Film Wedding Photography: Our Guide + Everything you need to know

Post Created: 25.03.2021 - Posted in Mentoring

Most people think digital cameras are the only thing that can take beautiful, crisp images. But this isn’t the case. Stunning, high-quality images can be created using film cameras. And they may actually be perfect for your next wedding shoot.

The way film cameras capture an image gives them a look that can’t be replicated with a digital one. No matter the amount of editing or equipment you use. This look adds warmth and character to the photos. One that can really enhance wedding images.

As wedding photographers, we understand that there’s a lot to consider if you decide to use film cameras for your next wedding shoot. As a result, to help sway you, here’s everything you need to know about using a film camera for your next big day.

film camera resting on bush


Buying a film camera, even a very good one, is drastically cheaper than purchasing a good digital camera. And there are plenty around.

Some companies are still producing film cameras but you’re set with an old one. Make sure it uses a film that is still produced and processed today. And do your research on what the best camera is going to be for you.

The Pentax K1000 is a strong camera. It’s durable and almost entirely mechanical meaning it will stand the test of time. There’s also a built-in light meter although this does require a battery.

Film cameras often have bigger differences between them than digital ones do. Where in digital cameras, most high-end models can all do basically the same thing. Each film camera will have pros and cons. So look through carefully.

For the body alone you’ll be looking at $100 – $200 for a very good piece of kit. Some come with interchangeable lenses that can add cost. But many don’t.


The other major cost that comes with film cameras is the actual film itself. This will quickly overtake the actual price of the camera. A roll of film can cost around $10 for a 36 image roll. If you’re used to digital cameras then I’m sure you’re also used to taking well over 36 images a shoot, maybe more like 3600. So buying all that film will quickly add up. And then there’s the cost of having it developed. Unlike a digital camera, you can’t just plug it in and see all the work. It has to be developed. There are many ways of doing this.

If you’re looking at film for a one-off shoot then paying for it to be developed would be the best option. Just include this in the shoot price. However, if you’re planning on incorporating a film camera into your regular kit then it’s going to get expensive and fast. In this case, we’d suggest developing the film yourself. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. The equipment and chemicals required are readily available online. Although it increases the cost of the original investment, it will pay for itself over time.

How to develop at home

Self-development will require access to a dark room. I’d suggest blacking out the bathroom window and using that since having a sink available can help. Alternatively, some processing equipment is completely light proof meaning as soon as the film is in there you can switch the lights back on. For us, the best option is to then take the developed, dry film and scan it into a computer. From there you can invert the colors and get the film print straight onto your computer. This is ideal if you’re used to working digitally.

The other option would be to print the images in a dark room. You’d need the proper equipment as well as a dedicated darkroom to get prints of the images. Overall this is a far more complex way of doing things. As well as more costly in both time and money.

Doing it in a darkroom also removes almost all editing options. You can change the exposure and size of an image. That is all. If you want to make any finer adjustments then scan them straight into a PC.

4 rolls of used film on desktop


Shooting in film is, on the surface, no different from shooting digitally. You line up the shot and you click the shutter. However, digital cameras have far more options than film ones do, As well as automatic focus, aperture, and ISO. Film cameras are almost completely manual. This means it’s down to you to select the exact setting you need for the shoot. This is where the technique comes in and the best way to learn is purely by practice.

Our advice for shooting is to use what you know about digital settings and do some research, to know roughly where to start. Then just go out and get shooting. We’d suggest you take out your camera and some cheap rolls of film and just shoot everything and anything. Fill up a roll and get it developed. Remember there’s no preview of the images. And no deleting the bad ones.

Once you’ve seen the developed images learn from them. Keep this going until you’re truly comfortable with the camera. Then you’re ready to take it on a wedding shoot.

Equipment and Outcomes

A film camera is typically an accompaniment to a digital one on a shoot. The limited number of photos and the lower quality makes it a poor choice as the main camera. But this doesn’t mean the photos you get won’t be treasured. Use this to capture some special moments whilst using your digital one as the main camera. This means you won’t need much equipment for the film camera.

If the camera you’ve chosen doesn’t come with a light meter then it’s essential to carry a handheld one to know what setting you’ll need to shoot in.

When a client specifically asks for a film camera then maybe bring a change of lens and extra rolls of film. If not then keep a standard lens on the camera and maybe one extra roll if needs be. These film images are simply the cherry on top. Not the main meal.

So there you have a guide to film wedding photography. These images will be a gorgeous accompaniment to your digital work and are an amazing addition to any portfolio.