9 Film Photography Tips

With the increasing demand for digital camera and success of smartphone cameras, many forget that traditional film cameras still make their way in the world. Although they are more popular with shooting film for artists, they can be fun to use when taking vintage photos. In this article, we will explore our top nine film photography tips, and how to use a film camera.

1. Learn About Your Camera

To perfect your film photography, here are some film photography tips to help you understand your camera inside and out. A digital camera can let you view your image instantaneously and allow you to take a multitude of shots until you have the right one. On the other hand, a film camera only lets your view the image once it’s developed. So, you better know your camera like the back of your hand.

pentax s3 film camera

2. Understand Your Film

Once you understand your camera, the next film photography tips you have to learn are brands and film. Since different types of brands respond to different types of cameras, you have to know which brand to choose for your camera.

When choosing film for your camera, you have to choose either black and white or color. For beginners, black and white is a good choice since it can help make your photos look better if you are still learning on how to add exposure to your photo shoot.

The next step to understand is determining how much ISO you need. The lower ISO number you register, the less sensitive your camera will be to light. This being said, it’s important to have a higher ISO for lighter environments. 400 ISO is a good number for beginners to start off with since it works for a larger range of lighting conditions.

3. Mind Your Shutter Speed

The next set of film photography tips centers around how to properly function shutter speeds on your camera. Shutter speed is what controls how much light your camera registers due to the speed of how fast the shutter closes and opens. For example, a faster shutter speed setting helps make for a more crisp action photo. However, a slower speed can help create a type of blurring effect. Also, with the help of a tripod, you can help catch slight movement and get a better shot.

4. Use F-Stop to Your Advantage

Aperture is known as the diameter of your camera lens that lets light in. When represented as a fraction of focal length, it is called an f-stop. When the f-stop is reduced, the aperture decreases. To get clearer pictures, your camera should have a high aperture and a higher f-stop to allow for more light.

aperture and f-stop diagram

5. Use a Light Meter

Using a light meter can be incredibly useful when you are shooting film. This is doubly so if you are shooting portraits. A light meter is used to measure the amount of light there is in a scene. Knowing this number, you can more accurately set your exposure time. Using a light meter can also help you to keep film and processing costs low.

6. Learn How to Store the Film

The old piece of advice is true, you absolutely should store your film in the refrigerator. The chemicals that are used to make the film react negatively to heat. Once heat is introduced to the film, it begins to deteriorate. The faster it heats up, the faster it breaks down. By keeping your film cold and in the fridge, you can slow down the deterioration process. However, keeping your film cold will not stop the process completely, just delay it.

7. Get Your Photos Developed

This plays as big a part in film photography as actually taking the pictures does. Choose a trustworthy photo lab with a good reputation to develop your photos. Try to find a lab that uses de-ionized water and has in place a professional chemical replenishment system. The lab should also perform regular checks on the color balance, temperature, and pH. This will ensure that every photo developed is consistent and quality. Or, you could always learn how to develop your prints on your own.

8. Experiment With Different Films And Settings

This is perhaps one of the most crucial film photography tips. Every camera, film, and technique combination will produce a different and unique end product. The only way you can figure out what works best for you and your camera is to test out different settings and types of film. You may also want to experiment with different types of film cameras. Luckily, a lot of film cameras can be purchased new or used and are actually cheaper than digital ones.

To keep track out which combinations you like the best, try keeping a journal. This way you can refer back to your journal once the photos are developed and you can determine which settings you like the most. Keeping a journal is a good idea because in the time it takes to get the photos developed, you may forget which exact settings you used.

kodak photography films

9. Practice Makes Perfect

Finally, probably the most important of all film photography tips is… practice. Now is the time to take your new film camera out for a test drive. Get out and shoot. It does not matter what you shoot or where just get out there and try your best. There will make it much easier to get used to your film camera and learn how to improve your work in the future. Some people head out to shoot film with an air of caution since you can only take a limited number of photos. While this mindset is generally good, when you are first starting out, you don’t need to worry.

After all, you won’t know what you and your camera are capable of until you try it out. Once you get the photos developed, you can determine what works and what does not. Try not to think of it as film wasted, think of it more as valuable learning experience.


Film cameras may seem like a dying breed, but they are still fairly common in the photography world. Hopefully, these analog photography tips could help you understand and shoot better using your own film camera. Also, feel free to share below if you have any other film photography tips to help those just starting.

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