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Wedding Photography: In A Vintage Light

Megan McCarty Alisa Welch

Film cameras might have gone the way of the Betamax machine if not for the support of a small cadre of local photographers who maintain that the most significant images of our lives should be immortalized on film, rather than digital files. Here they share their favorite images and why they love the look that only film can deliver.

(above) For the past four years, Portland-based Ryan Wilcox of You Look Nice Today Photography has shot film nearly exclusively though it may not be obvious upon first glance at his portfolio. “My clients frequently tell me that they chose me to document their wedding because there was just something different about my photos but they can’t put their finger on it,” explains Wilcox. “Most of the time it’s because I shoot film.” Wilcox caught this humorous interlude between newlyweds Terra and Paul Daktyl at Portland’s Laurelhurst Club and while the groom holds a Polaroid Land Camera in front of his mug, the image was actually shot using a Contax 645. This professional grade medium-format film camera utilizes modern technology to produce amazingly crisp images, advances that only enhance film’s inherent qualities.

Photo by Aisha Harley

(above) Until recently, Portland photographer Aisha Harley shot weddings armed only with an array of vintage cameras including the Hasselblad 500cm she used to get this photo of bride Nancy Davis being walked down the aisle by her sister at Portland’s Benson Hotel. “I love the vintage feel of this photo and the energy and emotion that is revealed through the eyes of the woman in the audience,” says Harley. Hasselblad cameras are the darlings of photographers due to their interchangeable lenses and adaptability in different settings. Harley uses her vintage cameras to catch what she calls “that decisive moment,” or the moment when the photographer knows that everything is perfect and takes the shot—without the benefit of that tiny screen on the back of a digital camera.

Photo by Jay Eads

(above) "Film has such a life of its own,” says Eugene photographer Jay Eads who took this photograph of the interlaced hands of Landon and Jamie Baron using a Canon EOS-3 35mm loaded with Illford Delta 3200 black and white film. This relatively inexpensive film camera (and equally inexpensive film) is a favorite among photographers—amateurs and pros alike—who praise its professional controls and rich quality of photographs that digital cameras can only simulate. “Film has an organic flavor, like listening to the analog recordings of the 60s and 70s,” says Eads. “There’s a rawness and imperfection, that makes it...well, just perfect.”

Photo by Kim+Phil PhotographyPhoto by Kim+Phil Photography

(above) Since the demise of the Polaroid, the joy of shaking a square photograph and awaiting the image’s slow emergence has faded into memory. That is until a new crop of instant cameras with decidedly Digital Age features came on the market. Photographers Kim Pham and Phil Shen of Portland’s Kim+Phil Photography used Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 25 to take these adorable engagement shots of Petrel and Jacob Farkas at Wallace Park in Northwest Portland. With some controls for lighting and focus, the Instax takes the best parts of a Polaroid (instant gratification) and digital (refinement of images) and prints credit card-sized photographs out of the camera’s side that are perfect for wedding favors.

Photo by Danielle Hughson

(above) Portland photographer Danielle Hughson used a Nikon F100 and Kodak Portra 400VC film to record newlyweds Lewis Notestine’s and Sarahfina Peterson’s moment of repose at the North Star Ballroom in Portland. Adjusting the camera’s setting to account for the difficult-to-control backlighting, Hughson exploited the richly textured qualities inherent in non-digital photos. “Film and film cameras can do a wonderful job of capturing detail in both highlights and shadows, so I’m never afraid to shoot into the light and overexpose by a stop or two for the main subject,” she says. Hughson particularly appreciates the the tones and grain achieved by film for wedding shots. “It lends itself perfectly to romance.”

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