I have something a little different from normal to share today. A while back I got it into my head that it would be a fun and uniquely challenging experience to shoot a wedding exclusively in black and white film. Film is something I’m still very new to though and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of doing this as a primary for someones wedding. The obvious solution was to see if I could second shoot for someone. The pressure would be significantly less to deliver as I worked outside my digital comfort zone, and I suspected that the B&W film aesthetic would complement the primaries coverage nicely. I approached Daniel Dunlap with the idea and he was trusting and gracious enough to have me out for Daniel & Katherine’s wedding at the West End Architectural Salvage building in Des Moines, IA.
Before I jump into the images I know a reasonable question you might have is “why film?” or “why not just convert your digital files to black and white?”. This project certainly had expenses that wouldn’t exist had I shot on my DSLR’s and made digital B&W conversions. There were a couple of different payoffs I was hoping for out of the experience to make it worth my while.
First, clearly the process for shooting film is a lot different than digital. I was curious whether being restricted on the number of frames I had to work with and the lack of immediate feedback (no LCD) would help me slow my approach and be more measured in my shooting. Could I cover a wedding day with a restricted number of rolls of film, 36 frames at a time? Would any of that change in shooting style carry over to my digital work and make me a more intentioned photographer?
Next, I suspected that the results I would get in terms of image tonality and grain aesthetic would be different than I can easily achieve with digital conversions. It’s easy to spend a ton of time tweaking digital B&W conversions to get the effect you want. I have VSCO presets to emulate B&W film (and I love their Tri-x conversion) but there’s aspects of the conversions that don’t quite match real film.
Which leads me to authenticity. I love black and white images, however I somewhat dislike the process of choosing which images to convert. I’ve seen the image in color and it’s sometimes easy to second guess the conversion. “Should I have delivered that in color instead? I prefer it in black and white but maybe the client won’t?” There’s none of that ambiguity with the following images. They were all captured on a genuinely black and white medium, intended from the outset to be presented this way.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun making these. I hope I get to do this again.
Bronica ETRsi w/ 75 2.8 | Ilford Hp5
Canon Elan 7e w/ 35 1.4, 50 1.4, 70-200 2.8 | Kodak Tri-x, Fuji Neopan 400 (both +1-2 stops)