Amy O’Boyle: Weddings and Portraiture on Film Cameras

All images by Amy O’Boyle. Used with permission.

Photographer Amy O’Boyle is perhaps one of the more unique photographers to have submitted for a feature in our upcoming Analog zine. Amy is a photographer who shoots weddings and portraits for a living and occasionally does fashion. She uses both medium format and 35mm format to create the photos that she does. But on top of that, she’s a fantastic photographer.

Below is her submission.

I’m primarily a wedding photographer, but also occasionally do fashion and editorial work as well. I shoot on a Pentax 645n and also a Canon 1v with my super fast prime lenses when I need to. The medium format Pentax is my absolute favourite and my work horse, but the 1v is perfect for dark churches or receptions when I need to shoot at 1.2, and also brilliant when photographing anything that’s moving fast.

On the Pentax 645n I shoot mainly fuji400h although I often have a few rolls of portra 800 to hand should I need it. On the 1v I shoot portra 400.

I love shooting film for so many reasons. I’m a huge advocate for quality over quantity and absolutely love the idea of taking 16 wonderful photos on holiday and wanting to print them all, instead of 700 RAW files that I’ll never even bother editing. Mostly though, I just absolutely love the look you get with film- you can get reasonably close with digital but you can never absolutely nail it. There’s something about film photos that’s so emotive & special- they almost have a depth which you just can’t recreate with digital.

– I actually got into photography after drunkenly agreeing to shoot a neighbour’s wedding, despite not being remotely interested in photography or weddings (or even having a camera.) The couple ended up sending the photos to a wedding blog, a couple of enquiries followed, and then I promptly set about making my newly acquired politics degree completely unnecessary.

– Slim Aaron’s will forever be number one, followed closely by Rodney Smith and Jose Villa.

– I’ve been shooting for about 5 years now.

– Shooting editorials allows me to get creative and get stuck into something fun, but shooting weddings lets me preserve on film a moment in time which will be in a family for generations. Getting that one shot that someone will love for long after the wedding day- even after they’ve passed away- that’s really why I do it.

– Absolutely half and half. You need to document things as they are in order to preserve an authentic memory, but at the same time there’s a million ways to photograph the same event- the way you choose to capture it is always created and rarely accidental.

– Genuinely, I’m normally just thinking PLEASE DON’T FUCKING BLINK as I’m about to take each shot… It’s not like you can rattle off 20 shots in a second when you’re shooting film. But generally: I get my settings where I want them, get the light in the right place, and then concentrate on nothing but making sure my subject or my frame is perfect- and if it’s a human that means a lot of talking whilst you’re looking through the viewfinder, waiting for the exact right second for their reaction to be perfect. I try to shoot 16 frames with different poses all at once, and then give them a few seconds break whilst I switch backs. (Multiple backs is the KEY to shooting film in my opinion- even with a film assistant nothing is as quick as changing backs.)

– My processing is mainly outsourced in that I send my rolls to the lab (either Carmencita in Spain or the Canadian Film Lab, in Canada) to be developed and scanned. I then do minor tweaks in Lightroom when I receive my scans back to improve them, but it’s not the same long process you get with digital editing.

– In a nutshell- I’ve never liked a digital photo even half as much as I like every film photo I’ve ever taken. I love the softness, the grain, the skin tones. When I look through that viewfinder on the Pentax at what I’m about to shoot, I’m already excited, even though I won’t get to see the image for weeks.