5 Film Photography Tips For Beginners (On A Budget!)

1. Find your camera.


Before dropping a bag on a film camera on Depop or a trendy store, just remember that most decent point-and-shoot film cameras can be acquired for as little as totally free!


Search your local second-hand store, your parent's house, online, or a haunted mansion. Don't break the bank! 35-millimeter cameras are the most widely used and the easiest to find in working condition, so try starting with one of those.


Also, point-and-shoot cameras (the ones without those big lenses that stick out) are fun in that you don’t have to worry so much about having the perfectly focused shot. Oftentimes, point-and-shoot cameras are smaller and more easily transported and effortlessly whipped out when the mood strikes.


2. Learn the basics.

You don’t need to take an expensive class to learn how to use a film camera the right way! There are plenty of online tutorials that show and explain in detail everything from loading film to choosing just the right amount of exposure to creatively utilizing your ISO settings. Depending on how much of your camera is automatic, some cameras might require more of a learning curve than others. Just be patient and enjoy getting to know your camera!


CHANHO BANG, 2019

3. Learn to develop your own film/prints! If you have access to a dark room (or a dark closet!)


If you're making a bunch of trips to get your film developed and printed, you might consider learning how to make your own darkroom prints. Even if you don't have access to a dark room, you can still make your own on the cheap!


Being able to develop and print your own photographs is a pretty cool skill to have, and it gives you a lot more control over how your final prints will come out. You can experiment with things like "pushing" and "pulling" your film, dodging and burning in your prints, filters, and anything else you might want to try (like developing your film with beer).


SARAH VELK, 2016

4. Experiment with:

  • Light and exposure

  • Different types of film

  • Using expired film (often sold at a discount and gives a wide variety of effects!)

  • Different cameras

  • Subject matter


SARAH VELK, 2019

5. Bring it everywhere, that way you can never miss a shot!



Bonus tip:


When in doubt, over-expose!


It’s much better to have a photo that was exposed one or two stops over the amount recommended by the light meter rather than under. Slightly over-exposing creates a higher contrast level and, obviously, a brighter photograph.


CHANHO BANG, 2019

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