Which film type are you? Are you more of a vibrant Portra shooter or a cool-and-neutral Fuji shooter?
First things first: you get to decide! There are no wrong answers here. The only thing I want you to do is get rid of every image you have in your head right now. In a world where we can view anyone's work with simple scrolling, we need to step back. So block out all of the images that come to your mind when I say "film" or "portra" or "fuji." What images remain? What inspires you?
The film type that you choose will effect the coloring of the image - the contrast, the saturation, the skintones - all of it! When I think of different film types, there are 3 that come to mind: Ilford Delta, Portra and Fuji. Since I don't shoot black and white film, I'll be talking about Portra & Fuji!
Which film type do I use?
I almost always shoot Portra 800! Yes, I know that it's a little more expensive, but I am drawn to the rich color and beautiful shadows in Portra. I guess I have expensive taste! Ha! I still have some Fuji 400 on hand and am giving it one last shot, but I prefer Portra 800 and have loved it since I first gave it a try in 2015!
Portra loves to show off yellows, oranges, and reds. I expose my Portra 800 just like I would my Fuji 400 to get the look that I want - light and airy with rich color. I first fell in love with it after photographing Daniel one morning in our bedroom.
I always have my editor, Annie (the FIND lab), pull down the warmth in my scans so that I still have those cool tones I love so much.
Fuji loves to show off blues and greens. I was first drawn to this film type because I love the beautiful blue-greens in film! Fuji is also more muted and definitely not as vibrant as Portra! It's important to nail your exposure since Fuji isn't very forgiving of mistakes.
Choose your film
Don't make any final decisions about the film you love until you have a relationship with your lab that is well established. Keep an open mind and try both types. Who knows? You may be surprised by which film you really love. I know I was!
where can you buy film?
This may go without saying, but make sure that you buy the type of film that your camera needs. If you're shooting on a 35mm camera, you will want to buy 35mm film. If you're shooting on a medium format camera, you will want to buy 120 or 220 film.
If you love neutral, cooler images, give Fuji a try! And if you love vibrant, warm images, Portra may just be the film for you!
If you have two cameras, try shooting different film stocks to see which stock you prefer in different lighting situations. You may discover that you only love a particular stock when you're shooting landscapes or when the sun is rising! So, tell me - which film stock are you?