What is Film Wedding Photography and Why Get It?

January 19, 2024

Film wedding photography showing a newlywed couple standing lovingly together in front of a rustic wooden backdrop with 'beautiful gardens' text on it.

You’ve probably seen “film wedding photography” on a couple of photographer’s sites and may be wondering, what does that actually mean? What is film photography and what’s the difference between that and digital? 

Well, as a wedding photographer myself who offers both, I’ve got the answer to all of your questions. So, before you decide what package is right for your wedding, let’s take a look at what the difference is between digital and film wedding photography, the different types of film and why film may be right for you! 

Digital vs Film Wedding Photography

Before we dive into the different types of film photography, let’s talk a bit about the difference between digital and film photos. Digital photography is what you are traditionally going to think of when you think of a wedding photographer. 

These are images that are taken with a camera and instantly show up on the screen to see right after you take them. Unless your wedding photographer only specializes in film photography, every base wedding photography package you see will most likely be with digital cameras. 

Now, there are a ton of benefits to using digital cameras. Since they are instant and you can immediately see the photos on the screen, your photographer has the ability to look at the photos and make any adjustment to their settings that they need to. 

On the other hand, with film photography, you have to wait for the photo to be developed before you even see the final result so there is not that opportunity to make those adjustments. 

When you think about film cameras, your mind probably goes right to the instant polaroid cameras that print out an image as soon as you take it. However, film photography goes further than that and there are a few different types of film cameras that serve different functions (more on that soon). 

But, for now, you can think of the difference between digital and film photography as this: digital photography is instant photos that allow for adjustments to setting on the spot, film photography is photos that need to be developed to see the final product. 

Digital Photos vs Film Photos

Instant Film vs 35mm Film 

So now that we’ve talked a bit about the difference between digital and film wedding photography, let’s look at the different types of film photography out there. In general, when you are seeing film packages from your wedding photography, you will probably either see “instant film” or “35mm” film. 

Instant film is going to be that Polaroid style photography that most likely comes to mind first. These are cameras that snap a photo and instantly print out an image on the spot. 

Just because a camera is an instant film camera, doesn’t mean you are going to immediately see the image. In fact, different types of instant cameras take different amounts of time to actually develop the pictures. 

For instance, Polaroid instant cameras normally take around 15 minutes to develop. Instax, another popular type of instant film camera, takes about 90 seconds. So, it’s important to know the differences so you know exactly what to expect. 

35mm film, on the other hand, is a much longer process. This is the film photography that is taken on the actual film strips and has to be sent to a photo lab and developed by hand before the final image is actually seen. Before professional photographers started regularly using digital cameras in the early 2000’s, cameras with 35mm film were the norm with wedding photography.

So, when you are looking for film photography for your wedding, be sure to do your research and find out what type you are going to get. If you want small souvenir-like photos, instant film may be better for you. If you don’t mind the wait, and are expecting a better quality photo, 35mm film is a great option (or you can get a combination of both)! 

Instant Film Photos vs 35mm Film Photos

Why Get Film Photography at Your Wedding 

Now you know the different types of film photography, but why should you get it at your wedding? If you are already getting digital photos, why would you want film wedding photos too? 

Well, film photography tells a different story than digital photography. Film photography has this mystery of the “unknown.” You don’t know what the photo looks like or how it is going to turn out until it is developed. 

This, in my experience, gives your photos a whole different layer of authenticity than you get with digital film. With film photos, the full story of your wedding gets told with a bonus added touch of nostalgia. 

Think about looking back at your grandparents’ wedding photos and how beautiful they were and how they made you feel and then imagine your own wedding portrayed like that. 

Digital cameras allow your photographer to capture the whole sea of things that happen at your wedding, but film cameras add in a sense of timelessness and an artistic touch that just can’t be matched. 

Now, while I love film photography and think that it add so much to your wedding gallery, it also isn’t for everyone. If you don’t want almost a vintage vibe to some of your photos or if you want to make sure each photo is perfect, film photos may not be right for you. 

Because you don’t see them until after, you almost have to give up control of making each and every photo perfect, which adds so much personality to them, but also may not be what you are looking for (which is totally okay!). 

Wedding Photography Packages with Film 

If you have made it to this point and are thinking “Yes! I want film photography at my wedding 100%,” then all you need to do is find the perfect wedding photography package that includes film photography. 

For the most part, film photography is going to be an optional service that you can add on to your wedding photographers package. And, each photographer may take different kinds of film photos. 

But, if you are looking for what a film photography package could look like, this is what I include in mine. Film photography is an additional option that you can add onto your wedding package. 

I love all types of film photography and think that they all have their own type of beauty so you do actually get instant, Polaroid, and 35mm film photography coverage for your wedding. 

This means that you can have some small keepsake photos from your amazing wedding, but you will also get fully developed 35mm film photos in your final gallery as well! 

Like I said, every photographer is going to have a different package and a different way of doing film photos so be sure to chat with them beforehand and make sure you are able to get all of the film wedding photography that you want. 

Final Thoughts on Film Photography 

Hopefully this helps you understand film wedding photography a bit more and helps you decide if you think it’s right for your wedding. Just like everything else, including it or not is really up to what you and your partner are looking for. 

If you are still looking for a photographer who can take digital and/or film wedding photography, I’d love to chat! You can head over here to take a look at my wedding photography packages or get in touch with me here to chat through what you and your partner are looking for on your big day!

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