Film as a point of "competitive advantage"?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by omaha, May 28, 2014.

  1. omaha

    omaha Member

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    I'm curious...

    I'm thinking about adding a "product line" of real, film portraits.

    Are there any photographers here that have done that? I'm curious how that has been received. Are their clients for whom the idea of a portrait shot on "real film" is taken as a point of differentiation?

    If I do this, I'd present it as a premium option. The message would be something like "Any hack can take a picture on digital, but the most discerning clients demand film", or something like that.

    Anyway, anyone here doing something like that, or know of someone doing something like that?
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I can see the point of using film as a personal preference, but there it ends as the viewer of the final image probably doesn't care or can't tell the difference. The end result is more important than the medium.
     
  3. omaha

    omaha Member

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    But if that were how consumers behaved, there would be no need for (for example) "organic" vegetables. :smile:

    I suppose the question comes down to whether or not people will prefer (and pay a premium for) an option if it is presented as more "authentic".
     
  4. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Interesting idea

    Some people love the "film look" but I guess the problem is -- WHAT IS the film look? If I were to undertake such a venture I would probably go for something that shot 120 film and would use a film that is kinda, sorta like Panatomic-X.
    I remember environmental portraits I did in the 1950s with my trusty Rolleiflex and Panatomic-X and they blew folks' socks off. They almost looked like 3-d. Chevy tarts up a car and calls it a Cadillac. You can do the same thing -- have a high priced option for the dude who only wants to buy the highest price item. That sounds a bit cynical but that's (show) biz.
     
  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    You can do it with prints that are not possible with digital - like Bromoil, Lith, Liquid Emulsion ... Also with FB prints - just let them touch and hold the print in hand.

    I know a guy who sells photos to the tourists in Croatia - he always makes simple test to buyers: FB print, and inject print - and asks "which one you would like?". Answer was always the same. You know the answer.
     
  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Yes, I suppose you are correct and my initial reply was rather flippant. There is a difference between the original and scanned and digital copies. In the same way there is a difference between an original painting and prints from the original. I apologise for my previous rather crass remarks.
     
  7. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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  8. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I think it may be a good idea, done right. Black and white photos done with film and printed on real silver paper.
    I'd stress the positive about the process, like film is a more far more permanent base than digital....and it is!
     
  9. gzinsel

    gzinsel Member

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    cliveh, you should not apologize, there is an once of truth, there. If the producer(artist) can build value to the client AND the client can appreciate "this thing" then they will spend the money provided they have the money. Three things there: 1. many producers( photographers) CAN NOT build value, can not communicate with the client as to its "real value". 2. Many clients are "out to lunch", and 3. Many clients do not wish to pay. BUT sometimes the stars align AND you get that client, you show them, you "wow" them, and, and, and THEY BUY!!!! we all go home happy, Take the family out to dinner!!! so in short YES diffidently show FB, or something hand made, I.e Platinum. salt, Kallitype, carbon, etc. . . Not all folks will bite but some will.....
     
  10. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Nothing to apologize for! I agree completely with your assessment: The hard but true facts of life are that digital portraits are easier and, for the most part, are just as good in the eyes of 99% of consumers. Better, actually. People like it when I shoot tethered and they can see things immediately.

    But I do think (or hope) that there is a market for "real film" portraits. I'm thinking the prototype client is one that is (a) somewhat fashionable and (b) interested in leading a trend and (c) has money and (d) wants to stand out. The cardiologist's wife that wants to show her friends their new family portrait and have something to brag about. That sort of thing. I think if its positioned properly, the idea that a portrait was shot on film could be a powerful advantage. If nothing else, I can tell you from my limited experience doing this that people are quite impressed by the sight of my RB-67. Compared to the cookie-cutter DSLR's everyone else is using, the RB looks like a proper camera.


    Excellent. Thank you for the references.
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    It's not so much about what you do and what with, but the quality and calibre of how you do it, film or digital — it's irrelevant; the work must be up there with the very best, or be better than it. But how? Does producing an image in a darkroom actually make it better or more attractive than an equivalent image digitally produced? Film might be seen as long-lived, romantic and hanging in there as an artistic product, but the speed and penetration of digital, especially the quality of high-end printing and automation, has assured ongoing careers for photographers who know their work, how to work and how to reach out and get it sold.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I suppose I was thinking of my Van Dyke browns that take me hours to make, but high resolution scans and inkjets made from these, in some respects look better and are much cheaper to reproduce.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2014
  13. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    I find that people in general are drawn to film photography, even if they are not photo savvy. Often they like the high contrast stuff, though, even if it kills the tones. Perhaps something to keep in mind?
     
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  15. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Blah. Not going to work unless it's real special.
    Tintype portrait comes to mind. That's another galaxy. But using tri-x and merely printing it is not special enough. And if you're not a very good printer, the quality will be less then digital.

    Youtube "The Science of Tintype Photography". The guy charges only 60$ for an amazing tintype portrait. Cheap and exclusive. That's the way to go.
     
  16. Maris

    Maris Member

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    A digital portrait is like a painted portrait in that the content can be processed to whatever end point is desired. The paying portrait sitter can demand (and should demand?) that the digital or painted portrait depicts them how they want to be seen. The downside of such pictures is that nobody except the terminally naive "believes" paintings and that same disbelief is absolutely justified in the case of digital work. One wonders, when looking at a painted or digital portrait, what the person depicted really looked like.

    When Edward Weston announced that he would no longer make retouched photographic (not painted, not digital) portraits he look a large financial risk in limiting his clients to those who were prepared to show their faces as they were. For this I admire Ed Weston; and his sitters too.
     
  17. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I remember reading, a few years back, about a high-buck "celebrity" wedding photographer who made a point of using film. But that was 3-4 years ago and don't know what the situation is now.

    You might be able to carve out a niche, but I think it would be difficult. For one thing, I think people now expect the over saturated, high contrast digital look. In any case, best to highlight the advantages of film rather than denigrate digital.

    I made a point of recommending to my son and future DIL that they get a film-based photographer for their wedding about 8 years ago. I appreciate the results, but not sure they do.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    +1
     
  19. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    My brother got married before digital was used much in weddings, and he is not into photography. However, at his wedding he made sure the photographer also took some black and white photos. So I do think you could offer film as an adjunct and make it work. Maybe not everyone would want it, but I'd think some would.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If your target market is people who post on APUG, you will have a definite advantage.

    If the quality of presentation you are able to obtain from film (and other steps in the process) is extra-ordinary, than you may very well have something that really sells.

    Otherwise, I'd say the answer is related directly to the quality of your professional lab.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Focus your market: rich hipsters.
     
  22. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    Yea I have similar thoughts. Most people these days would not know the difference between a digital born print and and analog born print unless you take the time to point them out. Because of this it is unlikely that will see any added value.

    However with something like tintype you have to do the whole process in about 15 minutes this gives you the opportunity to let the customer observe the process. Beating able to see the process and walk out with a one of a kind image would definitely be added value.
     
  23. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    I am not sure that people would want tintypes for their wedding photos. They look nice but they have an antiquated, gritty look which might not be suitable to happy occasions.

    I would suggest going for colour film mainly. The reason is that it is harder to emulate digitally than B&W. Most customers would not see the difference betwen a dgital shot processed well i Silver Efex and the real thing.

    But with colour film you could give them a unique look which they couldn't have with digital. Presumably, it would be more expensive though due to the extra work, but if you use really good portfolio samples, I am sure people would go fo it.
     
  24. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    There is digital, there is film, and there is other film. The late Lou Charno of Kansas City used a tri-color camera to make dye transfer portraits of discerning (and well-heeled) clients.
     
  25. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I don't think the general public are that discerning anymore than they are worried by what what brand of flash gun you use, I agree with cliveh, they are only interested in the results not how they are achieved.
     
  26. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    No you would just mainly use it for portraits.