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Hybrid Photography | Why I Shoot Film and What It Means to Be a Hybrid Photographer

Jul 6, 2017


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(A film image)

Most of the time when I tell people I “shoot film”, they think that means I create videos. What I’m really talking about though is film photography—old-timey negatives and all. Most people, who know anything about film, don’t understand why I would choose film as a medium when we live in such a digital world, so I wanted to explain why I shoot film, and what it means to be a hybrid photographer.

The term “hybrid photographer” (most-commonly) refers to someone who photographs using both film and digital mediums. (Sometimes when people use the term hybrid, they actually are referring to documenting using photography and videography, but for the most part it’s used when referring to documenting with photographs using both digital and film mediums.) The reason I love being a hybrid photographer is simple: I want to give my couples the best photographs I possibly can, and I’ve found that using both mediums together is the best way to do that.

(A digital image)

So, let’s talk a little about FILM! <3 In case you haven’t noticed, I have a deep love for film. The result of shooting in film is beautiful, timeless art. The colors and dynamic range are unbeatable. I currently shoot medium format film, which means I get 15 images per roll. I buy rolls of film before each session or wedding, and then afterward I send the exposed rolls to my film lab in Utah that develops the film and then scans, or digitizes, them. They email me the digital images from each roll, and then mail back my negatives. The entire process is pretty costly and a little time-consuming, but the results are so worth it. In a future post I’ll talk more about the differences in film and digital with more comparisons, but for now, here’s why I choose to shoot both mediums (and not just in all film, or all digital.)

Three reasons I choose to be a hybrid photographer:

1. Less Post-Processing

The least fun part of being a photographer (in my opinion) is editing weddings. Editing sessions isn’t bad at all, but sitting down to edit 1,000 photos is so daunting. With film, I don’t have to do as much editing. I send the film off to the lab, they handle the developing/scanning/editing, and send me back photos that are ready for the spotlight. I doubt I will ever shoot a wedding in all film, unless everything is outdoors during the daytime (see number 2), but shooting hybrid allows me to cut down on the images I have to edit (post-process).

(A film image)


This is probably the biggest reason for shooting BOTH mediums. Film is absolutely beautiful when there is light! Whether it’s the middle of the day, the morning, or at sunset, film will shine! The more light there is, the more beautiful a film photograph will be. While digital photography is also great when there is light, the results don’t compare to film. The way film retains details in the highlights of an image is so much better than digital. On the flip side, film sucks in the dark. Without light, film doesn’t really work. In the dark, is where digital shines. Digital cameras are seriously AMAZING in low-light. Where film retains details really well in the highlights of an image, digital shines because it retains detail in the blacks of an image. When the sun goes down, or in an area that’s very shady or dark, digital is the way to go!

(Film image in low-light (left) vs digital image in low-light (right))
I hope this answers at least a few questions you’ve had about film/hybrid photography, and why I love to shoot it! If you want to see some comparisons of digital & film photographs taken at the same session/time check out this post. Overall both mediums, in my opinion, are necessary to give my clients the experience I want them to have—above everything, I want my couples and families to walk away knowing they got the best experience possible, and the most beautiful photographs possible. (Which means choosing film any time I possibly can!)

Now tell me—do you think this one is a digital or a film image?!

My passion is in documenting the lives of our families well (mine and yours), and teaching you how to do it too. Follow along as I share photography tips, inspiration, and beautiful portraits.

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  1. Ayesha says:

    This blog post was really neat. My guess is digital, but I don’t know anything about photography. Nick and I still love looking at our engagement photos from you, and I keep telling him we have to make a trip back to the east coast for another session with you! Looking forward to learning more from your next posts!

    • karly says:

      You are right!! It’s digital. On the next post, I’m going to make it harder! Haha. You guys are too good at this!

  2. Mikayla says:

    You are so right about film shining in light! The details on your film images in this post are incredible! My guess with the last photo is digital..but that is simply a guess!

    • karly says:

      Thank you! Yes—wait until you see the post on the differences in digital & film. It’s going to be a good one! And you were right! It’s digital!

  3. Hannah Calamas says:

    I say digital!

  4. Whitney says:


  5. Tzedi says:

    I’m going to say film.

  6. […] film and which ones were probably taken with digital. In a previous post I talked about the reasons I love to shoot both mediums. They both have pros and cons, and that’s why I love to use them together—to get the best […]

  7. […] typical process for working with film on your wedding day. Confused about what film is? Check out this post. Wondering how it differs from digital photography? Check out this post. Still have other […]

  8. […] talk about shooting film a lot here on my website and on Instagram because I love it so much, and I know most people […]

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