It’s no secret that I love film. I grew up learning photography on film cameras and I will always feel that film holds a quality that digital can never perfectly match. At this point you might be wondering “why not just shoot film then?” Excellent question. Film is expensive. I brought my trusty 35mm Minolta on our honeymoon and shot a total of 7 rolls of film and it was $80 to process and have them scanned to discs (plus the cost of purchasing film to begin with). That’s for roughly 168 photos. So to shoot an entire wedding (and this is just 35mm, medium format goes up in price) and have them processed and scanned it would be nearly $400 extra! For someone starting out in this business it’s just not practical – for me or my brides.
Thankfully there is a pretty darn good solution out there. Visual Supply Co. has a package of presets for Lightroom that are specifically designed to emulate film. The perfectionist in me has spent hours tirelessly trying to find a good post-process that appropriately embodies the feelings that I am trying to convey with my photos without spending a ton of money on preset packages. This is an exhausting process, especially when starting from scratch. The presets from VSCO are fantastic and provide a wonderful starting point for me. I highly recommend them.
I’ll share with you the test photo I used, demonstrating some of the presets. I didn’t demonstrate ALL of them because there are so many, but the website is certainly more comprehensive. Shawn, being a good husband, graciously volunteered to be in my test photo.
Ok, not so much volunteered…more like begrudgingly obeyed. But I digress.
First, the image straight off of the camera:
Then, some of the color film presets:
And then the black & white options (these have wonderful grain):
As you can see, the differences are pretty subtle, but that’s what I like – that they are clean and simple edits. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the 32743892763280174389120 edit options that exist between Lightroom and Photoshop that you can end up with a picture that is so far from the original you’re not even sure what you’re looking at anymore. I’ve also talked to photographers that feel like they NEED to edit their photos a bunch in order for it to really feel like an art form. I realize that I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, but I think there is more art in the composure of a picture and trying to instill a certain feeling or mood in your viewer, than in any heavy editing.
Getting back to the presets, there is also a toolkit that comes in the package that allows you to make some minor adjustments to things like skin tone, vignetting, grain, fill light, etc. It really is a wonderful product and, as always with Lightroom stuff, you can tweak and adjust these presets to your heart’s desire. I really believe they are the closest thing to film you can get without using film!