Yorkshire Wedding Photographer shooting medium format film
Medium Format Film Wedding Photography
With 2020 unfortunately being a complete write off so far due to Coronavirus, I thought I’d take a moment to curate my Medium Format film images from 2019. But I’d also like to explain why Medium Format matters for your wedding.
But don’t just take my word for it, there’s a reason why some of the absolute best wedding photographers in the world shoot Medium Format film:
Let’s start with size, shall we: because the negative (sensor) is bigger than 35mm Full Frame cameras – the cameras that are most commonly used at weddings – the image from a Medium Format camera looks 3-D like. It’s what photographers’ refer to as: the Medium Format Look.
There’s a reason why Commercial Fashion photographers still use Medium Format cameras – all-be-it in the digital form. But even the most expensive digital Medium Format cameras cannot touch the ‘resolution’ or image quality of film. Film is simply a bigger surface area.
Let’s talk about that ‘look’ a little more. This is primarily to do with the FILM used but the colour rendition is unmatched. The look of film is not ‘real life’, it’s enhanced. Quite often the colours have a pastel quality; the images themselves have a painterly look.
This is because the light from your wedding day is burnt onto the film negative creating your image. Your photographs ARE your wedding. Digital cameras simply recreate; they are cold and efficient. There is no MAGIC, no personality, no LIFE.
There is a reason why fashion photographers either become experts in Photoshop skin retouching or employ a professional retoucher. Digital cameras see everything. The human eye is selective. When you look at a person you don’t see every single detail, every blemish or pour. But the digital camera does. Film sees a face much closer to how we view people. There’s a softness to skin from a Medium Format film camera – a smoothing out. Film is tremendously flattering without creating a plastic look.
When paired with bright natural light film comes into a league of its own. The images below are all shot in the Northern British summer, meaning that even at the best of times we are not getting constant beautiful South California light. The selection below range from harsh afternoon sun, to soft morning light, to the warm evening glow of sunset. At each stage the film captures distinct colours, producing ethereal images. For example, pay close attention to the background green shrubbery – notice how the texture of the images almost looks like an oil painting. There is no compromise between texture and light – the medium format camera can capture both at the same time.
This truly sets it apart. If you’re getting married anywhere near nature, Fuji 400H shot on a medium format camera is an absolute must.
Some of the greatest lenses ever made belong to Medium Format cameras. It doesn’t matter what camera a professional photographer uses, it is the lenses that truly make the difference. The glass makes the image, the camera simply records it. My favourite lens by an absolute country mile is my Planar 80mm f/2 for the Contax 645. It’s in a class of its own. 99% of the images in this blog were taken on that combination. The remaining 1% were with an equally historic combination of a Hasselblad 500c/m and a Planar 80mm f/2.8 (those are the square black and white images).
Put simply, the photographer has to know what they’re doing. There is no ‘spray and pray’ approach to shooting film with a medium format camera. One roll of 120 film will either give 8, 12, or 16 shots depending on the format of the camera. That means, quite simply, you have to have intention with every photograph. The photographer has to choose when to take a photograph because each shot matters. A broken clock can be correct twice a day; and a digital camera can literally take hundreds of images in minutes. Film photography requires skill, precision, and thought.
Shot on film, your wedding becomes ART. There is no replication, no infinite reproduction. Your photographs exist in the real world, not just on a Cloud. That image of the two of you exists physically. Your images have intentionality, meaning, honesty, physicality – they do not simply document, but now imbue meaning and relevance; they are a testament of your love for each other.
I’ll leave you with one final image, it’s actually 35mm film but I love it and would hate not to include it, of why a wedding shot on film is art.