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Freda Banks – film vs digital…

A couple of months ago I received an email from photographer Freda Banks saying she needed causal, natural portraits for her website that show she is artistic in a friendly and approachable manner.

I had never met Freda, I had only seen her beautiful work online, so when she answered the door looking like this…020paigegreenFreda5214-002239-R1-012I was immediately very excited and extremely intimidated.

028paigegreenFreda5214-002241-R1-015

Very excited… because she wanted me to photograph with film, which is my most favorite way to photograph.

Extremely intimidated… because I always assume every photographer is more talented and knowledgeable than I am. So photographing other photographers means having to wrestle my brain into silent submission, at least enough so I can do the job I was hired to do.

001paigegreenFreda5214-002240-R1-002Also extremely intimidated… because Freda is stunningly beautiful with an incredible sense of style, which meant I felt this overwhelming pressure to take the most amazing photos of my life, in order to live up to this fun opportunity to play with film and with beauty.

031paigegreenFreda5214-002238-R1-008But because Freda really is artistic in a friendly and approachable manner, it didn’t take us long to feel comfortable with each other, allowing me to silence my overactive brain and focus instead on finding good light. We talked and played and talked and played, and before I knew it, three hours had passed, which is a long time to make one person model, so I reluctantly put away my cameras and we said good-bye.023paigegreenFreda5214-002239-R1-015

(All of the above photos were taken with medium format film.)

While I do love film, it was a long painful wait for the film scans to return… luckily I had a few digital files to tide me over until the film scans finally returned.

Digital photography is a wonderful tool and I am so grateful to have it, but when given the opportunity to shoot with film… it is really hard for me to put down the film cameras and pick up the digital ones again.

I just love the sensory experience of photographing with film cameras. I love the sound of the shutter and the crisp, yet ethereal way the world looks through film lenses.

But film is slow, it is expensive and it can be unpredictable. You don’t always know what the results will be like and you have to wait a long time to find out… which for me translates to: exciting and risky (like the hard-to-get, tall cute guy, with big glasses and mismatched socks, who I married.)

Digital is fast, it is inexpensive (if you don’t factor in your editing time and you don’t upgrade your equipment every 9 months) and you know immediately if you got the photo or not… which for me translates to: boring and predictable.

But the advantage of shooting both digital and film is that I get to show a direct comparison between the two and you can decide for yourself which you prefer.

Below are examples of similar photos taken in both digital and film, with no retouching and very minimal color alterations on the digital files…

freda

digital                                                                              filmfreda1

digital                                                                              film freda2

digital                                                                              film

I admit, it’s a really close call… but film still wins my heart. What do you think?

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

All posts by paige green →

5 Comments

  1. I love them both, mainly because of your talent and how you captured this beautiful woman. I do think I favor film…xoxo

    Reply

  2. Terri said it well. I too prefer the film, but your talent in capturing Freda is the big winner. Those images are just wonderful. They make me want to explore her work.

    Reply

  3. Gorgeous! Personally I am partial to film for the smooth richness & depth… but there is something magic about the immediacy of digital. And what a funny coincidence to see this post… Freeda has been a client of ours for quite some time but we had no idea she is such an amazing photographer. Love it when the world feels small & connected. Beautiful shots Paige!
    Cheers,
    Katie & William

    Reply

  4. For me, your film photos win hands down. The digital ones are excellent (at least), but side by side, the film photos just show that you had more fun making them than you had making the digital ones…

    Reply

  5. jasminevincent July 20, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Like you, I would choose film over digital. It’s like a blind date with a hottie: you look forward to it, not sure what to expect and the results could go either way. Your photos of Freda but natural and beautiful. Clearly, your skills whip wonders with either formats so congrats on the lovely photos!

    Reply

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