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5 Tips to Help You Get Started Shooting Film | TKP Education

Grace Paul Photography

I’m Grace, a newborn and family photographer specializing in relaxed and candid photo sessions. My focus is to capture tender and joyful moments between mother and child. I believe my job is to do more than take photos, it’s to give families tangible reminders of a life well loved. A few years into my photography business I knew something was missing in my work and my creative spirit. I had wanted to learn to shoot film for a while but wrote it off as too hard or not something I could ever do like other photographers.​​ Then one day something clicked. I realized the thing to bridge the gap between where I was in my work and where I wanted to be, was film. I put my fears aside and did the hard work of teaching myself this magical new medium.

That's where the love affair began. It took many years of trial and error to find my style. But now I get to help other creatives bridge the gap and get a jump start on learning to shoot film through virtual and in-person mentorships.

If you’re in the same boat I was, check out these top five tips to help you get started shooting film.

1. Start with 35mm

Get a used 35mm film camera from a place like KEH, eBay or Facebook Marketplace. I highly recommend KEH because they offer warranties with every purchase. A Nikon F100, Canon AE-1, or Canon 1v are my favs and a fraction of the cost of medium format.

A bonus for the F100 and 1v is that they take modern-day lenses, which saves a good bit on your startup cost.

2. Don't skimp on the light meter

Film needs a lot of light. Older cameras don't have internal meters as accurate as modern-day DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. Don't go through the work of buying yourself a camera and film, taking the photos, and developing them only for them to be incorrectly exposed. I recommend the Sekonic l358.

3. Buy consumer grade film

Fuji C200, Fuji Superia, and Kodak Gold 200 are excellent stocks to start with for color film. You can find them all for under $10. Once you're comfortable in your metering and confident in your exposures then go for the more expensive professional-grade stocks like Portra 400 or 800. And if Black and White is your jam check out Ilford HP5. Rate it at 200 or at 400 and push +1.

4. Remember the basic rules of light and composition

The process of shooting film is different but the principles of a good photo are not! Find good light, remember your rule of thirds, and embrace the magic made when you mix them! Think of transitioning to film like painting a picture. You can use watercolor or acrylic but both result in paintings. Just like you can take a photograph with digital or film, it's only a different medium.

5. Just do it

I've spoken with so many people who were afraid to start shooting film or shot a roll only to let it sit in the closet for 6 months before developing. And while I understand entirely, I want to encourage you to rip the band-aid off! Remember, done is better than perfect; the best way to learn is to get out there and do it.

Have any more film questions? I’d love to answer them for you. Find me on Instagram or contact me at

Grace Paul Photography


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