There is a strong movement in the professional photography industry moving back to film.

I can certainly understand why – the time spent at the computer vs. the time spent shooting is reason enough to lure people back. Not to mention the ramp up time it takes to learn photoshop, final print production, color management, screen calibration – I’ll stop there. My head hurts.

I started out as a film shooter. I shot in black and white, learned how to take film out of a canister in a completely blacked out room (I’ll have to tell you some other time about the guy in my class that went into the room with a glow in the dark t-shirt and ended up getting stuck in there shirtless trying to save his film. It’s a good one!) and magically watched my prints appear in solution in a dark red room.

But what pushed me to digital faster than anything was the dust. If you have ever developed your own prints, you will know that dust is your worst enemy. A tiny little speck of dust on your negative can show up as all sorts of awful things on your final image. The worst part is that if you try to replicate that print again, you have a whole new batch of dust to deal with.

So I quickly went to digital and never looked back. Not to say that there isn’t dust to deal with when shooting digitally, but I can simply touch out that dust spot that was on my sensor once in Photoshop and save it forever. I never have to look at that dust spot again.

The other reason I love digital is that it allows me see the potential in a particular image. The potential for a good image to become a memorable image.

In my work, I think this is best demonstrated in my silhouette’s.

When I was shooting Gracie & Maggie on a Saturday afternoon, it was a beautiful and bright sunny day. There was a ton of light coming in behind them creating this beautiful silhouette effect. Here is the shot straight out of camera.

I played with the settings on my camera to see if I could get a good silhouette shot of the girls by simply manipulating my manual settings.

This one was way too overexposed.

This one was way too underexposed and lost all the detail I wanted to keep.

So I ended up using the first image because the background was pretty blown out but there was still good detail of the girls. In this image I adjusted some contrast and blacks in Adobe Bridge.

From a big picture perspective my personal taste is one that lends itself towards shots that are pretty much straight out of camera with little to no post-processing. But every situation calls for something different and I think one of the biggest advantages of shooting digitally is seeing the potential in an image and doing whatever you need to do to create it.

Which is what I did in this case.

Let’s be real. I was shooting an 8 month old and a Great Dane – this meant that they were both going to leave the scene in about 1.5 seconds. So while it would have been really great to sit there and play with my settings until I had the perfect shot – it wasn’t going to happen like that. So I made a mental note of what I really wanted to do later when I sat down to download the images.

To get there, I decided to paint out the background with my white brush. Is it perfect? Nope. The bottom left bothers me as it kind of just cuts from white to rug pretty quicky. The bottom right bothers me too for various reasons. But you know what parenthood has taught me the most? Life isn’t perfect. Pictures aren’t perfect. It’s what is in between that matters. The in between here for me is the perfect moment between Maggie and Gracie. All the other little details that aren’t so perfect don’t matter at all to me.

I prefer most of my sihouette work in black and white, so that is what I did for the final image here.

  • kristin

    Great post. I like the attitude that it doesn’t have to be perfect to tell the story. This story is a study in size and I think you’ve told it well getting rid of the most obvious distractions. i love your work. My danes never stood still near the babies to be photographed so i really enjoy your images.

  • I’m so glad you are “back!”

  • Hi Erin, congrats on the new blog! I missed seeing posts about Gracie and Maggie, so I can’t wait to see what you and your girls are up to next! I’ve been “blog lurking” for many months (*ahem* years) as I quietly admire your beautiful work! You are such an inspiration and so generous to share your knowledge.

  • Hi Erin, congrats on the new blog! I missed seeing posts about Gracie and Maggie, so I can’t wait to see what you and your girls are up to next! I’ve been “blog lurking” for many months (*ahem* years) as I quietly admire your beautiful work! You are such an inspiration and so generous to share your knowledge. :)

  • I am so glad to see you back online and blogging.

    I also remember unloading the film in the darkroom, getting the spool all tangled up, and ruining a day’s work because I couldn’t “get it right.” I always loved the moment when the photo actually started to appear, and to see if I had a good one or not. I have a box in a closet at my parents’ home with hundreds of really bad photos that I developed, and maybe a couple that were just right.

    I find that I take many more photos digitally, and that I throw away a whole bunch more too!

    Welcome back!

  • love it. love it. & the new site design is great!!! :)

  • Welcome back! I’ve missed your pics. As a dog lover and new mom, you’ve inspired me with your images. I am starting a photography class in 2 weeks and can’t wait to create perfect, imperfect images!

  • Love this post, Erin! As someone who used film (all colors and sizes) exclusively for 18 years before even trying digital, I love having a choice, but I know there are definite benefits to shooting digitally. I also feel the magic when digitally editing my own images – just as I did printing my own black and white or color photos – not just sending them to the lab, or having someone else edit them. It’s great to see that you do, too.

  • I like hearing your perspective of the shoot. I’m no professional but I would never go back to film. My daughter likes it though, as do several of the bloggers I follow.

    Maggie is getting so big!!! She’s got a ways to go before she catches up with Gracie though ; )

  • Thanks for sharing! You are an inspiration to me and have been for years :)

  • love this post. love your girls.

  • Yes, yes, yes. To all of it. I still love playing with film, but mostly for fun when I have time to take my time. Working with dogs/kids/etc. means you’ve got to be faster than fast, and digital really helps you miss as little as possible. :)

  • I see the pics of Gracie & Maggie from one of Chinese Website, and I come here through the web address on the pics. I am having a baby in September ——wish it’s a baby girl. and I want a dog too. But my family are afraid of the dog would hurt the baby, so………I have to give up.
    I love your photos and waiting for more funny about Gracie & Maggie…

  • Jenn

    I never liked “perfect” photos anyway. I always prefered those that captured emotions and a certain moment.

  • great post, love to read how you did this!

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