It seems you mostly shoot on film but, as every photographer knows, film can be kinda inconsistent in quality. How do you do your big shoots with lots of external factors stressing on you to deliver perfectly. Do you shoot with a digital back? Do you shoot everything digital as well? I only ask because as I’m starting to get more shoots in local editorials I’m feeling more pressured to shoot digitally.
Is film inconsistent: There is nothing inconsistent about film, as long as you meter. And soon, you build a meter in your mind. Film, if anything, gives me a +/- 2 stop safety net, whereas digital gives me a half stop at best.
How do I make film work for me on big shoots: My friend, photographers have been shooting BIG jobs on film for decades.
It’s amazing how digital photography all of a sudden made shooting film on assignment, or for commercial work (which I still can get away with, sometimes), seem RISKY. The possibility of exposed film/botched film seems almost more manageable to me then a corrupted card or something like that (and that’s why there are digi techs and why they get paid bank to keep assets safe).
Again, people are gonna argue either way, but the idea of needing a backup for film is such a 21st century mindspell. Ask any of the photographers working professionally from the 30’s to 2005 how they mitigated the risk of shooting film and they’d spit out their milk or whiskey. All you gotta do it be diligent and attentive and care alot, the same you would for digital, or anything else in this world.
On shooting film on assignment/getting pushed to shoot digitally: Girl, do what you want. As long as you satisfy the client’s needs (budgetwise, visually, and turnaround-wise) shoot exactly and only what you want. Your style, your preferred method, your everything… and that bleeds into camera choice too. You need to make the shots your own and give it your own flavor and style. It’s a win-win-win-win-win. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
There have been so many shoots where I shot on film cause I love my RZ and 7 so much. It wasn’t the client’s decision, it was mine. But we all win. I get to have fun and use my favorite cameras, they win cause they get the best work I can make with my favorite cameras, and I probably get hired again cause I made work in my own style, not some degenerate 5D look (the ten or so photographers withheld from this statement, you know who you are). I’m not trying to pick fights or make blanket statements, I’m talking about what works for ME. If a 5D works for you, go to town.
Let’s continue talking about the economics of having fun for a second. Photography shouldn’t feel like a job. We all got into it for the love of taking photos. Though it’s sometimes hard to keep it in that realm once you start working more, you need to keep the value of “having fun” and “loving life” at the forefront of your little start-up business. I’ll level with you. This can be a long, bumpy, often solitary career, and you will need as many positive forces in your life and work as you can find. For me, shooting with my favorite cameras and film stands at the forefront. It keeps me excited to go into the studio every day for 6-8 hours and toil away at a photography business. It keeps me excited to travel. It keeps me connected to why, and how, I started shooting photos when I was 14 years old. Shooting film is a giant pain in the ass, time-consuming, and not by any means a “smart decision” but I love it and it’s totally worth all the extra time and money to me.
There were tons of assignments I lost money on cause I shot film as opposed to digital. Did I enjoy the shoots more? Yes. Do I remember each of them still? Yes. Do I think it helped me get more work? Yes. Was it a good investment? Entirely. If a small editorial client doesn’t get why you’re not shooting digitally, it’s probably because they haven’t had anyone request it for 2 or 3 years. As long as you tell them you can come in on-budget (often you’ll lose some money) and on-time, they’ll usually leave it up to you.
So, to circle back. Shoot what you want, with the camera you prefer, in the style you love. Whatever this recipe is for you, follow it. Bam.