In Conversation with Adrian Michael: Fine Art Photography

I’ve admired Fine Art Photography for many years now, what with the likes of photography celebrities, Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina, gracing the pages of so many inspirational blogs. It wasn’t until I met and got to know local fine art photographer, Adrian Michael, that I truly understood what fine art photography really is, and how film captures such breathless and ethereal images, time and time again.  With the increasing popularity of film up here in Canada, and with blogs such as Vale & Vine, that are focusing primarily on Canadian fine art photography, there is an extraordinary amount of choices for couples out there, looking to find their wedding photographer.  Everyone is looking for something different in their wedding photos, and we all have such different priorities and tastes, and so I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with Adrian, to find out what makes film different from digital photography, hopefully allowing couples to be more educated in their options.


{FKE} What is fine art photography, and how does it differ from traditional photography?

{AMP} I think the main factors to defining fine art photography would be natural light, film photography, and direction from the photographer.

  • Natural light – it comes in so many forms – backlight, window light, open shade, filtered light, overcast, and so on. It seems obvious to state, but it always looks natural. When used properly by the photographer, it gives images a timeless, soft and ethereal feeling.
  • Film – Natural light combined with film photography is a match made in heaven. They way film holds natural light is magical. It’s not necessary to shoot film to be a “fine art photographer” but digital lacks the ability to hold as much detail in both the highlights and shadows of an image, and a digital image sensor just can’t produce the depth that you see in film. Film is magical!
  • Direction – Fine art photography is the artist inserting themselves into a situation. They give a lot of guidance to the subject, and craft images with thought, attention to detail, and with a vision. This doesn’t mean they don’t capture candid moments – but they know when to step in to turn a good image into a great image.
{FKE} What inspired you to begin to shoot with film?{AMP} I started shooting film because that was my only option at the time! I got my start in photography in 2001, and film was the standard back then. I did switch over to digital in 2006, when it seemed like film was doomed to go extinct. But I just didn’t care for it and switched back to film a couple of years later. The colours and natural grain of film are just so beautiful to me, and a digital camera just doesn’t measure up – no matter how many mega pixels!


{FKE}What are your favourite things/moments to capture during the wedding day?

{AMP} This is a tough question! Every wedding is so different and presents itself with unique moments and events. But to categorize, I have been loving groom portraits lately. Sometimes the spotlight shines so brightly on the bride that the groom takes a backseat on the big day. It’s his big day, too! I like to make sure he gets great portraits. I love the bridal portraits so much too, right after she’s donned her dress. There is so much anticipation and excitement – they always make for album worthy photographs. I also love the walk down the aisle after the ceremony. It’s such an iconic moment, the first steps as husband and wife – huge smiles, high-fives, confetti flying – a moment of pure joy and happiness, and that photo is one that will stay in an album or on their mantle for the rest of their lives.


{FKE}How does the editing process differ from digital photography?

{AMP} This is one of my favourite things about shooting film. When I shot digital, I would spend countless hours staring at my computer, editing colour and contrast to every photo. But now, I send the film to my lab where the develop and scan it. The scanning is so important. I have a colour profile with my lab, and they scan each negative to make sure the colours and contrast match up just the way I like them. Then they send me the scans online, and ship the negatives and proof prints in the mail. My clients get the proof prints and the scans. This is very important to me: I want them to see the photographs printed on paper before they look at the digital files. This is film’s biggest advantage – it looks SO amazing when printed. I also think it’s so much better to flip through prints than looking through your photos by hitting an arrow on a keyboard. It’s tangible, and warm and so much more real and meaningful than a cold computer screen.

{FKE} Where do you see fine art photography going, in the wedding world?{AMP} Fine art photography is a force in the wedding industry, and seems to only get stronger each year. Especially in the US and Europe. It’s finally starting to catch on in Canada. It’s not just a trend, film is here to stay. It fits the aesthetic of a wedding day so perfectly. For couples that are looking for timeless and crafted images, it is the perfect option.

49 To see more of Adrian Michael’s work, please check out his blog, as well as his most recent features (alongside FKE) on Vale and Vine, here and here.
*All images in this post, courtesy of Adrian Michael Photography
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1 Comment

  1. Great interview! 🙂


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