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WHY IS FILM SO EXPENSIVE? EXPLAINED!

FILED UNDER:

film photography

super 8

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Image from Linden Place

OMG, you want us to photograph your wedding on film. THAT’S EPIC BABES!  So, why is it so expensive?

With the resurgence of film in the wedding industry we feel the need to address something that has been on our minds.

PRICING.

As of late, we’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts saying, “Looking for a reasonably priced FILM WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER.”

Here’s the problem: FILM ISN’T REASONABLY PRICED. So why is the expectation that film wedding photography should be “reasonably” priced? Let’s dive into it.

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Image from Nina + Tom’s Wedding Weekend

A Little History Lesson

Digital photography was introduced as a way for photographers to save money. The switch over to the “digital age” caused a disruption in the analogue industry. Film demand declined which ultimately resulted in a lot of companies closing their doors.

FAST FORWARD TO 2018! BREAKING NEWS! KODAK RE-RELEASES EKTACHROME!!!!! THE SLIDE FILM OUR GRANDMAS USED AND PROBABLY YOURS TOO!

BOOM! PANDEMIC! EVERYONE HAS FREE TIME! This gave some people the opportunity to develop (pun intended) their film skills. Between COVID and the “film renaissance” the cost of film has gotten EXPENSIVE AF!

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Image from Linden Place

THE $$ BREAKDOWN:

As of 2024 a SINGULARRR ROLL of professional-grade film costs between $17 -$25 depending on the stock (and could be more depending on where you buy, yikes). 

Developing and scanning costs on average $25- $40 per roll of film which can vary DRASTICALLY depending on the film stock and where you send your film. Some photographers develop & scan their own film. WE DON’T EVEN want to get into the astronomical amount of time, money, and effort that takes. BLESS THEM.

We didn’t even dive into cutting, sleeving, and shipping. At the end of the day, everything boils down to an average of $60 per roll of film. THAT’S A LOT OF FORKING MONEY. 

If we shoot 45 rolls of film (per package), our FILM COSTS ALONE come down to $2,700!!!!!!!!!! BRO THAT’S A MORTGAGE PAYMENT! Compare that to a $200 SD card that a digital photographer can re-use at other weddings… TO PUT IT SIMPLY IT’S MORE EXPENSIVE!

That does not include ALL THE OTHER EXPENSES of running a small business SOLO.

Now factor in how long it takes to master the medium. Unlike digital where you can fuck around and find out, you can’t see the image right away. Your settings must be correct or ya FORKED. This takes TIME to learn. Have you ever seen a digital photographer meter for light? We are willing to bet you haven’t lol! It’s a whole thing. Film photographers like Javi and I have invested A BOATLOAD of MONEY and TIME to perfect their craft.

THIS on top of the fact that WE NEED TO MAKE A PROFIT TO LIVE!! Rent, groceries, toothpaste, cat food YA KNOW? So, to actually MAKE MONEY shooting film, we have to reflect the cost of our LABOR, FILM, WORK, etc.

Image from Nina + Tom’s Wedding Weekend

WOAH “hybrid” photographers?!! Real or fake?

WHAT’S A HYBRID PHOTOGRAPHER YOU ASK? Hybrid photographers shoot both digital and film at a minimum 70% – 30% split. This is a PERSONAL opinion, but seems to be what film photographers in the community are accepting as hybrid.

FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT

We see a lot of photographers offering “hybrid” services. As ACTUAL hybrid wedding photographers, Javi and I can tell you that a photographer offering 1-2 rolls of film is NOT a hybrid photographer. There are a lot of people offering “film add-ons” without reflecting the true cost of film. This does a great disservice to photographers who are pricing their film accordingly.

The misconstrued assumption is that film & digital photography should be priced the same, due to the plethora of fake hybrid photographers who are offering their services at a rate that is unsustainable to any film photographer who has taken the time to curate their pricing to properly reflect the cost of film and all its labors.

It is going to take some education and a bit of elbow grease to help people understand that our pricing is NOT UNREASONABLE, it might just be out of your budget, and THAT’S TOTALLY OK!!!!!

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Image from Linden Place

Real Talk

Film is an expensive service. If you film for your wedding, you’ll have to pay more. JAVI AND I LOVE shooting film. WE ARE BEYOND PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. We want to create insane masterpiece photos on film for you, but we can’t operate our business at a loss. This is why our prices are non-negotiable.

If we want film photographers to be able to thrive in the wedding industry we NEED to educate our couples on the differences between these two mediums. This way they can make well-informed decisions on what they want and can actually afford.

This isn’t a roast y’all. We are just trying to open up a truthful dialogue that needed to happen years ago. The truth is, if people keep undercharging, film is gonna disappear again because film photographers won’t be able to make a living. 

With love and honesty, 

Dominique, Javi, & Mel

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR(S):

My good friend Mel who exclusively shoots film asked us to help edit and ultimately co-write this post. We are honored to share this post with all of you on our page because these are topics that aren’t often discussed but should be. The more people that know about film pricing the better because the plague of misinformation is rampant.

So a big thank you to Mel Tata Photography for bringing us on!

DOMINIQUE
         javi

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Destination-based film photographer and videographer team serving clients worldwide.

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