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Use Film to Create Light and Airy Photos by Savan Phann

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Written by Savan Phann

I am modern fine art film wedding and portrait photographer living in the golden light state of California. Orange County to be exact. When I am not off photographing couples say their “I Dos” and documenting families’ heirloom moments, you can find me with my two young daughters and my husband, cooking or off on our next traveling adventures.

My philosophy is very simple and uncomplicated. I absolutely adore connection and telling your story through my lens. I don’t need any props, or over the top sessions. What I do need is pure love and connection between my clients and me… and some pretty light. That human connection is so important, and, when that is found between client and photographer, it’s pure magic.

Use Film to Create Light and Airy Photos by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Creating Consistent Work

I want all my work to be seamless. Whether I am shooting a wedding or family, I want deliver a very cohesive gallery as much as possible. As much as I love my wedding work to be super light, airy, and very romantic, I feel that I have to pull in the light and airiness with a bit more contrast and depth when it comes to my family work.

How to Shoot Light and Airy Photos with Film by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Film Stock, Rating, and Metering for Light and Airy Photos

My film stock of choice is FUJI 400h. I love the pastel hues and the creamy skin tones created with this film stock.

I always rate Fuji 400 at 200, which is half of the box speed and overexposing by 1 stop. Try using the “bulb in” method with your light meter in the shadows for that light and airy look, erring on the side of overexposure. I put my light meter in the shadows of my subject right underneath the chin and point the meter back at the camera, making sure the sun doesn’t hit it.

Use Film to Create Light and Airy Photos by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Note: Fuji 400h can take overexposure very well. Fuji 400H is a very versatile film and does very well in bright light, like the desert, beach, and snow. The dynamic range is amazing and can handle harsh and direct sun like a champ. I love using Fuji at high noon beach light and the harsh light in Joshua Tree. Fuji 400 is also known for it’s pastel hues, giving greens a natural yet still vivid look, and magical skin tones.

How to Shoot Light and Airy Photos with Film by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Choosing Locations for Light and Airy Photos

Another ingredient for creating the fine art/light and airy look is using a light filled location with a neutral palette. Locations such as the beach, desert, and wheat fields work really well for this style. Also, indoor homes with neutral decorating and plenty of light from large windows will help you achieve a light and airy style. You can also help your clients choose clothing with a neutral palette to aid in this look.

Use Film to Create Light and Airy Photos by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Using Fuji 400h Indoors

I not only use Fuji 400h outdoors, but I also use this versatile stock while shooting indoors. If there is enough light to rate Fuji 400h at 200, I will. But it also performs incredibly well rated at box speed at 400 or even pushed.

Here is Fuji 400h shot indoors and pushed:

How to Shoot Light and Airy Photos with Film by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Here is an example of Fuji 400h outdoor and rated at 400:

Use Film to Create Light and Airy Photos by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film

Working With A Lab for Light and Airy Photos

I truly believe having a great lab is key. One in which you are not afraid to communicate your desired end results with. Think of your lab as your post production, your Lightroom if you will. You need to give them examples of what you want your film scans to look like. Then, keep giving them feedback until you feel they have nailed down your look.

How to Shoot Light and Airy Photos with Film by Savan Phann on Shoot It With Film


Thank you so much, Savan! You can find more of Savan’s work on her website and Instagram.

Savan is also one of the instructors teaching at the Film Camp workshop this September in Palm Springs, CA, where you can learn all about film and just how Savan creates these gorgeous images. Check out the details here!

Read all of our film photography tutorials here, and if you have questions about using film to create light and airy images, leave them below in the comments!

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