Get Them Tones Perfect! The Best Film for Portrait Photography

There’s something wonderful about the way that film renders skin tones.

When you shoot portraits with film, you’re expecting a specific look. This is so yearned for that there are digital presets created to emulate the look. But it’s never quite the same thing. Shooting with film is a lot more involved. But the extra work you do is always worth it. The reward is something worth bragging over. So we dove into our Reviews Index to find some of the best film for portrait photography. Take a look at our favorites!

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A Handy Guide to Kodak Portra and Choosing the Best One

Kodak Portra comes in three variants, and they’re each for different styles and looks.

The look of Kodak Portra has helped define so many aesthetics for years. Lots of the most popular portraits in magazines in the 90s were shot using it. It continued even through the early 2000s. Kodak Portra is a beautiful film that was specifically designed to shoot portraits. It’s arguably also the best when it comes to being scanned. Digital, even now, still can’t quite reproduce its look. Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed the most recent Kodak Portra film emulsions. And we dove into our Reviews Index to figure out which one you need.

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Cameron McClarty Uses an Analog Powerhouse to Shoot Portraits

All images by Cameron McClarty. Used With Permission.

“I came to the conclusion that I would just shoot film instead of trying to force the film.” Cameron McClarty’s route to using film isn’t uncommon. For years, the digital market has tried its best to emulate the analog aesthetic. Some cameras have come close, but not close enough. Thankfully, McClarty found the right path, and he picked up the ball and ran with it. His portraits have a retro vibe that blends well with modern day creativity. In his hand is a powerhouse: an analog camera that sets the standard of what a quality camera should be. Excited by his work and his tool to create, we spoke to McClarty and put him under The Phoblographer’s spotlight.

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Taking the Canon AE-1 Program and Pellix QL Out on a Woodland Shoot

Planning a dreamy woodlands shoot on 35mm film? Here’s a quick video showing what a Canon AE-1 Program and a Pellix QL will get you if you’re pressed for choices on what to bring.

Any camera would do if you’re thinking of a springtime woodlands shoot on film. But, if you want to narrow down your choices to 35mm SLR cameras, this quick video by Alex Hayes lets you choose between two Canon options: an AE-1 Program and a Pellix QL. The former is a classic and a firm favorite, while the latter is a rather unique option that may not be as heard of today. Both cameras were shot with the hugely popular Kodak Portra 400, so you might want to watch this video if you’re keen on trying these out.

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Shooting Medium Format Landscapes with Portra 400 and the Yashica Mat 124G

If you’re new to the Yashica Mat 124G and you’re still figuring out which genre to shoot with it, you might want to get an idea on how it fares with landscape photography.

Medium format has been pretty popular for portrait photography, but if you’d like to experiment with other genres first, we’ve found a nice video for you. It’s especially right up your alley if you tend to shoot a lot of landscapes. You’ll also find it helpful if you’re curious about the results of the popular Yashica Mat 124G! In his quick video, John Bradford takes us to Red Rock Canyon in Oklahoma where he shot landscapes using the Yashica Mat 124G to finish a roll of Kodak Portra 400. The combo tends to be more popular for portrait photography and even some trendy fashion portraits. But if you’re not really feeling that, this should give you ideas on other genres to experiment with using medium format film.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to Kodak Film for Professional Photographers

Kodak film is some of the best that you’re going to find on the market; and for good reason too!

The world of analog film photography is one currently experiencing a Renaissance; and at the forefront of it is Kodak film. Kodak is the last big company producing film that hasn’t cut emulsions but instead is bringing out new ones. Professional photographers used to use Kodak film for years and today the new breed of analog photographers does just that. There are a number of options for photographers to get into–with some of the tried and true emulsions being both Kodak Tri-X and Kodak Portra. Look around the web, and you’ll see tutorials and presets for digital photographers to get the look of these films. But no matter how hard they try, they just don’t recapture the magic of film.

We’ve reviewed every professional film emulsion that Kodak offers, and so we’re rounding up our reviews for you in one spot.

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Lena Pogrebnaya Used Kodak Portra for this Stunning Fashion Editorial

All images by Lena Pogrebnaya. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Looking into shooting film for your next fashion portraits or editorial project? We’ve found just the right stuff to inspire you. Ukranian fashion photographer and architect Lena Pogrebnaya used the iconic Kodak Portra film to shoot one of her most recent campaigns for a clothing brand. The set is a fine example of why the look of Kodak Portra films remain sought after for today’s portrait and fashion photography.

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Why Mastering at Least One Emulsion Is a Worthwhile Exercise in Film Photography

Given all the options we have with film photography today, why would it matter to master just one emulsion?

It took me a little over seven years of shooting film to come across an unusual idea about the medium: mastering just one emulsion. I say it’s unusual because part of film photographers’ mission these days is to try as many films as possible (especially the rare ones), before they all get killed off (yes, I’m looking at you, Fujifilm). Also, a big chunk of its appeal these days is the experimental nature, and it’s easy to see why. Ask anyone who shoots film about all the crazy stuff they’ve done (or plan to do) with their rolls and you’ll hear about stuff like multiple exposures, redscaling, cross-processing, film souping, and caffenol developing. For anyone who feels this much excitement over film photography, sticking to one emulsion even for a short while sounds a little boring.

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When to Shoot with Fuji PRO 400H and Kodak Portra 400

You don’t really have to choose just one, but keep in mind this quick tip on when to shoot with them for best results

Curious about whether Fuji PRO 400H or Kodak Portra 400 is the best choice? What if we were to tell you that you can just choose both? The two films remain among the top choices for 400 ISO films, and each has its own character or look that you’d want to take advantage of for your next shoot. In a quick review, Aidan Moneyhon tells us why we should keep some of both in our film stash and just know when to shoot with each emulsion.

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Can We Guess Which is Better? Leica M10 vs Leica M6

Negative Feedback weighs in on the street and portrait experience with the Leica M10 vs the M6

Ever been curious if it’s worth “upgrading” from a Leica M6 to an M10? In a recent trip to New York City, George Muncey of Negative Feedback swapped his M6 with New Yorker Joe Greer‘s M10 for a day to see how the experience and the results would stack up.

For their photo walk around New York City, George shot with the Leica M10 and a 28mm lens, while Joe shot with the Leica M6 and a 40mm lens (loaded with Kodak Portra 400). A really big difference there is the focal lengths aside from going digital after some years, but George also wanted to see if the wide angle experience is something he’d enjoy. For this test, they decided to shoot street snaps first in Chinatown and take advantage of its busy scenes.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 800 (120)

Kodak Portra 800 is a film that truly surprised me.

I cut my teeth in the photography world amongst some really old school people–these were folks who probably would have never used Kodak Portra 800. Why? Well, they swore by the fact that everything over ISO 400 is way too grainy. And that grain is bad no matter what. This is wrong; and I only wish back then that I hadn’t let folks like that try to mislead my mind and that I was more experimental. Kodak Portra 800 is a gorgeous film that is obviously still around for great reasons. It’s a film primarily designed for portraiture in available lighting. With that said, it’s beautiful in 35mm but even more so in 120 with fast lenses. And considering that so many photographers out there love to work with natural light more so than working with a flash, it could be one of the films that stays in your film camera on a consistent basis.

Indeed, it has to be one of the best available light films I’ve ever played with.

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Wong Wei-Him Shares His Connection with Hong Kong’s Iconic Harbor

All images and words by Wong Wei-Him. Used with permission.

My name is Wong Wei-Him, and I’m a street photographer and architect based Hong Kong, and founder of In-between design office.

I used to take photos as inspiration for my design projects, and I always carry my camera wherever I go, looking for beautiful architecture, spaces and details. It wasn’t until I came across the magnificent works of Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt and Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi — so peculiar the way they look at culture and humanity — that I decided to make street photography a second passion of my life.

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Cody Cobb Reveals the Grandeur of the Pacific Northwestern Landscapes

All images by Cody Cobb. Used with Creative Commons permission.

If you’re feeling the need to immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors and take some breath-taking photos in the process, we’ve got just the stuff for you. Today’s landscape photography inspiration is from Seattle-based Cody Cobb, whose impressive snaps are brimming with the colors, textures, and hues of the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful landscapes.

Once in a while, photographers and creatives find themselves giving in to the need to spend some time in nature. Not only is it effective as a relaxing time off and replenishing creative juices, but it also often leads to some compelling bodies of work. Cody, who works as a professional photographer and designer, is no exception. “For weeks at a time, Cobb wanders the American West alone in order to fully immerse himself in seemingly untouched wilderness,” he writes on his website bio. “This isolation allows for more sensitive observations of both the external landscape as well as the internal experience of solitude.”

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Nostalgic NYC Street Portraits on Film by Maxence Dedry

All images by Maxence Dedry. Used with Creative Commons permission.

New York City remains a favorite of street photographers, not only for its vibrant city life and iconic architecture, but also for the interesting faces, characters, and personalities of its residents. The Big Apple may be an intimidating place to take street portraits, but the film snaps of Belgium-based Maxence Dedry show why it’s always worth including them in your photography itinerary around town.

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Ajda Schmidt Captures the Loneliness of an Abandoned Yugoslavian Hotel on Kodak Portra 400

All images by Ajda Schmidt. Used with Creative Commons permission.

It’s amazing how places often seem to retain a certain mood or character long after they’ve been deserted. This is most likely what draws urban explorers to such locations, be it an eerie crumbling hospital or a forgotten ghost town. In one of her sets however, Slovenian photographer and graphic designer Ajda Schmidt captures not the eerie stillness of an abandoned hotel in Yugoslavia, but the melancholy mood housed within its spaces.

It’s been years since, the title of her set goes, and we note that it’s the case from what remains of its interiors. The place was trashed, and there’s barely anything around, apart from the bits and pieces in Ajda’s photos. The interiors are outdated and slowly crumbling away. Dust gathers in every nook and cranny, piling up as they lay undisturbed. Some of the floor tiles have chipped and peeled off, with trash scattered here and there. The windows are clothed with draperies evidently old-fashioned but must have been stylish in the hotel’s heyday.

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A Film Photographer’s Introduction to the Kodak Portra Family

We love a good party and when we found out that the Portra line is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday next year (introduced in 1998!), we thought we would take the time to cover some ground (and after, perhaps raise a glass) when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line. Kodak Portra has put out a variety of film stocks from this line, some of which are discontinued, but three of which are now a staple to film photographers like those of us at Carmencita and yourself. We’re gonna cover some ground on those three that take the cake when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 ISO.

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Film Review: Lomography Color Negative 400 (35mm and 120)

Lomography Color Negative 400 is one of those alternative color films that unfortunately isn’t spoken about enough. And for some of us, that’s perfectly fine. I’m okay with all the haters of Lomography refusing to understand what the company is doing and saving more film for me. Walking into the West Village store in NYC to be greeted warmly by the employees and always having the ability to buy some simply makes me happier. And all the folks who only shoot digital and only care about shooting digital can keep doing so. They’ll never understand the awesome secret that the rest of us know that is ironically being published on one of the biggest indie photo blogs on the web.

That’s all just fine.

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Film Review: Fujifilm Pro 400H (35mm and 120)

While Kodak Portra 400 has forever enjoyed the spotlight, Fujifilm Pro 400H has in some ways lived in the shadow of what’s often marketed with Kodak’s option. But in truth, Fujifilm Pro 400H has a character that is all its own–and like Portra, you either love it or you despise it. If you’re a Fujifilm X series camera user, then you’ve probably experimented with the film emulsion simulation in many ways. Most of the work online though was probably rendered in Velvia, Provia or perhaps even Acros at this point simply because it’s so darn good.

If you’re a portrait shooter that loves to step into the studio or work with off-camera lighting in one way or another, I highly suggest that you take a look at Fujifilm Pro 400H if you haven’t already.

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Katy Maclachlan: My Mom’s Canon AE-1 and Kodak Portra 400

All images by Katy Maclachlan. Used with permission.

In our continued features of analog photographers, we now get brought to photographer Katy Maclachlan. Her submission is one of the many that I genuinely feel is more than well suited to be featured on our website, but still not quite there for our upcoming analog zine. More importantly though, Katy’s work has soul. It has personality; and overall it’s still pretty darn beautiful.

Besides, she’s also got a pretty heartwarming story to go with it.

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