Canadian Commercial Fashion Photographer


3 Things I Learned from Shooting with Film


There seem to be two camps of photographers these days: Analog and digital. And, if you ask which one I belong to, I would have to say mostly digital.. with a curiosity in film. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love film, but working as a professional photographer in the day and age where everyone needs their images ‘yesterday’, makes working with digital cameras the only way to cut down on costs and deliver the end product much faster.

I recently had the urge to start experimenting with film again. Sometimes it’s nice to focus on finding good lighting, proper composition, and allowing yourself to experiment. As a photographer, my goal is to bring my own style to the project while capturing the clients vision. I find at times I really need to shoot for me, and this helps me remember why I am a photographer. By doing this, I can remain inspired and fresh, and come back to my clients with a clear perspective.

Film Camera

My choice of camera was the Canon AE-1. It’s a great 35mm film camera that was very popular back in the 80s. They were so popular, that I’m positive someone in your family has one if you’re interested!


I picked up two rolls of film from Don’s Photo. - Illford 3000 BW, and Portra 800.

As an aside, it’s been so long since I used the camera I had to revisit some tutorials on how to properly load film, and work the settings. Here’s a link in case you’re also needing some refreshing (click here).

  1. Be patient

    Obviously the beauty of working with digital cameras, is the ability to take an unlimited number of images and to view them instantly. But with film, that luxury is taken away and we have to shoot with a little more discretion.

    When I was experimenting with my 35mm camera, I made sure that what I chose to shoot was just as I want it. In the case of photographing S.J. and Jordan in a dark recording studio, it was a matter of timing, enough lighting, and that the emotion was there. There were times I waited minutes to snap the photo because I was waiting for just the right moment.

    Take your time. It’ll be worth it in the end.

  2. beauty in imperfection

    When I take photos on my digital camera, I often try and get perfection. Even if perfection isn’t possible, I try my best to attain the best quality, and sharpness. My goals completely change when working with film. That’s not to say that I think it’s okay to have every image out of focus, but that it’s okay to allow the imperfection of soft focus to create art and beauty. Some of the images I took that were out of focus or not composed according to the rule of thirds were my favourite! As a photographer, we are storytellers, and you want to make sure that you capture emotion first.

  3. Don’t be afraid to shoot it

    If you see it, and you think it would be a cool picture.. shoot it!

    Just like Wayne Gretzky says, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So why not take them!

    Yes… film is expensive. But don’t allow that to be the reason you don’t snap. You’re experimenting, and learning from every time you click the shutter. Take a variety of different shots, and don’t spend too long on one thing. There were a few shots I almost didn’t because I thought they might not be exactly what I was envisioning. Now in the end, some of those were really unique and interesting and I’m glad I took them.

Grab the camera, look around, and feel inspired.

Now if this has inspired you to reach into the closet or under your bed for a film camera. Please share the results! I’d love to see them!