Learning Film

About a year ago I bought myself a used Contax 645.  A film camera.  It was my Christmas present to myself / tax write off / I’m in a creative rut and need a new toy present.  Film is SO intimidating.  I second guess myself all the time when shooting film.  There’s no LCD to check.  There’s no “spray and pray”.  Each time you press the shutter you are paying $2 so you have to get the shot. The Contax is all manual focus which is HARD when shooting fast kids.  Film is scary.

But, the results are oh, so beautiful.  It took me nearly a year to send in some of my film.  I was so scared each roll was going to turn out black.  And that the people at the film lab were going to think I was so lame and laugh at me and talk behind my back (can you tell I had issues in high school?).  However, I surprised myself.  I’m no Jose Villa, but there were some good shots.  Sure, there were a lot more bad shots than good, but the ones that were good were really good.  It almost makes me want to shoot film exclusively.  There’s no post work.  You just send it to the lab and they send you back beautiful scans and you are done.  Easy.  Except it’s really not that easy because shooting film is hard.  Sigh.

I’m going to keep practicing.  Maybe I’ll even bring it out on a real shoot or two.  With people who are older than 4 and will stay still for more than 10 seconds.

And if you’re interested I have been shooting with Fuji Pro 800Z film and the lab I have been using is Richard Photo Lab and I love them.  They put up with my endless questions and don’t make me feel stupid.  And I love how they have gone above and beyond to help me even though they know I am a beginner film shooter and won’t be giving them a ton of business.  They made me feel important and I appreciate that.


  1. Goodness. These are SO beautiful!!!!

  2. Aimee says

    Drew, these are beautiful! Their skin looks warm and creamy. But what if your subject has skin issues? Say newborns or your toddler has a bruise from a tumble…Are you just stuck with it since you don’t edit them?

  3. DrewB says

    Good question, Aimee! You can still edit the images. The lab sends you back scans of the negative. So they are essentially just like the jpeg you would get out of your DSLR. But, when you send in film the technicians are doing the color correcting for you. You can even ask to use a color profile they have on file so they are processed with a certain style. For instance, you can use Jose Villa’s color profile. I did that for the pictures of Kennedy on the bed and at the beach with the bunny ears. I wasn’t as happy with those as I was with just the normal correction. Although, they did send me prints of those images and the prints are much better than how they look on my computer. So, you can edit the scans, but you just don’t have to because they typically look really great!

  4. Leah says

    These are gorgeous images! The coloring is beautiful!

  5. Paige says

    Drew these are amazing!!! Every single one is so crisp and the colors just pop! Great job!!

  6. Misty says

    Film is amazing! I love shooting film!!! It’s so excited to get the scans back!

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