I have already decided & budgeted for how much film I’m going to be shooting throughout the day. I shoot both 120mm and 35mm film, as well as supplementing with digital as needed. Typically I’ll shoot the bridal prep with 60% film, the B&G portraits and wedding party with 70%-80% film, the ceremony with 40-50% film, details with 80% film, family portraits with 50% film, and the reception at 10-20% film (unless the reception is during the day, then I’ll shoot ~50%). Once I shoot a roll it immediately goes into a plastic ziploc bag. I do my best to number the rolls, but when I don’t have a film loader/assistant I don’t always have the time during the wedding day.
2. NIGHT OF THE WEDDING
As soon as I get home I immediately import the digital images and back them up in two different locations. I then cull the selects from the digital shots and edit 1 or 2 digital sneak peeks with Mastin Labs, trying to guess from experience what the film equivalent will look like. I try not to edit any other shots, as tempting as it is, because I will just have to reedit once I get my scans back to match them. I either post that digital shot on Facebook/Instagram or email the couple that sneak peek shot a few days after the wedding.
3. FIRST WEEKDAY AFTER THE WEDDING
On the first weekday after the wedding, I mail my film to my lab/magicians/stellar humans, Photovision. I use tracking and request a signature to ensure that they arrive safely in Oregon. I find that their Normal size scans are definitely big enough for any large albums or enlargements.
4. SCAN DAY
As soon as I get my scans back from Photovision I immediately cull the shots and edit them lightly. Usually I’m just skin editing and perfecting the density using this technique. After I do this, I can begin matching the digital shots to the film from each part of the day. I use “anchor images” to emulate the film in my digital images, again using Mastin Labs presets. The presets are an amazing start point, but everyone has to go the extra mile if they want to match their scans perfectly. I take my time with this step, because I believe consistency is super important to my brand.
5. IMAGE DELIVERY
I deliver images to clients via gallery. My film and digital images are always mixed together, not separated. This way, my clients can see the images from the day in chronological order (again, consistency). Many clients opt to order 4.5×6″ proof prints of their images, which I think is a gorgeous, fine-art way of keeping one’s wedding images.
Feel free to comment below with questions or your personal hybrid workflow tips! Cheers – CK