Before we go into tips on how to improve your film photography, let’s talk about the context. Most film photographers combine digital with film. While there are some people, who are vigorously protecting either film or digital, enjoying both is an excellent choice for your learning as they benefit each other.
Digital photography helps you to understand the way you want to frame your photos as you can see the outcome straightaway. Film on the other side is helping you to concentrate purely on a technical side of photography. Don’t take it wrong, both digital and analogue photography are great, and both of them are equally benefiting photographers to get more of a photography knowledge. No matter whether you prefer digital or analogue, these tips will help to improve your film photography skills.
Start Project 365
A 365 project is perfect for film photographers with any level of experience. Try taking at least one picture every day for one year. No excuses accepted (apart from something quite serious). You don’t have to use one roll per day (there is nothing wrong with that), just take one or two photos. In this way, one roll of 35mm film will last you for a month or so. Keep a journal of every photo and settings as this will help you to learn. In general, 365 photography project is such a simple and great idea to improve film photography.
Try different types of film
It sounds like a cliché advice, but it comes from the fact that lots of film photographers are usually stuck with one or two films they prefer to shoot with. You probably have a favourite film. This would be a film you love to shoot with, and you adore photographs that you get as a result. However, try other film brands and variations of ISO. There are so many different brands out there that you might be surprised. Do not be afraid to experiment. Find out what 35mm film to use for amazing results.
Remember the basics
Get your basics right. Choose will with right ISO depending on your shooting conditions. Go for ISO 200 or below if you are planning to take photos outside but make sure you avoid fast moving objects. ISO 800 or below is great if you are planning to shoot in darker conditions with fast-moving subjects. Don’t forget that with higher ISO film, you are likely to get more grain. ISO 400 is an all-purpose film that will be good for most situations. Don’t forget to choose right camera settings. Increase your shutter speed if it’s too bright, pick a bigger f-stop number and decrease your ISO. If it’s too dark decrease your shutter speed, choose smaller f-stop number and increase your ISO.
A match made in a lab
Find a lab that will help you to get the best outcome. The quality of your photos greatly depends on the lab you use. Do not make it too complicated by trying to do everything in-house. Invest in a good scanner and if you want eventually in a dark room. But don’t put yourself under pressure. Even scanning requires tonnes of experience. Try a few labs and choose the one you are happy with. Try a few labs and choose the one you are happy with so you can rely on their professionalism.
The last but not the least. Share some of your best work on social media and don’t forget to ask your friends or other photographers for some feedback. Obviously, someone’s opinion is rather subjective, but good critique can help to look at your works from a different perspective. Become a member of online communities such as forums, Facebook groups or other film photography blogs. If you are using Instagram, make sure you use appropriate hashtags so your photos can be found and participate in discussions or ask other photographers to review your work.
These are only a few tips that you can start using today to take your film photography to the next level. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes to learn from them. Do you have any tips on how to improve film photography? Please, share them in comments.