How do you justify shooting commissioned works on film and how do you handle the pricing?

EG: First, let’s identify why I, personally, would want to shoot film on a job. For me, the combination of the cameras, the lenses, and the film ‘look’ create a certain picture quality that I still can’t really replicate with digital cameras. Also, I tend to shoot almost exclusively medium format film. Those cameras are slow and clumsy, so they force me to go into a mental zone that is hyper focused, methodical and way more intentional. I really enjoy that space and feel like the images are better, afterwards. Whether that’s true or not is 100% subjective, but that’s just how I feel. So if a job feels like it could yield some especially powerful imagery, I will try to shoot film if the logistics allow for it. 

Everyone will have their own reasons for wanting to shoot film, and it’s important you identify why you’re even complicating things for yourself!

Once you identify that you’d like to shoot film for a certain project, now it’s time to get that approved by the client. Some clients will love the idea and embrace the added complications. For some clients/jobs, the answer will be ‘absolutely not.’ And maybe some jobs will allow for a hybrid shoot with some shots on film, but most on digital, or something like that. Every job will be different.

In order to get approval, you’ll most likely need to let the client know how much it costs and how much longer it will take to see images. This is really as straightforward as estimating how many rolls you will shoot, what that costs to buy/develop/print/scan and put that into an estimate. On bigger jobs, you may be able to add a little on top of those costs to cover the time to buy, run to lab, etc etc. Something like a 20% markup on top of the actual costs. For example, one roll of Kodak Portra 400 costs $10 to buy and $20 to develop and scan (medium res). If I anticipate shooting 10 rolls on a job, then it’s $30 x 10. You may need to add a high res scan on top of that or an actual c-print if that’s your process. 

An example from an actual estimate below:  

Example shows a 2-day shoot where I would rent two cameras and shoot an estimated 20 rolls of 120 per day @ $35/roll

Obviously, on a bigger shoot an added cost of $1900 is not that much. But for smaller shoots, it may be problematic.