My Love Affair with Film

Today’s Film Friday blog post comes from pro photographer Caroline Tran. You can follow her on Facebook or visit her website.

Caroline will be presenting at Imaging USA 2016 in the Kodak Alaris booth #1820.  Join her on January 10  & 11 @ 4:00 PM! We look forward to seeing you there.

Caroline Tran 2

My love affair with film began in college, when I first started taking art classes to balance out the heavy workload of my physics major. I ended up loving photography and one of my professors asked about my future plans; at the time I was set on continuing to get my master degree at UCLA and hadn’t considered photography as anything further than a hobby. He said, “I see so much potential in you,” and encouraged me to audit an extension class he was teaching there. It’s really funny to me now because back then I didn’t think as a grad student I’d have time for my “hobby,” but I loved it.

Caroline Tran

I loved the unique, nostalgic look of film and learned the ins and outs of working with it in my classes. While in grad school, I started planning my own wedding and fell right into the beautiful world of weddings and all the gorgeous details that come along with it. I loved the planning aspect so much that I just wanted to have a side business so I could keep my foot in that world. I had no idea that my little business would blossom into what it is today but I’m incredibly grateful to be able to work in a field I love and am passionate about.

When I started in the industry, many photographers were switching to digital photography, and that’s the age we live in. I wanted to go forward with the direction the industry was going, but found myself spending many hours behind the computer editing. Especially having started learning on film, I had a set standard for the look and feel of the colors that I fell in love with in college. I found myself spending an exorbitant amount of time on editing my photographs; I wanted a consistent look for my photos and would spend hours at the computer in post-process, getting all of my digital photos to look like film. The look is really important to me and it’s incredibly difficult to replicate. However, as my business started expanding and I had more opportunities to travel and shoot weddings abroad, I realized that the amount of time on editing wasn’t sustainable, especially if I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family.

I was pregnant with my first son, Cameron, when I made the decision to move to film. If I was spending so much time editing my photos to get that film quality aesthetic, why not just shoot film to begin with? Getting pregnant was the catalyst: I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family and less time behind the computer. I needed my business to be more efficient and wanted to work smarter.

I tried a few different photo labs before deciding to work with Richard Photo Lab. I immediately fell back in love with the process and I saved so much time on editing; it was absolutely worth it. Today with two kids and a thriving business I definitely think shooting with film is worth it to achieve both beautiful photographs and also so I can spend time where it’s important.

The best thing about shooting film is that it brought me back to capturing that look that I started with; I love the nostalgia of it, that unique style that stands out in a digital age.  My favorite film to shoot is (Kodak Professional) Portra 800.  Working with film for me is not just an art style, but an experience; you don’t get to see what you’re creating -you have to really know your craft.  I have to think through each shot, making sure everything is beautifully composed and being mindful about what’s within the frame. Each shot is time and money, and I find that taking that deliberate process for composing each shot creates a very distinct and special product for the client.

Film produces a distinct quality of photographs that is difficult to duplicate. I had come to appreciate this look when I learned how to develop film in college, but when I started my photography business I thought going completely digital would be following industry standard. However, in order to achieve the look of film, I spent copious hours editing my digital photographs during post-process. When my husband and I started a family, I realized this process was no longer sustainable if I wanted to have time to spend with them. I’d decided to switch to film in order to save time, but it also brought me close to an art form that I loved. Photographing with film is a special experience that has no parallel; it’s challenging and thrilling to work to create compelling photographs while working with the limits of film.