6 tips for success with film photography
Image credit - Inga Seliverstova

A Beginners Guide to Shooting Film

Are you new to film photography and looking for a beginner's guide to get started? Be fully prepared for your first photography session with our in-depth blog post covering all the essentials.

Whether you're already comfortable shooting digital or just starting out with photography, this guide will help you learn the basics of film photography and help you start capturing beautiful, timeless images.

 

Learn about your camera

Film cameras are often more unique than their modern digital counterparts. Experimental features are more common, and design patterns were far less standardised in the days of high-competition in the analogue camera world.

Before embarking on your first expedition with your new camera, it is important to take the time to understand how to load and advance the film properly, adjust the aperture and shutter speed settings and understand whatever viewfinder indicators your camera provides.

If you have access to the cameras guide or manual it is recommended to read through it, even briefly, before using your camera for the first time. This will help prevent any avoidable damage to your precious images, and possibly even your camera. 

Get familiar with the exposure triangle

The aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together to determine the exposure of a photograph. Understanding how to adjust these settings will allow you to control the amount of light in your shots and create the desired effect.

If your camera doesn't offer exposure controls, it's important to understand how your camera achieves it's exposure. Most point and shoots offer fully automatic exposure, but even this can sometimes be confused by harsh lights or dark shadows. Experiment and enjoy the process, even mistakes are memories. 

 

Practice composing your shots

Good composition is a key element in taking great photographs. Tips for composition include the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing your subject.

The rule of thirds states that the main subject of the photograph should be placed at one of the points where the lines of a grid divide the frame. Leading lines can be used to guide the viewer's eye through the image, while balance and symmetry can create a harmonious and pleasing composition.

When using film, it's important to think about composition before taking the photo, as unlike digital, film has a limited number of shots, so it's essential to make each shot count.

Take your time

Film photography requires patience and planning, so taking your time when composing your shots and adjusting your settings will lead to a higher chance of capturing a meaningful and well-exposed image. Additionally, film has a limited number of shots per roll compared to digital, so it's essential to make each shot count by carefully considering the composition, lighting and exposure before taking the photo.

Always use a light meter to give accurate exposures

Some film cameras have a built in light meter that can help when gaining a correct exposure on your film. It's important to understand how this works in your particular camera before taking a photograph. 

If your camera does not have a light meter, you can use an external light meter to recommend the aperture and shutter-speed settings you set manually on the camera. External light meters do not need to be expensive, and in most cases a smartphone app will suffice.

If you use iPhone, a good choice for light meter app is Pocket Light Meter

If you use an Android phone, a good choice for a light meter app is Light Meter'

Experiment and learn

Film photography is an art form, and the best way to learn is by experimenting with different types of film, shooting conditions, and techniques. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, as they are an important part of the learning process.

It's also important to mention that when shooting with film, you will not be able to see the final result right away as you do with digital, so you will have to take note of the settings you used and the lighting condition, so you can make adjustments for the next shots.

 

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