In the lead up to the Melbourne fair we caught up with photographer Adrian Tuazon to chat about his journey from shooting on film to digital and back again. Adrian shares what he loves about film, and what you need to know if you’re planning to shoot on film at your wedding.

All VIP ticket holders at the Melbourne fair will have a chance to win an engagement shoot with Adrian. Get your tickets here.

Adrian Tuazon

Have you always shot on film?

When I first started shooting weddings I shot exclusively on film as that was the only thing available at the time.  About 10 years ago I first got my first Canon 5D full frame digital SLR and I jumped on the digital bandwagon, because as a photographer it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and the latest technology.

It was a fairly big learning curve to start shooting digital, but it was exciting too.  As a digital photographer you spend much more time sitting in front of a computer editing, and I had to up-skill and become acquainted with Photoshop.

What inspired you to switch back to film?

Shooting digital you have a lot more control over your images because you can pretty much do whatever you want and while I love that idea, I got burnt out. I know other photographers out there who do amazing work shooting digital, and a lot of them love editing, but it’s not me. I’m so critical of correct colour and particularly skin tone, and I find it really frustrating doing that with digital. I found myself editing my digital work to make it look more like film, and I thought – well why can’t I just shoot film?  This was back in 2009, and at the time I was taking inspiration from American fine art wedding photographer Jose Villa who never moved across to digital – he just kept shooting film.

I think the difference for me between a digital and a film shoot is when I’m shooting film I slow down and there’s more interaction with my clients. I don’t shoot as much, so it forces me to stop and think about what I shoot. For me it’s a more meaningful and thoughtful process from start to finish.

Did the switch affect your business at the time?

I had to embrace how using film would work with my business, because obviously, film is a lot more expensive and at the time many of the film labs in Melbourne and around Australia were closing. In addition, clients expected digital files so it was a new workflow that included scanning. In the beginning, I had to use a lab in the States, but thankfully it’s come a long a way since then. I’ve been able to bring my work back to Australia, and support the creative industry here. I now work with Atkins Photo Lab – a really great lab that have embraced supporting wedding portrait photography on film.

What needs to be considered when choosing film for your wedding shoot?

It’s my process as a photographer to make sure that we have a really good timeline for the day, and communicate this with my clients. This ensures you enjoy your day and at the same time allows me to take really good photos of your wedding and ensures that the day runs as smoothly as possible. One of the first things I do when I get a new client enquiry is ask them what time they’re planning to have the wedding ceremony, and I will set up a schedule around that to show them how the coverage will work.  If clients are scouting locations in the summer when there’s so much light they might plan their ceremony for 5pm, but by May with daylight savings, half an hour into the ceremony it will be pitch black. So, it can be a little bit of education, and a little wedding planning, because I really want to make sure we have a good timeline for photography so they get the most out of their day.

Does shooting on film take longer?

For me, even if I’m shooting film, it’s not necessarily longer, it’s just a different approach.  A lot of my couples value photography, so they will allow me creative freedom and they’ll allow me that time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s film or digital.  But at the same time I’m aware that I don’t want to take my couples away from their guests too long. I always encourage them to have a first look so at the end of the ceremony they can just go straight into their celebrations, instead of having to go and disappear for photos.

Do you ever go back to digital?

I call myself a hybrid photographer – I’ll still shoot some digital on the day and for some weddings I will shoot entirely on digital if necessary, like if the wedding is entirely indoors. And I need to be prepared, for example, if the weather changes and we have to bring everything inside, and digital will just shine with low light, and that’s great.  I embrace both mediums.

You’ve spoke a bit about the lab you use, tell us more about the process of developing the film.

As wedding film photographers, when we send our film to the lab it’s not an automated process – they don’t simply put it in the film developing machine and then hand us the scans. There are a lot of labs around where you can simply drop off your film and then they’re done fairly cheaply – but for the kind of work I’m doing the colour is very critical and I have a certain look and feel. At Atkins I’m assigned one person to scan and pretty much edit each frame, so it’s a custom process.  If you’re just starting out a really good film lab will try to communicate as much as possible to match the scans to the look that you want.  Because even if you shoot in film, the scans can still be done in different ways.

Finally, what’s your favourite place to shoot?

Film loves light so I love outdoor garden weddings and venues that have a lot of character.  Greenery, lots of nature, colour and outdoor scenes – that’s where film shines.