I’m Ann, a film wedding and portrait photographer specialising in destination weddings and lifestyle portraits.
I’m German, lived in England for 8 years, travelled around for 3 years and finally settled down in San Francisco this year. Fun fact is that I’m also a yoga and meditation teacher, which keeps me sane when lugging my cameras around the world.
I’ve been photographing weddings full time since 2012 after a long career as a film editor working in music videos (RIP), advertising and TV – one day I simply had to get out of the editing suite in a windowless basement!
I shoot entirely on film which comes with a lot of extra faff already, so I try to keep my gear to an absolute minimum.
I can’t remember the last time I shot a wedding that was within driving distance of where I live, so everything has to fit into my carry on luggage.
My main workhorse is a medium format camera. I went from a lovely old Hasselblad 500 C/M to a Contax then back to a Hasselblad H2.
The big advantage of shooting Hasselblad is that it’s reliable, the autofocus (though slow) works, and there are still service centres available worldwide if needed.
I use an 80mm f/2.8 lens on it which is equivalent to a 50mm length on a regular camera. The grip on the Hasselblad H2 is a rechargeable battery that I have three of which makes life a lot easier than disposable batteries.
I also have two extra film inserts that I pre-load so I can change the film more quickly when shooting under time constraints.
The medium format film is simply delicious to look at, especially for portraits. It’s more of a deliberate way to work rather than fast and quick. I use this camera almost 100% for portraits and for anything that holds still and needs to look especially good on a wedding day.
For the candids and more fast-paced moments I use a 35mm Nikon camera.
I kept going back and forth between an F100 and an F5 but prefer the more basic F100 over the F5 – it does pretty much the same thing but weighs about half as much.
I love, love, love prime lenses regardless of zooms being more convenient and use the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 and the 105mm f/2.8.
The film 35mm format is slightly wider than your regular full frame digital chip, so I often find the 35mm to be too wide for me. I use it mainly for location shots, great landscapes and to take in a full room in its entirety. I pretty much use it for only an establishing shot when I’m shooting portraits and then swap to a closer lens.
The 50mm is the same length as the 80mm on my medium format camera, so for weddings I rarely use this length for long on my Nikon.
I still have a total crush on my 105mm lens. This is a macro lens which comes in handy for any details but also gives amazing compression for anything further away. It’s a dream to use for candid shots during cocktail hour and speeches, great for sneaky close-ups during portraits and perfect if you’re banned from moving around much during a ceremony.
Shooting film means you’ll have a lot of film on you. Like, a LOT. Once you’ve shot a roll it’s still there! So you’re not even using it up during the day.
I number all my rolls with a Sharpie to save me hours later on when I get my film scans back from the lab and then pack all film safely inside Ziploc bags at all times. I never expected to be using this many Ziploc bags in my life but here you go. The rolls of film need to be safe from any moisture, and if you’ve ever had to stash your bag somewhere whilst shooting family formals and all the guests are huddled around with random glasses of champagne everywhere, then you know what I’m talking about.
For bags I have an absurd love of the Think Tank roller bags. I’ve now settled on the Think Tank Airport Advantage as it is smaller than the Airport International I also have. European airlines are very strict with their size regulations for carry on luggage and this one fits most airlines.
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I stay away from budget airlines these days and carry on size restriction is one reason for that. Just FYI – if you’re gate-checking your gear it won’t be insured.
Once I start working, I use a tote bag with a padded Billingham camera insert inside it. I got tired of camera bags immediately costing 400% more than a regular bag so now I use the padded camera insert and any tote bag I am using at the moment.
I wear the two cameras I’m using on me with a Holdfast camera strap and have extra lenses and all my film in the tote bag.
Hasselblad H2 with 80mm f/2.8 and 3 film inserts
Nikon 35mm f/1.4
Nikon 50mm f/1.4
Nikon 105mm f/2.8
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Kodak Portra 400 – This film stock has the best latitude and allows for some underexposure and a ton of overexposure. It’s the most flexible for changeable light conditions on a wedding day.
Kodak is one of the last professional film companies that is still producing consistently great film stock. I like that I know what to expect when using this film in all kinds of conditions – plus the people at Kodak are fab and great to work with.
Think Tank Airport Navigator
Billingham padded camera bag insert
Holdfast Moneymaker strap
Lab & Film
Richard Photo Lab – Having a lab that is willing to work with you is paramount to delivering consistently great images. RPL is this lab for me and so much more. They’re like family to me at this point and I’m grateful to know that no matter what happens on the wedding day they will get the best possible result out of what I shot.
Film Supply Club – If you are shooting film on a regular basis and are based in the US I highly recommend signing up for a membership. Their film prices are unbeatable and worth it tenfold. Plus Braedon who founded and runs FSC is a total sweetheart.
SPF 50 always. I use a tinted one which means I won’t have to worry about make-up either – it wouldn’t last very long anyway.
I try to have a bottle of water on me at all times as it’s so easy to forget to drink something. And sometimes you simply won’t have time to get a glass of water. Plus a banana and nuts if possible, nothing worse than the sudden onset of capital letter HUNGER whilst in a church or during speeches than run over.
My Sharpie and Ziploc bags. Being organised is so, so important when shooting film. Imagine changing your memory card every 16 pictures and having to keep track of all of them. Yes. Exactly.
Don’t get scared of shooting film. Most of all it’s fun! I hated nothing more than having an amazing shot but I’d taken it on my digital camera and wished it was on film.