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Beginners Guide to Film Photography

Finally, a place for you to learn step by step how to shoot on film and what you’ll need to get started.

It’s no secret film photography huge has made a comeback in recent years (as if it ever truly went out of style). So, I figured with more photographers taking an interest in film, and more and more clients interested in having film photos in their gallery, it was time to create a resource for you to get started with film.

In this blog we’ll be covering 

  1. How to Get Started with Film through Research
  2. What Beginner-Friendly Film Cameras and Accessories to Buy
  3. Tips for Shooting with a Film Camera
  4. Next steps for Adding Film Photography in Your Business

How to Get Started with Film Photography through Research

Before you dive headfirst into the world of film photography, it's crucial to start with some research. Here are a few key steps to help you begin:

  1. Understand the Basics: Familiarize yourself with the fundamental concepts of film photography, such as camera settings, shooting and lighting tips, and basics of loading, storing, and developing film.
  2. Explore Different Camera and Film Formats: Film photography encompasses various formats, including 35mm, medium format, and large format. Research the characteristics of each format and consider which one aligns with your creative vision and budget.
  3. Study Inspirational Work: This is a portion of the process I think we tend to forget. Photography isn’t all about “doing” but sometimes about sitting back and taking in what’s already been done.  You can find inspiring portfolios in books, magazines, and online galleries.
  4. Choose Your Film Stock: Research different types of film stocks and their unique characteristics, such as color rendition, grain, and sensitivity to light. Experimenting with various films will help you find your personal style.


What Beginner-Friendly Film Cameras and Accessories to Buy

Selecting the right camera and accessories is crucial for a successful start in film photography. Here's a few of my recommendations:

  1. Entry-Level Film Cameras: For beginners, it's best to start with a simple, fully automatic 35mm film camera. Some popular options include the Contax T2, Olympus Stylus, Canonet QL17, and Yashica T4. These cameras are readily available in the used market and are relatively affordable.
  2. Film Stock: Start with a few rolls of popular film stocks like Kodak Tri-X (black and white) and Kodak Portra (color). These films offer excellent quality and are forgiving for beginners.
  3. Light Meter: While some cameras have built-in light meters, it's a good idea to have a separate handheld light meter for more precise exposure readings, especially in challenging lighting conditions. You can use an external light meter, download a phone app, or use your digital camera to find proper exposure.
  4. Other Essentials: Don't forget to stock up on batteries (if your camera requires them), a camera bag, and a sturdy tripod. Additional accessories you may want or need, depending on your camera, are a flash, additional lenses, and a cable release.


Tips for Shooting with Film

Now that you've got your gear ready, it's time to start capturing images on film. Here are some tips to help you make the most of shooting with your camera:

  1. Master Manual Settings: Learn how to set your camera's aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually. Understanding these settings is fundamental to creating well-exposed images.
  2. Be Mindful of Composition: Apply the rules of composition, such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing, to create visually engaging photos. Since you can’t see the image while you’re shooting, it’s important to be more mindful of composition when shooting film.
  3. Take Your Time: Unlike digital photography, where you can snap hundreds of shots, film photography encourages a more deliberate approach. Take your time to compose and meter your shots carefully.
  4. Experiment and Have Patience: Film photography can be unpredictable, and it may take time to master. Embrace mistakes and happy accidents as part of the process.


Next steps for Adding Film Photography in Your Business

If reading all of this information feels overwhelming, or you feel ready to start implementing film photography tomorrow, I would recommend checking out The Film Course inside Rise Photo Academy .

The Film Course touches on each of these topics and more. In the course Josie Brooks and I cover film more in depth, and include behind the scenes videos, tutorials, a discussion call, editing tutorials, exclusive film presets and more.

CLICK HERE to join Rise and watch The Film Course to learn the art of film photography and how it can elevate your work and increase your revenue.


photo by Josie Brooks


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