How to Transition from Digital to Film

This is another post that I have been mulling over for a while. Mostly because I was worried that people would disagree with me. Here is the thing, I think there are a lot of different ways that you can transition from digital to film. I also believe that different personalities need to approach things in different ways. Am I telling you that this is how you should do it? No! Absolutely not. But I am telling you how I did it. Was it the most responsible way… maybe not…. I tend to tackle things with reckless abandon…. but this is what worked for me.

Invest in Your Education

This one is HUGE… was huge for me. I tried learning film on my own. aka… lots of trial, lots of error and a LOT of confusion. When I decided to invest in learning film and really take it seriously things started to click. There were numerous AH-HA moments and it finally started to fall into place. Here is what I say for investing…. choose your “mentors” wisely. There are a lot of people out there teaching on the subject and just like anything, they are mostly amazing photographers… but amazing photographer does not always equal an amazing teacher. Be sure that who you decide to learn from inspires you, that you truly feel you could learn from, and that they will possibly push you outside of what is comfortable for you. After all you cannot change without being stretched. I have done online workshops, in person workshops, conferences, mentorships and each one has pushed me, challenged me, inspired me, and shaped me as a photographer. I will continue to invest in my education as long as I can. And best of all….. its a business write off… winky face.

Workshops to check out:

Practice Via Personal Work

When I started learning film it started as a personal project. When I decided to take it more seriously I knew I needed to gain confidence…. which meant shooting lots, experimenting, challenging myself, failing, learning, and trying again. Experimenting and trying new things is great… but not when you are being paid to capture someone else’s family. So PRACTICE… at home. Practice on your dog, your kids, your spouse, the plants on your table…. I don’t care what it is, practice on personal work. Try new things, play with different lighting situations, play with different film stocks and ways of rating or metering… but do the experimenting on your personal work. When I started to see consistent results from my personal work, THAT is when I felt ready to shoot film for family sessions.

Schedule a Shoot

I did two sessions on my dime before I took on a paid gig shooting film. People call these portfolio building sessions… I call it “lets see if I can handle this”. I planned a couple of shoots with families that I was close to and inspired by. I approached them about letting me capture them on film. I explained that I would do it for them for free, they could have the images, I would pay for the film costs. There are a lot of people that might disagree with this approach but here is why I did it. This was the ultimate test for me. Could I logistically get through a full family session by myself using film AND would I get the consistent results that I have been getting in my personal work now in my “professional” work? (why would results change? I don’t know, but I have found that many people making the transition fear that it won’t translate). Choosing to do these sessions without payment took the pressure off. Was I nervous, totally. Was it torture waiting for the scans to come back, absolutely. But when they did I was so happy to find that its not as scary as I had made it. And I knew I would be ready to make the switch for my professional work

Leave Your Digital at Home

GASP! WHAT?! Yeah I said it. Leave it at home. You don’t need that anymore. Ok ok…. this is where people are most definitely going to disagree with me. Again….. This is what worked for me. I’m not saying this is THE only way to do it. Different personalities will approach this different and whatever works for you…. works for you. Here is what I did… and why I did it. Some people choose to slowly phase film into their sessions shooting a few rolls alongside digital, then a few more the next time etc until they are completely film. Others love shooting hybrid and will continue to balance both digital and film during a session….. THAT DOES NOT WORK FOR ME.  Couple of reasons this doesn’t work for me. I will admit it. I have a hard time matching film and digital. I don’t want to pull my hair out sitting in front of my computer trying to get my digital to look remotely as good as my film (disclaimer: There are great presets out there…. I just hate editing). Another reason I couldn’t shoot digital along side my film was because I had a hard time balancing the two mediums at the same time. For me and my brain, it had to be one or the other. Switching between the two made me feel frantic and frazzled and very much not in the moment. So for me… the digital had to be left behind. If I had it in the bag, I would grab for it. If it were in the car, I would run for it. If it was at home… I didn’t have a choice. Digital was my security blanket…. I needed to leave it at home. Now that I have been shooting families on film… my digital now makes me a little uncomfortable (but that is probably for a later post). Do what makes sense to you, but for me… I had to dive in head first without looking back.

Trust Yourself

Here is the thing guys, if you have been shooting for a while your eye is probably great. If you have been practicing, your exposures should be consistent. If you have been practicing, your images should be in focus. And last, If you have been practice by chasing around your own kids or someone else’s you should be confident in your timing when you hit the shutter. If you are finding that you have those things under control there is no reason your professional work will look like doodoo. If you have put in the work, and you are truly ready, then go for it, and be confident  in that decision. I love nothing more than to encourage people. I love giving pep talks and motivating people to take the plunge. The athlete and coach in me, loves to see people push themselves, challenge themselves, try something that scares them, and then come out on the other side so psyched that they did it. Sometimes you just gotta trust yourself…. and jump.

Well, friends, as they say “thats a wrap”. I feel like I could go on and on about this subject for days but I will leave it where it is. If you are here looking for encouragement, you can do it. If you are here and feel that hybrid is the best route for you, I say go for it. In the end you gotta do what works for you. Last I want to hear from you. Which of these are you going to work on to help you make that transition? Which one was most impactful to you when you made the switch? Was there something you did that I didn’t? What worked for you?

Want more of this encouragement, insider secrets, and other goodies?

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