Why Learning Film Photography Helps Your Photography Business
The butterflies in my tummy were more like dinosaurs on a rampage. I sat in the car, too nervous to get out, delaying my arrival for as long as I could.
I walked to the door and rang the bell, feeling like I desperately needed the toilet (does anyone else get that when they are nervous, or is it just me). The glowing new mama opened the door and welcomed me into her home, all smiles and hugs.
There, in front of me, was the source of my nerves. A tiny, pink, kicking bundle of little legs and arms that I had no idea what to do with.
Help. How do I photograph this bundle in all its beauty, perfectly.
How can I make my shots good enough.
How can I possibly capture each precious eyelash and her gummy grins and tiny fingers and little rolls on the back of her neck like I see them, how can I use my equipment to show the world how wonderfully + perfectly she is made.
Of course I had my Pinterest inspiration boards. I had posing guides and lists and I knew my equipment like the back of my hand. I even had 2 years studio experience.
But this was so different.
No big umbrellas/ lights to hide behind. No confined studio space that was so familiar to me it felt like my own home. Nobody else around to ask for help or assistance.
When I first set up my photography business, I had a degree in Photographic Arts, a ton of marketing experience, and not much of a clue about how to photograph weddings. Or babies, or boudoir, or bridal portraits, or engagement sessions, or anything at all really.
I could completely handle complicated lighting set-ups or generating in-depth fine art conceptual shoots. But put a wriggling crying baby or highly stressed bride in front of me and I was virtually clueless.
Of course, experience helps you to grow. You learn what works and what doesn’t. (Shooting newborns, and maternity sessions, are now my absolute favourite things to shoot). As well as experience, my marketing background helped my business to expand + grow. It took a little bit of knowledge and some smart business moves to succeed. But as well as that, I attribute my business success to one other thing.
Learning to shoot film completely transformed my business. It sent my profits sky-rocketing and enabled me to step away from the money + profit fears that occupied my thoughts. It enhanced every area of my life.
Learning to shoot film worked as a huge part of my strategy and it can work for you too. Here is how I used film photography to grow my business- and how you can use it to grow your business profits.
1. It enabled me to increase my prices.
Because film is an intricate, marvellous process, it has that same stamp of authenticity, heritage, and history that accompanies it as, like records played on a record player, wine that has been left to age, and couture clothing.
It is a luxury process. Film isn’t disposable. You don’t have safety of a screen to check your shots. Film is developed and processed by hand. Because it is relatively expensive to learn and create film images (note- relatively) due to the time it takes to learn the skill, buy your equipment, and then the time involved in the film itself being processed, film is a luxury medium with all of the connotations of a luxury product.
Because film can be costly and time consuming and because of its luxury connotations (+ because I worked hard to make my film photography good, the same as you do if you are a digital shooter) I was able to increase my prices to cover those costs- and to increase my profits.
2. It gave me a unique style
Because there aren’t too many film shooters around, even now it’s becoming more popular again, in my local area (and far wider) I was able to use the fact that I shoot film as a unique selling point. Not all clients recognise the benefits of film and many of them were curious, which meant a great opportunity to open up conversation with them about its unique feel + my style- and why they should book me.
Being unique in my area meant that most of my clients come to me saying – I love your style! When your clients tell you that they love your work because they haven’t seen much other work like it, you know that you’re on your way to a successful business.
3. It freed up my time
Because of the little amount of editing required when shooting film and using a great film lab, I was left with free time on my hands that I could only dream of as a digital shooter. I mean literally, days. Whereas I used to take an entire day (and more) to edit a full wedding, now my wedding edits are done within a few hours.
I then found that I had much more time to spend on my marketing strategy instead of being chained to lightroom + photoshop; although for me the true value came in the amount of time it freed up for me to spend with my family.
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Learning film is a beautiful and exciting experience which enables you to create such beautiful work and completely transform your business at the same time.
It wasn’t just being able to learn to photograph screaming newborns or pose stressed-out brides or encourage new models that made the difference. Learning to shoot film really did transform my business, and it can work for you too.
Autumn is the perfect time to learn new skills or to deepen your understanding of specific areas and so we want to help you.
Checkout our Learn Film Photography guide for your FREE chapters (about a third of the way down the page, click the add to cart button to download for free, instantly and don’t worry – no payment required)!
And that’s it! Our guide has had amazing reviews as well as being featured over on Wedding Sparrow and 35to220; it will be an incredible boost or beginning to your learn film photography journey.