Ok, so you agree with me that film photography has something very special. Not only the look but also the whole process of shooting, having it developed and then finally get your film back. For this reasons I have listed 5 tips to get started and stay motivated for shooting film.
1. Buying film.
The first rolls I ever shot were all Kodak Portra 400, which is pretty expensive. I remember thinking that the best film would give me the best photos (which is an illusion when you start). I shot those rolls while learning to shoot for the first time and I made a LOT of mistakes. I had spent a fortune on Portra while not getting the results I wanted. Because I was still learning.
I would advice you to shoot on cheaper film first. That doesn’t necessarily mean expired film or that you shouldn’t start with brands like Kodak. But for example Kodak Colorplus 200 is 3 times cheaper than Kodak Portra 400 and you won’t be broke that soon.
2. Overexpose your shots.
When I started I was just too excited about it and didn’t look up much on the internet before. I wanted to make my photos a little moody and dark and ended up with all of my photos very underexposed. Some film seem to work well with underexposed photos (please let me know in the comments which ones haha), but most of them work way better with overexposure.
There are two ways to do this.
The first one is to always expose the dark parts in the photo well, so point your camera at the darkest part of in the frame and then expose. Then point back, and take the picture.
The second way is to trick your camera in believing it’s shooting in a lower ISO. Putting your ISO in 200 while it’s a 400 film will help you overexposing since the camera believes you’ll need more light anyways.
3. Be patient, don’t give up.
I agree it is sometimes annoying to wait a long time before your photos to be developed. And when you finally get them back, to be dissapointed seeing images that really aren’t the way you thought they would be. I only can tell you this; If I would have judged on the first rolls of film I shot, I would’ve quit straight away and never have seen so much progression in such a short time.
The annoying thing of film is patience, but the great thing is seeing you developing so fast. I really believe you kind of learn more with shooting film. It requires you to think harder for achieving a better photo all the time, because every roll is limited.
4. Which filmlab you choose does make a difference.
Maybe that “1h photo service”-sentence from the 90’s at a grocerystore close by your house seems attractive but if you ask me choosing a good lab to develop your film will help you a lot in different ways. Not only will you be in contact with people from the field, you will also receive (better) feedback and they really take the time to develop your film as you wish.
5. Don’t hestitate too much while shooting.
I love the fact to think good about every picture while shooting. But if you are like me, you are thinking 5 times about the shot before you take. It’s totally ok to be a perfectionist, and to know what you are doing. But with film, sometimes this could work against you. I have missed so many shots just because I doubted, and then later I was frustrated of not having taken it.
Just shoot! Even though you shoot on film, and the shots are limited every roll. The worst thing that could happen is getting back some photos you are not really happy with. But it is important to make yourself comfortable with just shooting.