I resisted the film filter craze for a long time. Sure I played around with them from time to time and I even went on a couple casual dates but I never said I love you and I always listed my relationship status as “it’s complicated.”
The first set of filters I used years ago were fun but they were a bit overdone for my taste and I got bored with them quickly. I would give a small selection of bonus filtered images to clients but they didn’t seem too excited about them so I stopped. I thought the fad was dead but I kept seeing more and more beautiful VSCO filtered images on industry leading wedding photography sites like Junebug Weddings or Fearless Photographers.
I caved in a few months ago and purchased the VSCO Film 07 packet and loaded it into Lightroom and I started experimenting. I fell in love right away, so many different creative options. No, these filters aren’t going to make a bad picture great but they can add to a great image when used properly. I like many of the filters as they come but I found I get best results when I add a filter and then make my own modifications on top of that.
Simply put the filters are awesome, you just have to discover your style, figure out which ones to use, when to use them, and how you like to tweak them to create your own distinctive look. I think they work especially well for wedding photography. Many our of our clients are having rustic or vintage themed weddings, add a filter that matches their theme and you have something really special.
Our photographers have all started to experiment with them and more and more film-filtered shots are finding their way into our portfolios. We haven’t completely switched to delivering clients filtered images but we are currently offering a bonus folder of the best shots also done with a particular look that fits the style of the photographer and the client’s taste. The next step for us might even be to have our clients pick a certain look from an assortment of options and our team will apply it. We will still deliver our original style of toning and I don’t see that changing any time soon but having both options is a nice bonus for our clients.
For all your brides and grooms out there wondering about this film filter craze here are a few words of advice. Filters are fairly easy to apply in post-production and any photographer with a computer or a phone can apply them. Don’t pick your wedding photographer based on their filter style, choose them based on their overall photography style, reputation, and the way they tell stories and capture moments. VSCO doesn’t yet have a filter that can change your photographer after your wedding day, and god help us all in the industry if they do develop that. Every photographer will be different but if you like the film look, have a discussion with your photographer and talk it over after the wedding. I’d ask their opinion on which filters suits your wedding look best and have them show you a few options of different looks on the same photos.
Lastly, a certain look might go out of style in a few years so I definitely wouldn’t recommend getting all your images toned with a distinct look especially if you didn’t purchase the RAW files. You can’t go back so if you are getting a film filter package do so in addition to your wedding images with a more neutral look. Every photographer will be different in the way they approach pricing and deliverable so just ask them up front.
Here is the way we do things. Our packages for weddings range from 400-800 color-corrected images and in addition to that we give our “Wedding Story” edit that is typically around 100 of our favorite images sequenced to tell the story of your wedding day from start to finish. For those images we do a second round of light retouching. For now while we experiment with the film packages we are going to give our clients a sample of 10 bonus images filtered the way the photographer feels suits the style of the wedding. The next step for us is we will offer the option to have their “Wedding Story” film filtered and will give our clients a sample of filters to choose from. This way the client will also have the same pictures with a more neutral toned backed up in their 400-800 pictures and they aren’t married(see what I did there) to a certain look forever in good times and bad.
For all you photographers out there, sorry I’m not going into detail saying which filter I used for which images. I feel this is something you should explore on your own, find your style and experiment.
I’m not sure if the film filter craze is here to stay or not but I dig it and so do our clients so we will experiment some more and see where this goes. I’m not ready to marry you yet VSCO, but I can openly say “I love you” and I have changed my relationship status to “In a relationship.”
Here are some of my favorite VSCO film filtered images from recent weddings all over the world.