Jeremiah Rogers

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On Photography: Why I Use VSCO Film

Note: This article does not have any affiliate links. If you want to buy the film packs I talk about just go here and get VSCO film packs 1 and 4. I won’t get any kickbacks.

I couldn’t disagree more with this article disparaging the use of VSCO film. A ton of the pictures on this website are processed using VSCO Fuji Provia 100F and VSCO Kodak Portra 400F.

Why? Because I hate post-processing color images. So did most people who shot color film. With VSCO I trust that someone else has gone through the work to create post-processing profiles that get decent colors. I just shoot the image in the camera and maybe adjust the exposure later. To me that’s worth the $50-100 that each film pack costs (depending on volume).

An image shot on actual Fuji Provia 100F on a Mamiya 6 rangefinder. Cropped from square format.

I thought about shooting my travels on actual film, but when I added up the costs of one roll of film per day for two years including developing I would have spent over $10,0001. Going digital just made a lot more economic sense and keeps my gear far lighter.

I shoot using VSCO film profiles because I think film looks better but I don’t want to pay for it or wait for it. Professionals do this too. SebastiĆ£o Salgado’s workflow involves shooting on digital then having the results processed in a uniform way digitially and exposed onto film negatives. Afterward he prints from negatives in a darkroom.

Beijing, China. Shot and processed with VSCO Film. Instead of worrying about every aspect of development I got the exposure right in the camera and let VSCO do the rest. This shot looks find and didn’t overload my low powered computer spending all day editing.

Why film packs? Going deeper, I think our minds are used to the colors from film. Done right, using the same colors as old film to shoot in the modern day plays tricks with my mind. It gives me a bit of distance from current events and makes them look like a medium I’m familiar with from viewing in my childhood.

Just like movie producers spend lots of money on software to resample their movies at 124 second, I’m spending some money to make my individual images look more like old 35mm film like.

One more thing: these days I’m shooting a lot of black and white images. For black and and white I’ve developed my own preset loosely based on this Fuji 100 RVP color preset by Terrance Lam. Terrance’s preset does a great job increasing the dynamic range of raw files to the higher levels represented in film without adding saturation. If you’re interested in the VSCO packs I’d suggest downloading Terrance’s preset first and seeing if it does the job you need.

  1. There’s a good chance that shooting film means I only would have shot one to three rolls per week, making the film cost a lot lower, but I didn’t want to find that out later. [return]