“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about film?
I adore the look of film. There are a lot of actions and presets out there that try to mimic the look film, but they don’t quite hit the mark. If you want the film look, shoot film! There is sooo much to film that I hold dear to my heart: the dynamic range, the grain, the physical act of loading and then winding film in a camera, the aroma of a darkroom, and the beautiful color palette of some film stocks.
When did you first shoot film? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
When I was a little girl, my dad would always bring a Polaroid camera home from work and extra film and let me play with it (ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone). I absolutely loved taking photos of my stuffed animals and Barbies! But, that probably doesn’t count, right? 😉
I met a beautifully talented photographer, Shannon Wilkinson, who shoots mainly black and white film. I fell in love with her images…the grain, the rich blacks and white whites. This, THIS is what I wanted to learn. After chatting with her about books, cameras and film, I decided to go for it. I picked up a Canon EOS 3 first and later a Pentax 645n and haven’t looked back..
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying Film for the first time?
I can tell you how I started and hopefully, it will help you in your journey.
First, I read the book, “Film Is Not Dead” by Jonathan Canlas. You can pick up a copy on Amazon. He really goes into everything film.
Once I finished reading it, I purchased my first 35mm camera. I decided to go with a Canon EOS 3 because it’s affordable and compatible with all of my Canon lenses. It’s important to think about which camera you want to invest in. After shooting only film for a few months, I upgraded to a Pentax 645n and primarily shoot with it now. It is my beloved
Now that you have your camera, you will obviously need some film to put in it. Research film stocks and look at how different stocks handle colors and light. For example, Fuji 400H craves light so I couldn’t shoot this in my living that is like a dark cave. I love shooting this film outside on bright summer days in our backyard at our pool. Another film stock I use often is Kodak Portra 400. This is one I’ve been experimenting with lately. Portra works great outdoors and makes green grass look fabulous.
Remember that dark cave of a house I live in? Well, I’ve been learning to love it with film. It’s important to play, experiment and try new things. Film doesn’t have to always be bright and airy. It can moody. Grain is good!
Now that you have your gear, learn your camera. It’s going to be a little confusing, especially if you’re coming from the digital world. Keep a notebook with you when you go on shoots to remind yourself of what each stock should be rated, how to meter, etc. One of the hardest things for me to get past in film was that it has a higher dynamic range than digital. Film can retain a lot detail in blown highlights whereas digital cannot. The opposite holds true for blacks though…if you clip your blacks, they cannot be brought back in film and can make a film image look muddy. It is only through experimentation that really learn the nuances of film.
Just like printing with digital, you’ll have to choose a professional lab. I cannot say enough wonderful things about The FIND lab. They are amazing! No matter your skill level in this journey, contact them. The editors are incredibly kindhearted and will go out of their way to help and explain things to you.
One of the greatest features of shooting film? It will make you a better photographer. Why? You MUST shoot with intent. With the invention of DSLR, amateurs, hobbyists, and photographers fire off their cameras like they’re shooting fireworks on the fourth of July. You’re left to cull from hundreds of images and decide which are “keepers”. A roll of 35mm film has 36 exposures, while most rolls of 120 film have 16 exposures. When you have little room for error, you will shoot with purpose. You’ll no longer have the mindset of “I can fix this in Photoshop” but instead, “I can get this right in camera the first time.”
About the photographer:
Heather Stockett is a hybrid photographer. Her heart belongs to 5 men: the one who raised her, the one who married her, and the 3 who call her “mommy”. They live in their hometown of Hattiesburg, MS where they enjoy swimming in Lake Serene and cheering on their Oak Grove Warriors & Golden Eagles. When Heather is not photographing her boys, she loves dancing with them in their record room with vinyl collected from T-Bones Records.