How to: Get started with film photography

Top tips for starting out in film photography 

How to: Get started with film photography

Film photography is a great way to experiment with space and the unpredictability of nature. There's something freeing about not having complete control over the final image. We’re so used to having editorial discretion within photography at our fingertips that being able to take a more carefree approach to creating art feels like a real privilege.

If you've ever wondered about film photography, or are looking for some tips to get started, here's a list of everything you need to know.

Do your research into formats

There are many formats when it comes to film photography, so it's worth having a look at the kind of photography you want to shoot because different formats have strengths and weaknesses. For example if you want to shoot general landscape photography 35mm is the way to go as it's the most widely used as well as most convenient. However if you're looking to shoot portraits, medium format may be better as it has much more depth and prints in a larger size to 35mm. 

There are 3 main types of film formats: 35mm, Medium, and large. It's worth noting that each format has its own film. For example you can't use a roll of 35mm film to shoot on large format so make sure you're buying the right film for your camera. If you're looking for something you can carry around to get you started I’d definitely recommend 35mm.

Find a good printing shop

Finding a printing shop you trust is a real case of trial and error, but it's definitely one of the most important aspects of film photography. You may have to go through a few shops before you find one that understands your vision but this is part of the fun too so enjoy collaborating with different people. 

Go secondhand 

Film cameras can get pretty pricey so it's worth looking on sites like eBay, but make sure the listing says “Tested and working” or something within that realm so you're covered financially if it arrives broken. In terms of inexpensive cameras here’s a list of 3 you could start with:

  • 35mm: Kodak 35EF 35mm Point and Shoot Camera f4.0 (in the region of £10-£20)

  • Medium: Rolleiflex (£100+)

  • Large: Canham DLC45 (£1000 +)

Good quality film is your best friend

Good quality film is what's going to give your final piece the edge it deserves. You can get relatively good quality film for under £10, such as Ilford HP5 Plus if you're shooting on 35mm. If you decide film photography is for you it might be worth investing slightly more where you can.

Don't overthink it

The whole idea of film photography in the modern-day is experimenting with colours, frames and techniques without any real power over the final cut. Particularly when you're starting out try not to overthink things and just take snapshots of things that spark your interest and inspire you.

Header Image Credit: gratuit


Faith Martin

Faith Martin Kickstart

Faith worked as a freelance journalist for a year after finishing her studies at Portsmouth College, writing for a number of esteemed publications as well as running her own music blog before joining Voice Magazine as a Kickstart Trainee Journalist. An avid vinyl collector and gig-goer, Faith also campaigns for disability rights and better disabled access at live music events.

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