Fine Art Wedding Photography


Your wedding photographer is one of the most important vendors you will hire for your big day. Let's face it at the end of the day after everything is cleaned up and the guests have left, the only thing you will have to remember one of the most important days of your life are the images taken by your photographer. Picking a photographer can be a daunting task, there are many factors to consider. This is a topic all on it's own which we can cover on another day. Today we will discuss fine art wedding photography. Todays couples are now able to relive their special moments through timeless, beautiful images that look like pieces of art. Often these images are created using analog film techniques. Fine art weddding photographers often use analog cameras that have a unique look to them that just can't be replicated on digital. Today I'll discuss the benefits of fine art wedding film photography, the different film stocks available, and what to look for when choosing a fine art wedding photographer.

Bakery 105 Wilmington NC - Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 - Koadak Portra 400 rated at 320 ISO

What is Fine Art Wedding Film Photography?


Fine art wedding film photography is a style/genre of wedding photography that emphasizes the artistic qualities of the images. Fine art wedding photographers often use natural light, selective focus and shallow depth of field to create images that have a timeless quality. The soft pastel color palette and life like skin tones that are produced when using analog film have stood the test of time and one thing is certain, 20 years from now when you are looking back at your wedding images the realistic timeless look of these images will still look and feel just as elegant and refined as the day they were taken. With so many film stocks being discontinued and the price of film skyrocketing, it is becoming more common in this style of photography for the photographer to use digital cameras along with these analog cameras. The photographer will often edit their digital images to look as close to the analog images as possible. At the end of the day it's the photographers aim to capture the emotions and moments of a wedding day in a way that is both beautiful and timeless.

Bell Vue Wilmington NC - Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 - Ilford HP5 ISO 400

Ft Fisher NC - Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 - Iford Fp4+ rated at 100

Malachi Meadows near Wilmington NC - Mamiya 645 80mm f1.9 - Fuji Pro 400 H rated at 100 ISO

Why Should You Hire a Fine Art Wedding Photographer?



The type of photographer you choose is a personal choice, however I do believe there is a right choice for everyone. One thing that sets a fine art wedding photographer apart from others is the use of analog film. Not only does analog film have a look and timeless feel that can't be replicated using a digital cameras, it forces the photographer to be much more attentive and aware of what they are shooting. This is due to the limited number of exposures and the cost of film and processing. Unfortunately, the digital age has created a entire group of photographers that have spent very little time perfecting their craft. Cameras have become so advanced it allows some to just "spray and pray". This isn't true of all digital photographers, however there are unfortunately a huge number of them out there these days. The fine art wedding photographer has to pay close attention to all of the details, when it costs you $2 everytime you hit the shutter button you want to make sure that every shot is a keeper for the couple's album. Every shot is important to you, and every shot has to be diliberate and have careful thought put into it. These days I personally only shoot film for my personal work. I do this to make sure that I am consistently evolving and improving my analog technique so when I'm covering an event for a client, I'm confident that I can produce replicatable results.


Finally, shooting analog film can be a more intimate experience for the couple. Film cameras often require more time and attention to detail which can result in a more relaxed, intimate experience for the couple. This often leads to more natural and candid moments being captured in your images.

Bakery 105 Wilmington NC - Pentax 67 105 f2.4 - Kodak Portra 400 rated 1250 +2

Common Types of Film used for Fine Art Wedding Photography



There are several film stocks available that are commonly used by fine art wedding film photographers. Some of the most popular, and the ones I choose the most are:


  • Fuji Pro 400H: Fuji Pro 400H is a color negative film that used to be made by Fujifilm. It was discontinued in January 2021. At the time this was written it is still being sold by a couple of different vendors. Pro 400H is a high-speed film with an ISO rating of 400, This film is commonly rated at 200 ISO for wedding and portrait photography. Rating this film at 200 and exposing for the shadows is what gives this film its signature light and airy look. Pro 400H has a wide exposure latitude making it a versatile film choice for a variety of lighting conditions. It's known for its fine grain, high sharpness, and accurate skin color reproduction. Pro 400H has excellent contrast and saturation when processed normally, however it can also be pushed in processing which will increase this films contrast and saturation. This film paired with a Contax 645 is what gives fine art photographers like Jose Villa his signature look and the look that many photographers strive for still to this day.



  • Kodak Portra 400: Kodak Portra 400 is a color negative film produced by Eastman Kodak. This is the film stock most fine art photographers who were shooting Pro 400H are switching to as a result of Fuji's discontinuation of Pro 400H. Portra 400 has a cult following among many of todays young analog phootographers. Like Pro 400H it has a very wide exposure latitude. This film stock is often rated at 320 ISO by portrait and wedding photographers. This high-speed film can be over-exposed quite a bit while still retaining information in the highlights of the image. This makes Portra 400 a fantastic choice when exposing for the shadows during backlit shoots at sunset. Portra 400 is well-suited for use in a wide range of lighting conditions. It is known for its natural-looking color reproduction, accurate skin tones, and fine grain structure. Portra 400 can also be pushed in processing to create a more contrasty and saturated image that really pops.



  • Kodak Portra 800: Kodak Portra 800 is another color negative film produced by Eastman Kodak. It's a high-speed film with an ISO rating of 800, making it well-suited for use in low-light conditions. I typically rate Portra 800 one stop over at 400 ISO. It is known for its natural-looking color reproduction, accurate skin tones, and fine grain structure. Like Portra 400 it also has a wide exposure latitude that can handle highlights and shadows well, this makes it a popular choice for indoor and night time photography. This is my go to film for getting ready shots and indoor bridal portraits. The higher ISO allows me to use faster shutter speeds when shooting handheld in dimly lit rooms and reception venues.


  • Ilford Fp4+: Ilford FP4+ is a black and white negative film made by Ilford Photo. It has an ISO rating of 125, however I tend to shoot it at 100 and expose for the shadows. Fp4+ is a film I just recently started using. I've personally found it to be a great choice for outdoor portraits where there is a lot of available light. I personally process all my own black and white film, and my developer of choice with this film stock is currently Pyrocat HD. The detail, sharpness, and grain of this combination is in my personal opinon just on another level. It is a beautiful film that I look forward to using in many of my future weddings and portrait sessions. It produces a wide tonal range and excellent tonality, making it suitable for a variety of subject matter and lighting conditions. It is often used for architectural, landscape, and portrait photography for its ability to produce rich, detailed images with good contrast.



  • Ilford Hp5: Ilford HP5 has been my go to black and white negative film for a long time. It too is made by Ilford Photo. HP5 has an ISO rating of 400 but it is commonly pushed to 800, 1600, and I've even pushed it to 3200 and it has produced fantastic results. It is known for its fine grain structure and high sharpness. HP5 also produces a wide tonal range and excellent tonality, making it suitable for a variety of subject matter and lighting conditions, particularly in low-light situations. It is often used for action and sports photography, photojournalism, and street photography for its ability to produce sharp, detailed images with good contrast. HP5 is also popular for its versatility and ability to produce rich images in a wide range of lighting conditions.

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  • Ilford Delta 3200: Ilford Delta 3200 is a black and white negative film made by Ilford Photo. It has an ISO rating of 3200, however it is commonly rated at 1600 ISO or even lower. I've been rating it at 1600 and have been happy with the results. Delta 3200's higher ISO capability makes it a film suitable for use in low-light conditions. It is commonly used in dimly lit reception venues and is loved for it's high sharpness and tight grain structure. I just recently started using this film stock and have been very pleased with it's results. Moving forward it will be my go to black and white film stock for wedding receptions. Delta 3200 is also popular for its versatility and ability to produce rich images in challenging lighting environments.




Bakery 105 Wilmington NC - Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 - Ilford Hp5 rated 1600 +2

Ft Fisher NC - Contax 645 80mm f2 - Fuji Pro 400 H rated at 200 ISO

Holden Beach NC - Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 - Portra 800 rated at 400 ISO

Choosing a Fine Art Wedding Photographer



When choosing a fine art wedding photographer, there are several things to look for. First, you should look for a photographer who has experience in this genre of photography. Fine art wedding photography can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, some people may think it's a subjective term and advertise themselves as one when they're photography really falls into some other genre. Fine art wedding photography is not a subjective term, it is a genre on photography all on it's own. While the look of the images differ from one photographer to the next the basic principles stay the same. This leads me into my next point.


Look for a photographer who has a portfolio of fine art wedding images that you love. Ask them if you can see an entire wedding gallery, this will give you a better idea what they are going to deliver to you and the consistency of their work. Ask them if they shoot film. While shooting film isn't a requirement for fine art photography, it definitely gives you an idea of how much they have commited to this genre of photography. It will also give you an idea of how competent they really are as a photographer in general.


Finally, you should choose a photographer who you and your future partner feel comfortable with. Your wedding day is a special, intimate day, one of the most important days of your life. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the person who is capturing your memories.

Timber Hall Leicester NC - Yashica Mat 124 - Ilford Hp5 rated 1600 +2

I'll leave you with this...



Choosing a photographer these days can be a challenging task. Take your time and look at a lot of portfolios and ask questions. If I know one thing, it's I love photography, and I love talking about photography. I think you'll find most photographers out there feel the same. We want our ideal clients just as much as you want your ideal photographer. If your looking for a wedding photographer in the Wilmington. North Carolina area or beyond feel free to reach out. We'd be more than happy to help you!

Christmas - Contax 645 80mm f2 - Ilford Delta 3200 rated at 1600