Thursday, June 5, 2008

Film vs. Digital

Boston-based photographer Bob O'Connor asked me the following question:
What is the agency feeling if a photographer still wants to shoot film (large format specifically 4x5 or 8x10)? Is it ok with agencies despite the fact that it slows down production a day or two?

I decided to get a few opinions on this instead of just giving mine so I asked the question on the art producers forum as well as LinkedIn. LinkedIn unfortunately wasn't abundant with answers (see the answers here) but a few had some interesting opinions.

Here are two quotes from art buyers:
"It didn’t seem to be a problem with our clients or our production department. The images were beautiful and we just went with it. I think it should be up to the photographer and the overall look you are after." (on shooting with film for a project last year)

"there are projects for clients that we shoot only digital because it's part of the look & feel of the brand. There are other times that the look of film or digital is an intrinsic part of the photographer' s style and that's what we are asking him/her for. Ultimately it is not a cost difference or enough of a time difference to matter."

My opinion is similar to the above opinions. It really depends on the project and the look of the concept the creatives are hoping to achieve. If they do not know the photographer shoots with traditional film it's a good idea to bring it up in the first creative call you have with the agency so it's worked into the budgeting and the schedule.

I am finding more and more that clients prefer to shoot with digital. Reason being is because they can see the image automatically and decide if they like the look of it or if they want it tweaked, with film there is not that automatic satisfaction. We're in a microwave society where everything is instantly at our fingertips. On set or on location, digital is great to work with as well because what we see with our eyes is very different from what is captured on the camera. It's an asset to have the client and agency see it on screen.

But the question is film or digital... essentially I don't believe it matters because the photographer is being hired for his/her visual creative and the successful quality it brings to the client's brand.