PAUL F. GERO - The Wedding Photojournalist Association
Recently there is no topic that creates as much impassioned conversation
when it is discussed among photographers. As a photographer who
has used film for over twenty years and digital for the last
six years, I would have to say that, at the time of this writing,
its just about a dead heat.
At least fairly recently (the last two years and especially
this past year), film did surpass the quality of digital capture,
in my opinion. Film does still handle certain situations better
than does digital, but for all practical purposes; they will
both produce professional results IN THE HANDS OF A PROFESSIONAL.
Some of these professionals are 100 % digital (i.e. David
Beckstead or Denis Reggie) while others still prefer film only
or a combination of the two. (I still like to shoot a little
3200 Kodak Tmax for the look it gives).
Digital, though, is revolutionizing the photographic industry
in a way that has been nothing short of astounding. It is here
in the present and will be down the road. And like computers,
it will only get better, faster and cheaper (at least the cost
of the tools).
When researching a photographer who shoots digitally it is
important to discern if that photographer is relatively new
to the technology or has been using it for a longer period
of time (and thus should have the bugs worked out).
Examine photographs made by the photographer using digital
capture. Most likely, that photographer will have work that
was also captured with film. Compare them and see if you can
tell the difference.
When I discuss digital vs. film with prospective couples these
days, I find much less resistance than I did a year ago. Couples
are usually pretty technologically savvy and often follow the
developments in our industry, at least on the periphery.
Any opposition some might have to digital goes away when I
show them images that are captured on digital (on a Canon 1d
- 4.1 megapixel chip camera) that are quite large (14 x 22
full bleed in an 11 x 14 inch album).
They also see many images that have been captured on film,
though scanned. Some folks are able to notice the differences,
but most really dont care.
What they care about are the images and the feelings that
they capture and evoke. Thats really what it comes down
to and the main reason we are hired.
Digital does, though, offer several advantages to the photographers
1) The ability to see the image right away. This is my favorite
reason for using digital capture. It gives me a level of comfort
because I can see if my lighting, expression, exposure, etc.
are correct right away rather than wait to see the film back
from the lab in a few days.
2) The ability to change the ISO (or the equivalent of film
speed) on the fly. This allows the photographer to go in and
out of a myriad of lighting situations without having to suddenly
change film to match the light levels from place to place at
3) A virtually unlimited number of photographs can be captured
at an event. This can be the boon and the bane of the photographers
existence, though, because if you shoot them, you've got to
edit them. But it frees the photographer from thinking I can
only shoot 10, 12 or whatever number of rolls of film at this
event in order to keep it within budget.
4) The ability to make black and white and sepia toned photographs
from the digital capture. When one shoots digitally (unless
they are captured in a black and white only mode on the Fuji
S2) every photograph can become a black and white and/or sepia
image. Parents may want an image in color; the couple may want
to have it in black and white.
5) Digital workflow. Many photographers now offer what is
often called a magazine style (or flush mounted) album. Images
shot on film would have to be scanned in order to produce this
type of album. While it is totally doable, it adds time and
another step in the process. Digital capture eliminates the
scanning and often the time-spent dust spotting the scan made
from negatives. (Though I know of a very talented photographer
-- George Weir, who prefers film and has his images scanned
to disk to allow him to still post images online and then create
images for his lab. He has created a digital workflow without
using digital capture and is very pleased with the results).
6) Freedom to experiment. This is a corollary to reason one.
I will often shoot images that I would not even try with film
because I know I will be able to erase it if it doesnt
work and modify it because I'll be seeing the results immediately.
I was on a foreign trip last year and stuck in the bus on a
rainy day. I literally pointed the camera out the window and
just made some exposures just for the fun of it. And it was
fun! Some of those images were totally unexpected and I would
not have wasted film on it. But because I had the immediate
feedback I could see what was working, modify it as I shot
and make some different images.
Despite all the buzz about film vs. digital what it gets right
down to when selecting a photographer are the images and personality.
Do you like the feel and the style of the images that the
photographer shows? Do you LIKE the photographer? Do you trust
him or her? Do they exude confidence about the work they do
and the tools that they use? Do they have raving fans who will
share testimonials with you?
PAUL F. GERO - The Wedding Photojournalist Association
© 2003 The Wedding Photojournalist Association
The Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) consists of
professional photographers that document weddings and events
in a candid, natural way. We prefer to work in an unobtrusive
way capturing the real moments as they happen. Most of us have
developed our skills working for newspaper and/or magazine