Hi y’all, it’s Savan with @savanphotography, a 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 and witnessing couples saying their “I Do’s,” you can find me with my two young daughters and my husband, cooking or off on our next traveling adventures. I love the outdoors, wine, coffee—OK, mostly wine—and love having great food and even better friends around me.
My philosophy is very simple and uncomplicated. I absolutely adore connection and telling stories 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 I, and oh, some pretty light. That human connection is so important and when it is found between client and photographer, it’s pure magic. Over the next few days, I’m going to share a little of my film journey along with some tips and what keeps me inspired. Thanks so much for following along and thanks to my sweet husband who took a look at me and said, “You really need a headshot on film wearing your SHOOT FILM t-shirt, so hand me your camera!”
📷 on #fuji400h with a #pentax645nii.
Why film? Gosh, there are so many reasons why I adore film—colors, tones, intentionality with my shooting and wanting a better work/life balance are all big reasons for me. But colors and tones by far are my main reasons for gravitating toward this medium. The colors of film are so vivid, yet real, and do not look overly processed. Of course skin tones on film are incomparable, leaving it so soft and dreamy like a painting. Shooting with intention is another huge reason for me to shoot film. Waiting for the right moment to press the shutter has helped me grow not only as an artist, but with my work flow. Since I am limited on how many shots are available per roll, and I limit myself to how many rolls I bring per session, I shoot less and LOVE my images so much more.
Shooting film takes time, and it takes an artist with the mindset of creating a perfect image literally in-camera, since there is no screen to see what you captured and no delete button. Because you have to slow down and connect with your subject and be more intentional with shooting—not to mention waiting to receive your scans—the end result is so much more rewarding to your creative soul. Film somehow connects you with the simpler beauty of everyday life and makes you appreciate and notice what you otherwise wouldn’t have.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 at @mountpalomarwinery in Temecula, California.
When I started my film journey, I was scared! Scared that people would frown on film—why would I shoot film when digital is so convenient, not to mention provides instant gratification? I thought that too for a bit and wanted to quit! But I realized how film impacted everything—especially how I approached every single frame and shot with intention. Like here in this image, I waited for the exact moment to capture running with the movement of her dress. Artists are their own worst critics, right?! But for the past years I can honestly say I'm proud of my work and know exactly who I am as an artist!
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Irvine, California.
When I was transitioning to all film, I knew it would take some time. People didn't understand it, the costs involved, logistics, etc., etc. At one point last year I even felt like quitting, even though I was getting a lot of inquiries, because I wasn't booking as much as I was the years before. I felt defeated that I wasn't good enough, that people didn't want to invest in film or a film photographer. My hubby quickly knocked some sense into me. He said, "Sure, you'll lose here and there, but your work has elevated and, believe me, people will see it and in the long run, you'll win because of how much you've worked to get here. You will win because you are now so proud of your new direction and work!” Well, he was right! Sure, my first year of shooting film was slower compared to years prior, when I never said no and literally gave away the kitchen sink and became so burnt out and felt taken advantage of. I can't believe I'm saying this, but at one time I thought, “Screw this film thing, clients won't get it.” However, now I see shooting film has made me not only a better photographer but through film I have created and defined my brand. And it's so rewarding to see the fruits of my labor paying off and giving me the competitive advantage!
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Twentynine Palms, California.
There is something to be said about the experiences you have through your own journey. For me, it's experience from age, travel and most importantly, motherhood. I'll tell you right now, I would have never taken this image *period* in my 20s or even when I turned 30, not to mention one that focused on the vulnerability of motherhood. It was when I became a mama that I understood how important my job is to capture these moments for other mamas. It's not a "say cheese, smile at the camera" portrait, it is the quiet strength of a woman holding and gazing upon her baby. It is as an experienced artist not just from trial, error and work, but from age and life experiences that I hope to convey images of the most important job in the world—motherhood.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Mission Viejo, California.
Being an artist of any kind is tough in so many ways, not to mention emotionally exhausting. It's hard not to take things personally, because as an artist you not only put in so much time, but most importantly, you put in so much of yourself into every project. You struggle with always comparing yourself to others and never ever thinking you are good enough. It was about this time last year that I finally stopped comparing began to focus on *my* craft and what fueled *my* soul. And I learned that it's OK I wasn't everybody's photographer. I tell my oldest daughter this all the time, "Greatness takes time, nothing happens overnight.”
So friends, if you want something, anything in life, stop talking about it and make it happen. Because you are always good enough!!
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Lake Elisnore, California.
Here's the thing—styled shoots, editorials, creative shoots or what I like to call them, “passion projects,” are so good for the soul. I get to shoot for myself and myself only, which lets me be super creative in trying new things/film stock without feeling pressure. I get to connect with other like-minded artists who share the same vision, not to mention shoot pretty people and florals with glowing light like this!
My first priority with a shoot is creativity, and I don't ever go into a shoot with huge pressure of a publication in mind, but if it so happens to be the right fit for a publication that's also my style and aesthetic, then and *only* then do I submit it.
Bottom line—shooting for you fuels your creative soul, because at the end of the day, it's *you* who are refining your craft for your current and future clients, who deserve, and frankly should demand, greatness—not sub-par work!
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
I get a lot of questions about my locations and my process to find them. Yes, I scout for locations that have it all: pretty trees, wild grass, maybe a stream or epic mountain top. But to be completely honest, I just need good light and if that means a “pull off the side of the road” or “back alley between buildings,” I’m not mad about it. LIGHT is key to my work, I love the warmth it gives all my images. At the end of the day, I want my images to pop with great, golden light.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Valley Center, California.
Progression—it’s a great thing. Comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy. I've made plenty of mistakes, but you best believe me, I've learned from each one. When I started shooting film, people thought, “OK,” and when I said I’m going to shoot families on film they thought, “Now, she’s crazy!” Always follow your light and dreams and remember greatness takes time. And one more thing—be kind and share your knowledge with others!
📷 on #fuji400h with a #pentax645ni in Portland, Oregon.
I believe it’s so very important to give back to our photography community and push our industry forward. I am an open book with my business, and I don’t shy away when other photographers ask questions or need help. I am very raw, candid and real with my IG posts about my struggles with film photography and running a small business. I have a deep passion about helping others along the way.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 at @missionsanjuancapistrano in California.
I can’t begin to express how humble and grateful I am to have met amazing couples, families and creatives who have been so kind and generous in my journey as a photographer. I still have to pinch myself every time I step into a portrait session or capture a couple’s “I Do’s” that this is really my job—I get to witness and document LOVE! I believe that having humility, paying it forward and respecting others who have come before you in this journey is so important to the depth and quality of your work.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #pentax645ni in Joshua Tree, California.
My best advice when starting film: give yourself some grace and take your time. Just like anything, greatness is not achieved overnight and it takes practice—lots of practice. Read books, watch tutorials, attend workshops, go to photography conferences, meet other #filmphotographers and like-minded creatives. Learn as much as you can and don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will make them—a lot of them—and it is ok—you need to take notes and learn from them.
Practice on a #35mm camera. This gives you 36 frames to practice lighting and exposure. Once you’ve got that down, then start shooting more on a #mediumformat.
Practice, don't give up and ask questions—in film forums, from film friends or film mentors. But most importantly, give yourself some grace and time to make mistakes, grow and refine your art and brand.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 at @the_field_house_michigan in Holly, Michigan.
Capturing those in-between moments is so important to me. Yes, you have to get those “everyone looking at the camera,” the ones parents and grandparents want, but you should also seek out and shoot those in-between moments and details as well. Once those images are all printed and put together in an album, they create a cohesive session and tell the whole love story of that wonderful day.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 in Joshua Tree, California.
When I first started my photography career almost 4 years ago, I was shooting digital and my consistency was all over the map when it came to post/editing. There were so many "presets/filters" that could be applied and the possibilities were endless and overwhelming. I knew I wanted my digital images and work to "look like film," but getting them to—that was another story until my husband said, “If you want that look, shoot real film and don’t fake the funk.” So with that, I switched to using the incomparable medium of film. Now my colors and tones are always on point with my style and my images are consistent regardless if they’re of travel, families or weddings.
📷 on #fuji400h with a #contax645 at @villadelsoldoro in Sierra Madre, California.