Interview: Terry Li Wedding Photography
Hi Terry, firstly can you tell me a little bit about your journey towards becoming a film photographer?
I am a London based fine art wedding photographer. I shoot with both medium format film and digital. I used to work with digital cameras only for many years, but I have reached the point of wanting to create better work. So I started to look into film photography, and then I fell in love with it!
Film produces such an incredible look on the skin tone, and it has an ethereal and elegant finish. It’s timeless and has a romantic feel to it, and that’s what my brand is all about. I also really enjoy the process of not being able to see the images until the lab returns the scans – it’s like unwrapping Christmas presents each time!
What makes a great venue for film photography?
Photography is always about light, light and more light, and even more so for film photography. So a venue with lots of natural light would be the best choice. Speak to your photographer, plan ahead and find out the best way to work together to create the images that you have been dreaming of.
What are the main challenges and limitations you’ve learned about?
Film has its limitation: it craves light! It works great when we are at bright outdoor locations or indoor locations with big windows. But once the sun is gone, then our options for film stocks become very limited, we can either shoot with a black and white film or use artificial light to light the scene. But that’s why having the options of shooting both digital and film is the best combinations on a wedding day.
Why is the investment is typically higher for film photography vs digital?
It takes time and lots of practice to master film photography, and to able to produce consistent results no matter what lighting situations you find yourself at. There’s the actual cost of shooting film and also of developing them as well of course – I ship my film rolls across the continent to Canada, where a professional team develop the rolls for me. Overall, it’s a more complicated process, involving more human time and also more specialist machinery. But if you love the look of film photography, it’s worth it!
Let’s get technical! If you’re happy to share, could you tell us what your go-to camera, lens, film, and film lab are? Why are these your favourites?
I shoot with a Contax 645, favourite film stock is Kodak Portra 400, and I use the Canadian Film Lab to get the film processed just how I vision it.
How did you work your way up to the first wedding and secured further bookings?
I was actively looking for insights into the industry and worked as a second shooter with a number of experienced wedding photographers. This was a great opportunity to build up a portfolio. Eventually, I secured my first booking through a referral from a photographer I worked with.
How about your presentation of finished images?
I use a fine art photo album that is 100% hand-made in the UK. I am amazed by how much effort, level of detail and attention is dedicated to each album. Considering that we are now living in a digital age that separates us somewhat from the physical world, a hand-made photo album is a fine conduit to the real world. It is simply stunning and worth investing in.
You can find out more about Terry and get in touch with her via her profile page here.