I fell in love with photography in a college dark room- developing my film, seeing my photographs bloom to life on a previously-blank piece of 5×7 paper, it was magic to me! Film was like a person on a moving train who reaches out to grab you by the hand, pulls you into the train car, and speeds off at 80 miles an hour. That dark room was my train car, and every time I stepped back into it, my pulse literally quickened.

In 2012, I decided to try shooting color film, and I fell in love all over again! It was a steeper learning curve than with black & white, but after a few months I felt like I’d finally gotten the hang of it. But then I tried integrating film into my wedding workflow and, to be candid, it totally freaked me out. The change it would have inevitably brought was just too much of a shift, when I still felt like I was trying to nail the rhythm of my digital work/workflow. So I wrote this blog post to make it official- film was just going to be my personal project!

So I shot all my travel work on film. And I am obSESSED with my travel work.

Paris, France film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

And then I began shooting my anniversaries with film + digital. And I fell even more in love with those, too!

Paris, France film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

And then my ballerina sessions came next, and those took my breathe away…

DC film ballerina photographer | Abby Grace

And then my dear friend, Natalie Franke, asked me to do her headshots + new branding photos last May. But she specifically asked if I’d be willing to do them on film. “I love all your work! But…I especially love your film work.”

DC film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

She wasn’t the only one saying that to me- my friend Lauren Swann had uttered a similar sentiment months before that. And before her, it was my business soulmate Katherine Bignon saying the same thing. And there were more- always the same thing, that they liked my digital work too, but there was just something even BETTER about the work I did with an analog camera.

New York film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

I FINALLY took the hint. Because even I can admit that I get more excited to shoot when I know film’s going to be involved- the process, the wait on the lab, the look, all of it just gets me SO jazzed!

Dane & Allyson’s wedding in December was my first time shooting film at a wedding since 2012… and I was SO HAPPY with how it all turned out! I shot digital backups of everything, just to be completely safe, but it turned out to be redundant- the film came out beautifully!

Stone Tower Winery wedding | Abby Grace Photography

So, how does that change things now?

Well, for starters, it means a bit more equipment to tote along to each wedding. I upgraded to a larger camera bag to accommodate the additional two medium format film cameras I bring along, as well as my light meter and a 35mm Canon EOS3. Oh, plus a bag full of film!

DC film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

It also means that I’ll now be shooting with 2-3 cameras, instead of the one I only ever used to carry. To help with that, I bought a Holdfast MoneyMaker harness, and I LOVE IT. It’s already made my life so much easier in the few weeks I’ve been using it! And, as a bonus, it makes me look like I’m not to be trifled with.

(I was going to use the term “BA” here, but didn’t want to cuss on my blog, so I searched Google for “alternative terms for BA” and my favorite result was one who is not to be trifled with. Thank you, Urban Dictionary).

And then there’s the fact that instead of going home and simply uploading cards, I’ll now upload cards AND send film off to a lab (and wait about 2 weeks to see the results). Which means it’s like Christmas when those scans arrive in my inbox!

Paris, France film wedding photographer | Abby Grace

But all of those are trivial changes. It doesn’t alter the products my clients will be receiving, other than the fact that I believe the photos they’ll end up with will be even BETTER than what I was producing before. Because for some reason, something changes when I pick up my film camera- this sweet little dose of magic happens, and the resulting photos are ALWAYS worth the process.

I can’t wait for what this year brings. If the film scans from my first wedding of the year (they just landed in my inbox last night!) are any indication, it’s going to be a phenomenal wedding season!

Decision on Film, part deux

April 28, 2017

  1. Jean says:

    Your work is always gorgeous! Your film work is phenomenal!

  2. Karen Field aka Mom says:

    Love how you get excited about something new. It is infectious!

  3. Erin Schrad says:

    I remember asking you a few years ago about hybrid shooting your weddings and how you had decided not to then… so it’s exciting to see you doing this now! Congrats!

  4. I’m so proud of you for this decision, Abby!! And jealous… I don’t have the guts to try film for anything but vacation & travel! haha

  5. […] was the world’s biggest vote of confidence ever, and one of the factors that contributed to this decision over the winter […]

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