Pro photgrapher's still use film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ToddB, Feb 5, 2013.

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  1. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Hey guys,

    I was thinking of offering a little on-side service starting this spring and summer. I'm planning to use my Rollei's to shoot with. I'm not going to shoot weddings or anything, something more on a smaller scale. Anyway.. I was wondering if Pro photographer still use film to shoot paying jobs? I searched the internet, and it seems that all the small time photographers shoot digital. Do we have any commercial shooter that use film here? I thought it would be something different and unique to offer the public.

    ToddB
     
  2. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    The question is, will anyone notice? There may be a very select group of people who will care to know the technical nuts and bolts, but it's not many.

    For years in our portrait studio, we sold three different types of prints and charged three different prices. Ultimately, I decided we were confusing people and also hurting sales by asking them to make too many decisions. Now, the only thing that has a higher price is canvas prints, which has a very specific audience, which is people who know they want a classical portrait of a child and know they want it on canvas. Otherwise, no other clients see that price list.

    Just because it's shot on film does not make it unique and therefore worthy of investment. What makes it unique and worthy of investment is your mind and your creativity.
     
  3. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Why no weddings? Jonathan Canlas does a great job with weddings using a film camera. I particularly like what he did with the African American wedding. The skin tones are great. The bulk of the guy's work is just straight forward well exposed and composed film pictures with no gimmicks.

    Check out what he did with Portra 400 pushed to 3200.

    Given the expense of film and the fact that clients are now getting used to quantity not quality with digital you will have to market your self appropriately and disclose to them they won't be getting hundreds of shots. I think the sophisticated premium market you would have to go after would not be the type of thing small time photographers would generally spend their time on. I personally have encouraged small time photographers to consider offering film to certain clients.
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm still shooting film for product, particularly food. Most of my art directors like the look of a large format transparency better than the alternatives. But you gotta have the skillz. It's ME shooting film they want, not film by itself.
     
  5. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    I personally have encouraged small time photographers to consider offering film to certain clients.

    This what I'm going for. Offering my experiance with superior image quality that Rollei can provide, also keeping affordable. It seems with digital, everyone wants a "good enough" approch.
     
  6. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I think this is a great idea, and a great attitude. The "look" of film is great, but many won't tell the difference. I think the difference is is the marketability of the permanent nature of film/negatives, and the feeling that they're getting a certain amount of quality, and not just quantity. That's not say that quality cannot be shot on digital of course, but it's perhaps easier to market the idea of film as "prestige".
     
  7. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Thats the wife was thinking when I pitched her the idea. I shot a pic of me and the family with self timer with my T model last fall. It turned out fantastic and it had a dirrent look to it. The color, the apature fall off behind us. I think people would be very excited to something like this.
     
  8. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    +1, they want my image firstly, they know I love to shoot film so the result will show the love.
     
  9. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Couldn't said it better. Thats it. There has to be some value that makes us film shooters unique and different.

    ToddB
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Basically, you have to be very good - and you have to find customers who can percieve (and pay for) this. I made money with cameras from the late 80's to the late 90's; I was charging $75 1990 dollars per hour, plus materials for product photography - that was about the going rate in this area.
    Today, I doubt I could come close to that, even without adjusting for inflation. The last work I did was weddings, the fellow I worked for provided cameras, film, and $40/hr.
     
  11. jglass

    jglass Subscriber

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    There are still many pros using film, esp. in larger formats. For wedding and portrait, check out Inside Analog Photo Radio for a very long series of interviews with wedding and portrait photogs who use film, including Jonathon Canlas. One guy shoots Super 8 B & W movies for weddings. One guy uses a Leica and Tri-x almost exclusively. Just a matter of finding clients who like the look. Inside Analog may be a sponsor here, not sure.

    As others have said, it's not enough to make your work good -- which really goes without saying -- and there are LOTS and LOTS of clients who just couldn't care less but others like the look and/or the notion of something unique.
     
  12. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Not everyone wants a good enough approach. Many people will pay for unique photography, but you have to look good and hard look at your work and ask yourself what differentiates it from anyone else who is making portraits, shooting weddings, food, etc. regardless of film or digital.

    For example, there is a super expensive "on location, available light" photographer here in Atlanta and her work is indistinguishable from all of the $100 shoot and burn "on location, available light" photographers. As far as I can tell, she isn't working much. They all have the exact same style (flare, bad 70s Lightroom filters), so why would the average person pay more for the same product?

    And if you are shooting film, the last thing you need to be worried about is keeping it affordable, unless you want to work your ass off and never have anything to show for it. :blink: I can promise you there wouldn't be a dime of profit in a film based 8x10 that costs less than $300. Sit down and calculate your cost of sales, all the time it will take to process, proof, develop and print, plus handle all the client calls, emails, sales meetings, session time, etc. It would be very challenging to keep it affordable. You're far better off serving fewer clients at much higher prices.
     
  13. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    It seems that the industry has been cheaped with introduction of digital. No.. I'm not going to start slamming digital. I have a point and shoot digital that shoot with for fun stuff that I want to capture. For the stuff that i think that has value, I shoot MF. My investment in my gear and and darkroom is hundreds of dollars less that what I could get for high end DSLR. So if it doesn't work out, I'll shoot for my own enjoyment, and and go down another path of photography than our society has taken. I was shooting in a local area last weekend and come upon a art show that a guy was making guitars out of cigar boxes, beautiful BTW. I was approuched by several people in regards to "What a beautiful Camera". I was happy to answer any questions. One guy commented to the effect of "Your going back to the ART of photography". I was replied.."Absolutly". So going back to film users.. I think that is my motivation. Going back to the art of photography. Getting back to the grass roots of the art. I think most of members hear feel the same way. There is something lost with shooting with a digital camera.

    ToddB
     
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  15. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Use film like David Bailey used Jean Shrimpton.

    The client is always wrong.
     
  16. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Here is a guy that's doing platinum portraits in the UK: Ciaran Lee. I think he's packaged it beautifully. That would be a great model to follow.
     
  17. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    IMO the market segment is a big factor. For instance, when working with agency art directors there is an ongoing relationship, and usually a more sophisticated understanding of how something "looks" and how that can be arrived at. I think dealing with a more competitive market with less sophisticated clients would be more difficult.
     
  18. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    If I can get a little returm from investment , I'll be happy. It's not like I need it to cover my mortgage. I figured there so many un- experiance digital shoots shooters out there with fancy brand new digital cameras,and semister of Photoshop elements from the local community college why not pitch an idea for something different.

    Todd
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    its all about your client base. some won't care what it is shot on, some will.
    for years i have had clients that only wanted film and paper. they wanted portraits
    they wanted archival site work &c ... now, at least where i am located, fewer really know or care
    about the differences, and the archives and government agencies that used to be film + paper only
    don't want it anymore .... go figure ...

    you have to find your audience and market to them the fact that you can give them something no one else is selling ...
    sometimes it will sell itself ..
    on a side note, i bid on a job a few weeks ago and archival 35mm film and 5x7 enlargements on fiber paper
    cost LESS in the end than files and pigment prints ...
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I would only consider using film for professional work if you have reliable, pro quality lab services available to you.

    And if you do, that is an excellent way to run a business.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes. This will be absolutely essential, unless you are prepared to do it yourself.
     
  22. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    You may not feed your family on your photography, but some of us do. I don't know how good your work is or isn't, but undercharging for it is a sure way to contribute to the decline of professional photographers. Digital has been far less detrimental to the trade than the mindset of talented photographers who are willing to work for peanuts.

    Sorry, don't mean to be rude, but if you're going to work your butt off for someone and hand print beautiful portraits of their family, why the hell wouldn't you charge good money for that? Stick it in the college fund, or buy a new boat if you don't need it to pay the mortgage.

    The other problem is that when you don't feel properly compensated, you begin to resent your clients. You're spending hours and hours of your life working for someone. Everybody else in the world gets paid when they do that. Why is it photographers have so little faith in themselves?

    Simple exercise: keep a work sheet, and write down every single minute you are working for someone, every mile you drive and every expense you incur (film, paper, chemistry). At the end of the job, do the math and figure out your rate per hour. There are plenty of photographers who are making less than they could make at McDonald's, but hey, they are artists, and you know, artists are supposed to starve... :sad:
     
  23. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    I think a lot depends on what you are shooting and for who - if I hired a photographer to shoot a supermodel at $10k a day (plus expenses) for a campaign in a magazine, you can believe I would attend the shoot and make sure they got a shot I could use. This would necessitate the use of a digital camera for instant feedback and to prevent a second day of shooting. If, on the other hand, I needed to make copies of an artist's painting which is available as required and the primary concern was reproducibility and colour accuracy to the original artwork, I would probably want a 4x5 or 8x10 transparency. The bigger problem is demand - as in, most clients want the photos this afternoon or at the latest tomorrow which would be impossible for most film photographers, even with a good lab.

    Fundamentally, the client needs to trust the photographer to produce the images they want for the price they agree on. I want my clients to understand that they are going to get less images and it is going to take more time than other photographers but the quality of those images is going to be better. Not because they are from film but because the medium I am most comfortable getting the better results from is film. If they want someone quicker or cheaper, there are other people than me - but I don't make my living from photographs, so it is easier for me to say this.
     
  24. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    but if you're going to work your butt off for someone and hand print beautiful portraits of their family, why the hell wouldn't you charge good money for that?

    I learned along time ago to never under sell my photos. So this won't happen. I'll make it worth my time.

    Todd
     
  25. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Mmm, you might want to re-read what Jason wrote above. I am not so sure how much of a market you are going to find given this statement...
     
  26. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    This is true. We are dealing again with "A Good Enough" society. Lets see what happens. Like anything with providing a service. Word of mouth is the best business card. It will either dye a in flaming glory or take off like a wild fire.

    Todd
     
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